Alaska Mountaineering School
" The food room is a sight to behold and a great resource for all participants. Well fed climbers are happy climbers... "
— Amy Peterson, 12 Day Mountaineering Course
" I was very impressed with the professionalism and attention to detail of the entire organization, from start to finish. "
— Gary Davis, 12-day MTC
" I felt 100% comfortable with my guides even when dangling 15 feet below the lip of a crevasse. My only complaint... I should have taken the 12 day course. "
— Stuart Pearce, 6-day MTC

AMS Food

Proper nutrition is essential to maintaining health and strength in the outdoors. An army moves on its stomach and moves better if everyone is looking forward to his or her next meal. No other guide service takes food as seriously as AMS. We make every effort to provide tasty, nutritious, and balanced meals for all of its expeditions. Our menus are varied, hearty and show a calculated strategy for keeping the rations lightweight and compact without forfeiting variety or quality. This information explains our approach to food and what to expect. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

We have a food room with hundreds of different food items. A spreadsheet rations program helps us figure out exact quantities. We enter in group size, pounds per person per day, and number of days and the program provides a spread sheet that balances calories, carbs, fats, and proteins. Instructors examine and make changes based on the itinerary and the group's dietary needs. Our goal is reachable: a. we want to create a variety of tasty and creative meals designed to build strength and maintain health, b. we want everyone to enjoy the food c. we want to have enough of it, but not too much.

Food packing for an expedition requires precise assessment of daily needs and attention to every detail. We consider several variables when creating a menu plan including: individual preferences, variety, and palatability at altitude, weight, and durability. We have fined tuned our popular menus. We designed our rations facility after a bulk food section of a health food store. Scoop bins line the walls, food scales hang from the ceiling, and commercial refrigerators and freezers line the walls. We are driven to provide hearty, creative, and wholesome meals that maintain a nutritious and well-balanced diet. We eat pastas, rice and bean burritos, pancakes, and pizza bagels, gourmet granolas, hash browns, tortellini and red sauce, rice noodles with fresh peanut sauce.

Variety is key, but being able to make it plain is also important and AMS is sensitive to all dietary needs. We use freeze-dried like an accouterment and only premium quality individual bulk: broccoli, zuchini, carrots, peas, turkey, tuna, blueberries, and strawberries. AMS uses organic wholesalers in Washington and Oregon for most food supplies. Vegetarian and dairy-free preferences are readily available and no hassle. Base foods to any meal start vegetarian and can be portioned before any meat is added. We have bulk dry soy milk and gluten-free pasta and granola. We have many Kosher products as well. Please contact us and we are happy to discuss any food concerns.

Food for Expeditions

Your guides will pack and freeze all of the breakfasts and dinners two days prior to the starting date of your expedition. The rations stay frozen until you are ready to load the planes for the flight to the glacier. In this way perishables, such as cheese or bread, stay fresh even if weather causes delays at the start. What we eat on any given day depends on where we are on the mountain, what the game plan is, and how far we are into the expedition. Lower on the mountain, we pull sleds and can carry bulkier bread products such as bagels and English muffins. After a week, muffins often go stale, so we switch to tortillas and less perishable foods. Often, people have a decreased appetite at higher elevations, so the food needs to be compact, palatable, and easy to digest. Food rations must adjust with the ebb and flow of the expedition so when we have to get out of camp quickly, we have food that is quick to prepare. When we have a rest or storm day, we have more time to prepare more complex meals.

Typical breakfast foods are hash browns with pre-cooked bacon, blueberry pancakes and freeze-dried real maple syrup, granola, and English muffins with cream cheese and strawberry jam. We usually save the hot porridge meals for summit day.

Dinners, especially after a challenging day, start with a power snack such as quesadillas with salsa or mini pizzas, and a soup such as potato leak, curry lentil, split pea, tomato basil, or navy bean, all of which aid in hydration and warming us up. Dinners have a base of noodles, rice, beans, potatoes, or couscous, and include sauces, seasonings, dried vegetables, and dried meats such as tuna, turkey, chicken and/or beef. Vegetarians are easily accommodated and can get their portion before any meat is added. Every other day, we pack dessert.

Lunch and Drinks
The AMS lunch and drinks strategy highlights how serious we are about precise rationing. We aim to bring exact quantities of lunch foods and drinks that suit everyone's individual tastes throughout the climb. A typical day on the trail allows for short breaks every hour or so to snack and hydrate. Our motto is "Lunch begins after breakfast and ends before dinner." Grazing throughout the day rather than eating one big lunch is easier to digest and helps maintain more consistent energy levels. In an effort to bring exact quantities, all expedition members pack their own lunch foods and drinks for the entire expedition during the morning of the first day in Talkeetna. AMS has a wide variety of snacks to choose from such as trail mixes, nuts, dried fruits, crackers, candy bars, cheese, salami, beef jerky, bagels, and cookies. Available drinks include teas, hot chocolate, Tang, spiced apple cider, lemonade, and Gatorade. We do not have specialty "high performance" snacks such as Gu or Power Gel or Power Bars. If you are a coffee drinker, contact AMS for the latest options. You are encouraged to bring 3 pounds of your own favorite snacks and drinks to insure you have your favorites.

In order to facilitate caching supplies in our expedition-style climbing strategy, lunches and drinks are divided into 3 separate stuff sacks representing the first, second, and third week of the expedition. You should label your food bags 1, 2, and 3. Depending on your appetite, each bag's final weight will be from 5 to 8 pounds. Food scales hanging in the AMS food room make it easy to weigh lunch bags. AMS has been packing lunches in this way for over 10 years; this strategy has proven to be effective at reducing waste and ensuring satisfaction.

Proper hydration is encouraged from the time you arrive in Talkeetna until the time you return home. AMS goes by the climber's adage: "Hydrate or die." Since you will be on snow for the duration of the climb, all drinking water must be melted. Before and after each breakfast and dinner, hot and cold water will be available, and you will be encouraged to drink as much as you can.

Please contact AMS if you have any dietary restrictions, peculiarities, or allergies. We have a variety of specialty lactose-free dried foods and soy products as well as many other alternative foods. Our meals are prepared to easily accommodate vegetarians, but we must be aware of this in advance in order to prepare appropriately.

CHECK LIST — WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING: (also indicated on the Equipment Checklist
Three medium-sized stuff sacks for packing lunches, marked with your name and bag number: 1, 2, 3. Optional: 3 pounds of your favorite snacks, and some instant drinks to ensure you have what you enjoy and enough variety.

Food for Courses

AMS provides hearty, nutritious and balanced meals for its programs. Do not be surprised if you fail to lose weight on the course. A spreadsheet ration's program and faithful recipes balance calories, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and weight to create a variety of tasty and creative meals that build strength and maintain health.

Course rations are packed bulk style, and during the course, each tent group cooks for themselves from the AMS ration bags that are issued to groups the first day on the glacier. Preparing food and water is a key component to winter camping and expedition life; students will learn how to make some very tasty meals. Each cook group is supplied with a camp cookbook with the instructors to answer questions and offer up cooking tips. Instructors and students cook several meals together as one group to learn about the kitchen equipment and rations.

Courses eat pasta, rice and bean burritos, English muffins, and bagels. Other examples include hash browns, mashed potatoes, ramen, couscous, soup, tortellini, and dried vegetables. A sample of our supply of trail foods includes a variety of GORP, candy bars, pretzels, crackers, dried fruits, cheese and salami. We avoid freeze-dried, meal-in-a-bags as they are typically inadequate portions and lack in taste. Our rations come from organic wholesalers in Washington State and a modern supermarket in Anchorage. All our meals can accommodate vegetarians; please call if you have any questions about our food rations.

AMS provides all of the food for our courses; however, we ask that you bring one pound of your favorite lunch food. This will be used to supplement what we have packed for you and ensures that you have a preferred snack food.

Proper hydration is encouraged from the time you arrive in Talkeetna until the time you return home. AMS goes by the climber's adage: "Hydrate or die." Mountaineering courses will be on snow for the duration of the course, thus all drinking water must be melted from snow. Wilderness courses get water from clear lakes or running streams, iodine tablets and filters will be used to treat drinking water. You will be encouraged to drink as much as you can.

Please contact AMS if you have any dietary restrictions, peculiarities, or allergies. We have a variety of specialty lactose-free dried foods and soy products as well as many other alternative foods. Our meals are prepared to easily accommodate vegetarians, but we must be aware of this in advance in order to prepare appropriately.