Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Expedition Food July 03 2007


It is critical that we get our nutrition right. We will be working extremely hard day in day out for 80 days, pulling twice our bodyweight behind us in extremely low temperatures over variable terrain. This requires massive amounts of energy.

On average, people consume around 2000 calories per day. We will need in excess of 5000 calories as a bare minimum and even then, we stand to expend more energy than we take on. This leads inevitably to weight loss as your body slowly starts to consume its fat supplies and, in extremis, your muscles.

So why not take more food? Weight is of course the key here. Fat provides the greatest amount of energy for its weight, however it is difficult and slow to digest, which is not much help when you need to replenish your energy supplies immediately to put in another two hour stint. So, we will consume a very high quantity of carbohydrates during the day, in the form of energy bars and drinks, together with nuts, alongside more fatty foods such as cheese and salami (both of which we all crave when training). At night, we will feast on freeze-dried meals of various sorts.
All our drinking water and the water we use to make up the freeze-dried meals comes from boiling snow, which is one resource which we won't have a problem finding! We'll be taking two 4 litre titanium Evernew pans with us for boiling snow (see above for a rather uninspiring picture of an empty pot). These took ages to source and ultimately we bought them from REI in the United States. Titanium is much lighter than stainless steel and just as hard-wearing for items such as pots and pans.

Our bowls and spoons are made of lexan, which is a very light and nigh-on indestructible form of plastic. Titanium is out of the question here. In the extreme cold, a titanium spoon will stick to your tongue, which is highly entertaining for everyone else but less so for the poor soul rendered speechless.

The stoves we'll be using are MSR's time-honoured XGK EX afterburners (below). The XGKs have practically no adjustment in flame size, are difficult to ignite and aren't that light. However, they are probably the most reliable expedition stoves ever made, which makes them indispensable.

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