There’s nothing quite like enjoying the serene beauty of the mountains on a backcountry ski tour. It’s nearly silent as you skin smoothly along. The trees are blanketed in a fresh coat of snow, and the sun is just cresting over the horizon, coating everything in a surreal wash of pink light.
At the summit you sit and rest for a moment, taking it all in. Everything is perfect, everything is right in the world until you try to take a bite out of the frozen, stale granola bar that’s been banging around in your pack for a year.
For some reason backcountry skiers obsess over gear and equipment, trying to optimize their experience in the mountains, but too often ignore another important part of that equation: nutrition.
What’s the point of experiencing the mountains via skis if you’re just shoveling the same old crap into your mouth? No, you should eat like a king in the backcountry, here are a few simple recipes to help you do that.
There’s nothing like a hot drink in the backcountry, but step your thermos of tea up a notch and make your own butter tea.
Butter tea is traditionally made using yak milk, it’s what the Sherpas who work on Mount Everest drink, so yeah, it’s high-altitude certified.
There are a bunch of recipes for butter tea out there, but we like to keep it simple.
Make strong tea with boiling water and either loose tea or bags like you usually would. While it’s still boiling add salt, and ⅛ cup of milk for every one cup of water you used, Then add a half tablespoon of butter for every cup of water you used. Blend it all together, and get it into your thermos still boiling.
The butter, milk, and salt bring a lot more nutrition to the tea than you’d usually get, and help fuel you through long days. You can add spices or other ingredients to make it even heartier.
We’ve even heard stories of folks melting and blending in whole Snickers bars to add even more calories. No matter what you add, this is a great staple for any day in the hills.
The best ski boot fitters will tell you that it doesn’t matter how insulated your boots are if your core doesn’t stay warm. Well, keep your core warm with some butter tea.
France may be best known for its wines and beautiful architecture, but they’ve also got some incredible mountains, and it stands to reason that a culture that values food so much would come up with some great mountain food.
And so they have in the form of charcuterie. Sure, you might be used to paying too much for some stale crackers and meats at a restaurant, but backcountry charcuterie can be so much more than that.
The basics are just some kind of bread (baguettes hold up better in a pack than crackers), some cheese, and some cured meats. You can go as fancy or plain as you’d like. Bring a fancy goat cheese, or just some pepper jack (we’re big fans of those wax wrapped Babybel mini-cheeses).
A stick of nice salami can live in your pack comfortably, and that first salty bite is a godsend on big missions. We highly recommend some dried fruits (apricots and cherries are a nice change of pace) and maybe some pickled vegetables. It’s shockingly easy to pickle carrots and radishes at home with just a few minutes of prep.
Your backcountry partners will thank you when you whip out your spread and lay it all out on your avy shovel blade. Nothing makes a day in the mountains feel a little more refined like a good charcuterie platter.
Peanut Butter Burrito
But what if you don’t have the luxury of a full kitchen. Maybe you flew in, grabbed a rental car and a ski rental in Portland, and are headed out for a fast lap on Mount Hood.
You just need cheap, easy nutrition.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the class and refinement of charcuterie, we have the peanut butter burrito. Sure, hefty sandwiches look nice, but they have a tendency to get squashed in your pack and be hard to eat.
If you’re just looking for fast, easy, durable nutrition, make yourself a pack of peanut butter burritos. All it takes is some wheat tortillas, some peanut butter, and if you’re feeling fancy, some chocolate chips and raisins. Boom, fast, easy nutrition. You can also substitute Nutella and call it a backcountry crepe if you’re fancy like that.
Maple Syrup Snow
This one is a wildcard, not the type of recipe you could pick up in just any ski and snowboard shop. It’s a perennial favorite of New Englanders, and it’s pretty simple. Just drizzle hot, fresh maple syrup onto fresh clean snow.
The syrup will freeze and solidify into a satisfying dessert. Eat it like a snow cone, or just eat the syrup drizzle off the snow. Either way, your touring partners will be impressed and jealous.
Just make sure to keep that syrup in a warm thermos on the way up, it’s less impressive if you can’t get it to pour onto the snow.
Read Also: 10 Beautiful But Most Dangerous Hikes In America.