Wednesday, 17 April 2013 15:19
Image: With the self-timer photographing: Ueli Steck at sunset on the monk. (Photo: Ueli Steck)
Ueli Steck is currently getting acclimatized in the Nepalese Region of Khumbu, at 3500 meters over sea. For this expedition, nutrition and equipment are crucial.
Ueli Steck explains the importance of preparation: "During the preparation for my expedition every single detail is important. You can train as much as you want, but if the equipment does not fit, you are lost." Ueli is detail-obsessed and a typical Swiss perfectionist. Together with his main sponsor and outfitter, Mountain Hardwear, he spent months paying attention to equipment that was "light, uncomplicated, long living and simply fitting".
Being incredibly obsessed with details meant that Ueli incited his provider to alter simple things, like the zipper on his sleeping bag, and the placement of a buckle on his backpack. Finally, Ueli's equipment is - clothing, backpack, sleeping bag and tent included - 5676 grams, while other alpinists are climbing with more than 12 kilos of supplementary weight to the summit.
Special productions such as his ultra light aluminium ice-axe should ensure, that his Mount Everest climb will be successful. Another very important factor in the preparation is his nutrition. "To eat is part of the work-out", says Steck. A glass of wine has never hurt him, and he is enthusiastic about a good bottle of Chianti. He buys products from the region, and he likes to cook. His nutrition during his Himalaya expedition is similar to what he eats at home at the lake of Brienz (Brienzersee). "At 6500 meters over sea, I eat almost like at home. Preferably pasta with different sauces or a two year old mountain cheese from Wengeneralp and bread and soup."
When he leaves base camp towards summit, he brings light nutrition with him. Nevertheless Ueli says: "At 8000 meters I prepare Rösti and Stocki (mashed potatoes) on my gas cooker. For breakfast I eat müsli with milk powder." He compensates his fluid balance during his summit ascent with electrolyte drinks, and two half liter bottles of cola. This calms his stomach, and he gets the necessary sugar, caffeine and energy. He even has a little trick: "baking powder dissolved in liquid makes you have to urinate less quickly."
An overview of Ueli's Apparel Developers.
In December 2012 Ueli put his entire body through rigorous endurance testing. The test administrator set the treadmill at 22% steepness, and Ueli had to wear a face mask in order to measure his oxygen assimilation.
Christian Belz, Swiss record holder, and sales manager Switzerland at the Nestlé brand PowerBar in Vevey (VD) reveals: "in December his values were as good as they were in April 2012, when he was about to leave to for his last expedition."
Ready to eat-Rösti and Stocki (mashed potatoes) are not sufficient. Or, as Chistian Belz says: "Ueli brings a high performance which is at the edge of humanly possiblility. His supply of energy, and his intake of nutrition must go fast. He can not barbecue a chicken on Mount Everest."
Ueli's Mount Everest Equipment
In the Himalayas, Ueli takes additional fluid gels, which have carbohydrates, as well as isotonic drinks. He also eats energy bars and bonbons. Recovery is very important after a performance. The extreme alpinist enriches a powder with the taste of chocolate, which has a high concentration of proteins and carbohydrates that aid in recovery.
Ueli always says that the brain is the most important muscle while on a summit ascent. Belz, who has trained with Ueli, says: "If he gets upset because of the monotonous nutrition, this is bad, because the mental part is very crucial."