Friday, April 11, 2008

AAI Denali Update - New Cook Tents!

Cook tents in action on Denali.

The expedition lifestyle on Denali is often not a very comfortable one. It's cold, the weather is can be variable, the loads are heavy, and what started out as exciting and fun tasks can start to feel mundane and repetitive by week three. Did I mention that it was cold?

To ease the suffering and to make life on the mountain more enjoyable for all, we often recommend climbers to bring "pleasure items" on a trip like this, more than in other instances where "light and fast" are bigger allies than comfort and entertainment.

As a guide on Denali, you spend a lot of time melting water, cooking food, and arranging bulk bag items. Enter the importance of the cook tent. The cook tent may not have been AAI's idea originally, I am not sure, though AAI was the first guide service to widely employ the tent concept for expedition style climbing.

There are many variations on the shape, size, construction, and application of a cook tent. Over the years, and particularly this year, we think we have the best design to date. More on that shortly.

The author (don't laugh!) cheffing up
mountain cuisine in the cook tent.

Our relationship with the cook tent is very much a love-hate relationship. On the positive side, it provides a place for communal gatherings for meals, team meetings, repair projects, first aid administration, and other orders of expedition business that is better done in a larger tent and away from the elements. The cook tent is a social place where jokes are told, friends are made, and soul warming hot drinks are enjoyed.

On the less positive side, it takes a lot of time to dig and maintain cook tents, they often get messy and smelly, and the time spent there often involves time consuming and stressful work on which many people depend. In some cases the cook tent is the site of notable disasters - picture 7 MSR stoves and 13 gallons of fuel!

So at this point you might be wondering what my point is with all of this talk. I am happy to say I don't have one, other than to annouce our great satisfaction with the arrival of our new cook tents for the 2008 Denali season. We made some substantial updates to last year's model, and I think that we will be eating and lounging in good style this year high up on the mountain. Check out the pics and details below.

Our new cook tent design for 2008. We have gone to a
slightly square floor plan over more of hexagon shape of years past.

Room with a view. Note the 24 inch vertical rise on the sidewalls.
This allows for more headroom when seated and less digging!

Plenty of head room for the tall types.

Ventilation for the stoves and mesh pockets for utensil storage

As we speak, our equipment shop staff is busy loading one of our vans with food and equipment for the annual migration north to Alaska. After the three-day drive, Erik Johnson and Dustin Byrne will be spending about 10 days setting up and preparing for our first Alaska trips of the season. Stay tuned for another dispatch on their voyage shortly!

Coley Gentzel
Program Coordinator and Guide


Walleyworld said...

Can anyone tell me who makes this cooking tent?? Thanks, Brian

Angelo R. said...

Who makes this tent? Thanks!

EquipmentShop@AAI said...

Thanks for asking! This great cook tent was custom-made for us by Jon Walters at Northwest Design & Manufacturing. He can be reached at 360 714 8513 or

Unknown said...


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