Gear Guy

How do Everest climbers keep their tea hot?

Now that winter has set in along the Wasatch Range, it's nice to have portable hot beverages now and then. Do you have any insights for a leak-proof, lightweight thermos? One I recently received from Eddie Bauer keeps the contents warm or cold as necessary, but it leaks all over—certainly not something I could put in my pack and take into the backcountry. What kind of thermos flasks do they use for making tea on big climbs up Everest? Chris Park City, Utah

A: Having a hot cuppa on a cold day in the mountains is a wonderful thing. But most vacuum bottles (technically, Thermos is a trademark, like Levis) just don't cut the mustard. The solution is to get a serious, screw-top vacuum bottle that's built to take some abuse. True, you'll pay a weight penalty, but the trade-off is a reliable container. I have a fully functional 20-year-old, Thermos-brand steel vacuum bottle that I don't believe I'll ever replace it (I took it up Denali several years back). As for Everest climbers, they don't use anything more exotic than that.

REI sells a very nice stainless-steel vacuum bottle in both one- and half-liter sizes, complete with a tough plastic threaded cap and insulated cup. The liter model goes for $28, the half-liter for $24 ( L.L. Bean sells similar-sized bottles for $19 and $22, respectively, plus a big 48-ounce model for $29 ( @#95;gui_include name="ad_in_article"@#95;gui_include To pack along with your new flask, here's a recipe for real hot chocolate:

  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1
  • 2 cup light cream (or, use two cups milk)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus a pinch to garnish
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

  • Mix all these ingredients in a saucepan and heat until blended. Pack along a little whipped cream, too, for topping it off! Better yet, add a few ounces of good bourbon before serving.

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