During mountaineering expeditions and treks the meal is often the center of a day’s activity, a time when all the members come together to socialize. Being able to make good quality meals in the mountains at altitude takes much experience, know-how and, I believe, is an art form.
Many climbing expeditions, trekking groups, and other mountain activities require local staff to provide them with meals, drink, and other camp services. These “basecamp” services are very important as team members are in a foreign environment, taxed by the altitude, doing a physically demanding activity - normally climbing or trekking. Having nutritious, tasty, varied, and clean food and drink is essential to keeping team members strong, healthy, and happy. In addition to making meals, there are all the other services related to life in the mountains. For expeditions to 7000 and 8000 meter mountains base camp set-ups can be quite elaborate, with large eating tents, table and chairs, shower and toillete tents, electric lights, entertainment, and other comforts of home. For trekking groups, quality meals and services must be maintained while moving camp each day.
That is involved with “basecamp” services is often unkown by clients. Food and supply preporation, transportation, packaging, animal portage, keeping food fresh, keeping the team healthy, good enivornmental practices, equipment management, cooking, and much more is logistically complicated and involved. The success of an expedition often depends on how well these “basecamp” services are provided.
In the Himalayan, “basecamp” services are normally arranged by Nepalese trekking or mountaineering agencies. However, within Tibet and China there is a dearth of quality and dependable basecamp services. Tibet, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces boast one of the highest and most diverse concentrations of mountains in the world.
Samdien was born in 1971 in Ray’za, a small village in eastern Tibet. He moved to Lhasa in 1990 to work as a restaurant waiter. It was here that he found his passion for cooking. In 1993 he studied cooking in Lhasa’s largest Tibetan restaurant. Within five years he had become proficient at Tibetan, Chinese, western and Nepalese cuisine and had become a head cook.
Samden always felt a bit constrained by the tight kitchen quarters he worked. In 1999 we was asked to help on a trekking group around Mt. Kailas for a group of Swiss adventurers, and he has never looked back. In 2002 he started to work for SummitClimb, an american mountaineering company and BlueSheep Adventures. Since then he has worked for many climbing expeditions and trekking groups, serving clients from around the world. Samdien has provided services for expeditions throughout China, including to Mt. Everest, Mt. Cho-Oyu, Mt. Shishpangma, Mt. Mustagata, and for many other treks and climbing expeditions.
Samdien is regarded by many as the best and most diverse expedition cook in China. He has mastered how to make tasty and nutritious Chinese, Western, Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian food at the world’s highest camps, including 6800 meter high Everest Advanced Base Camp. He tailors the dishes to the clients’ desires and keeps the meals varied.
Samdien is naturally good at organizing, logistics, and thinking about all the small things that make an expedition succesuful. He is motivated and passionate about what he does, and is continually learning and improving his skills. He seems to be able to effortlessly put together an entire base camp with three hot meals a day for a 30 person mountaineering expedition and provide tireless service on long treks to remote regions of the world. If the clients are happy, Samdien is happy.
Samdien presently lives in Lhasa with his wife and they have an 12 year old daughter named Deejee who loves to study.
Samdien is a professional expedition base camp manager and expedition cook. He has excellent management skills and a high level of professional commitment.
Samden's Mountain Cook School
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