Mountaineering with Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis | Uphill Athlete

Mountaineering with Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

  • Creator
  • #62940

    Hello all,

    As someone who is new to mountaineering (first course this upcoming summer!) I was curious what the communities experience has been like for people with Celiac Disease and/or irritable bowl diseases like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis? I manage them both well at home but I am concerned about extended periods of time in the backcountry. Any advice and/or gluten free options would be much appreciated!


Posted In: Nutrition

  • Participant
    Lauren Barthenheier on #63658

    I was recently diagnosed Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). I have been mountain climbing for a few years; however this year is my first climbing season with NCGS. There are many certified gluten free (CGF) options available. This blog post has links to many brands that are “gluten free” and CGF ( During your climb I suggest bringing all your own food, even if there is group meals. In addition, I suggest you bring your own utensils, bowls, and mug to avoid cross-contamination. Depending on your severity of reaction when “getting glutened”, it may be advised to pack your own Jet Boil to boil water on the mountain. This ensures that your Jet Boil is gluten free since only you will use it.

    Stress often triggers autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, IBS, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis due to mast cell deregulation. Mountaineering is an inertly stressful sport not only on the body but also the mind due to lack of sleep, exhaustion, and fasted exercise. Stress management is key to controlling inflammation and repairing the digestive system. You must eat well to sleep well. You must sleep to eat well. You must control stress to eat well. You must control stress to sleep well. It is a vicious cycle so learning to control your stress response is key.

    When on the mountain, try to get as much sleep as possible – it is hard due to the anxiety and excitement. Breath work before sleep can help quiet the mind and lessen anxiety through box breathing. Try to eat as often as possible or at least when you are hungry. Try to drink water often, especially with electrolytes such as Cure Hydration (gluten free), to keep the bowels moving while climbing.

    Brandt on #71074

    Hey Charlie, Sorry this is delayed so long from your original post. I haven’t been on the forums in a while. I can’t completely relate to what you are going through, but as someone close to having full-blown irritable bowel, here are my suggestions.

    Suggestions for right now would be to travel with people that care about you and your condition. Carry with you and only eat the food you should be eating for your condition. Be sure to bring a few healthy treats so when your friends are eating sugary food by the case, you will also have something. Also, zip locks and travel Cottonelle wet wipes changed my life in the backcountry.

    As for long-term suggestions,, out of the UK, is a liquid probiotic that completely cured me of any bowel issues. You must follow the directions, and every morning before you eat or drink anything, take two shots of the stuff and wait 10 minutes (I wait for 12 to be sure) before you eat or drink anything else. I double the dosage when I take an antibiotic and haven’t been eating as I should. Hey, nobody is perfect. 🙂 As with all things Uphill Athlete, this is not a quick fix, I’ve been taking it on and off for several years, and it’s expensive. I wish I has taken double doses for six months or so to start. For me and my bowels and from what I understand of the microbiome research sugar is the devil for people with bowel issues. It feeds the bad biome that overruns and kills the good biome.

    Anyway do your research and give it a try.

    Good luck to you, let me know if you have any more detailed questions.


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