A trip to the local grocery store isn't your usual approach to preparing to climb Mt. Everest, but just such a stop saved the day for a Wyoming contingent planning an assault on the world's highest peak this fall.

Fred Riedman, a Salt Lake resident who is one of three Utahns in the 34-member group, was desperate when he made a trip to a Smith's Food King seeking needed supplies. Riedman said a shipment to the group's Pinedale, Wyo., staging site did not contain four important items - soup mixes, dried dinner bases, green tea bags and bouillon cubes - to be used in preparing food packets for the climb.The expedition organizers have volunteers assembling food into individual and two-man food packets that are vacuum sealed for compactness and instant preparation. The assembly line came to an abrupt halt when the missing foods were not in the latest shipment.

Marilyn Weaver of Smith's regional offices in Layton said the local store contacted her and special permission was obtained to pull the items directly from the warehouse.

"The amounts they needed were more than any local store would have been likely to have on hand," she said. "Because of time constraints on the expedition's preparations, permission was given to make the sale directly from the warehouse."

Riedman loaded the missing items onto his pickup truck and headed to Wyoming - with 3,000 soup mixes, 400 dinner mixes, 500 tea bags and 2,000 bouillon cubes.

Riedman said the climb is being sponsored by a Wyoming group in conjunction with that state's 1990 centennial celebration. The effort has been dubbed "Cowboys on Mt. Everest," although the official title is the "Wyoming Centennial Mt. Everest Expedition."

Riedman, a credit manager for a Salt Lake financial firm, is on a 1-year leave of absence and has been working as the expedition's chief fund-raiser. He plans to be one of eight climbers that make the final trip to the summit.

The group will leave San Francisco on Aug. 1, with a stop in Bejing, China, on Aug. 2 and arrival in Lhasa, Tibet, set for Aug. 6. From there it will head overland to the base camp on the mountain's north side. Riedman said the climb should begin on Aug. 15.

"If all goes as planned, we should be on the summit by the end of September or first of October," Riedman said.

Riedman was one of two group members who traveled to China last November to sign the permit agreements for the climb. The permit itself cost just $1,400. Services that only the Chinese government can provide, such as trucks for the 15-tons of equipment, will cost about $120,000 to $180,000.

The expedition is expected to cost just under $1 million. To date, Riedman's fund-raising efforts have generated some $200,000. All of that has come from individual donations, with about half coming from Wyoming residents. Riedman said he expects to get some corporate donations and support but believes that will come at the last moment when it is sure the expedition is on its way.