At 29,029 feet in height, Mount Everest is the tallest peak on the planet and a formidable challenge for even the most experienced mountaineer. Each spring, hundreds of climbers arrive with the hope that they will get the opportunity to stand at the top of the world for a few fleeting moments.
But getting there isn’t easy or cheap. An Everest climb requires a two-month commitment to successfully complete and costs upward of $60,000. Where does all of that money go?
The majority of climbers sign on with a guide service that provides support throughout their expedition. These professional operators provide food, fuel and other supplies that are needed for the six to eight weeks that are spent on the mountain.
They also secure climbing permits, hire guides and porters, provide bottled oxygen for the summit push and more. Some will try to distinguish themselves from the competition by offering such luxuries as better food, more Sherpa guides or satellite Internet in base camp.
So just what do climbers get for their money? Here’s a rough breakdown of the costs.
Climbing permits: $11,000
Before they can ever set foot on the mountain, a climber must first obtain a climbing permit from the government of Nepal or Tibet, depending on which route they’re climbing.
For logistical and support purposes, most people climb the south side of Everest, in Nepal, where the permit costs $11,000. However, they can save a bit of money by traveling to the north side, in Tibet, where the cost is about $7,000.
Other climbing fees: $1,500
In addition to obtaining a permit, teams are required to pay a number of other climbing-related fees. These include hiring a liaison officer to join them in base camp, a basic medical-support fee (contributing to the cost of installing ropes on the mountain) and a refundable deposit for the removal of trash and human waste.
Travel to base camp: $4,000
Just getting to base camp on Everest takes time and money. Porters and yaks are needed to carry the gear on the week-long trek, and climbers will need to eat and stay in tea houses along the way.
Sherpas: $5,000 each
Most teams assign one climbing Sherpa to each of their clients to ensure they stay safe on the mountain, at a cost of $5,000 per person. A few teams will even provide two Sherpas for each climber as a safety measure.
Additionally, clients must pay for the bottled oxygen used by their Sherpas, which can run upward of $3,000.
Maintaining campsites: $2,000
The guide services operate a series of camps on Everest ranging in altitude. Keeping those camps stocked with supplies and support staff adds significantly to the price.
Additionally, climbers pay roughly $800 each for six weeks’ worth of food for their meals.
Bottled oxygen: $3,700
The majority of Everest climbers use supplemental oxygen on the way to the summit. On average, they’ll use five bottles to reach the top, at $550 per bottle.
They’ll also need an oxygen mask and regulator, which cost about $500 each.
Most climbers will need to buy additional high-altitude gear for their climb, including a down suit, sleeping bag and boots.
There are a variety of other expenses that add up quickly too. These include travel costs to Kathmandu, emergency-rescue insurance, visas, immunizations and tips for the cooks and Sherpas.
These expenses can vary wildly, but add significantly to the entire price of the climb.
Climbing Everest is not an inexpensive undertaking, yet hundreds still do it each year. It is a testament to the allure of the mountain that so many are willing to sacrifice so much just to stand on top.
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