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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Dec 182016
Kami at ladder in Everest 2016 Icefall

“How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?” This is a popular question I get after a speaking engagement. The short answer is a car or at least $30,000 but most people pay about $45,000.

This completely new 2017 post introduces new options for climbers, a look at new rules, a chart of current offers and serious answers to serious questions plus a few survey questions where you can weigh in with your thoughts in addition to making a thoughtful comment.

Follow the Everest 2017 season now!

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There is a lot of detail here and is broken down by:

Big Picture

The headline for 2017 is that all expedition prices crept higher but climbing from China saw a huge 22% increase. The permits for a medium size team of four or more climbers increased from $7,000/climber to $9,950/climber or 34%.

The price range for a standard supported climb ranges from $28,000 to $85,000. A fully custom climb will run over $115,000 and those extreme risk takers can skimp by for well under $20,000.

Over the past few years, the low cost Nepali operators were getting a foothold in the market by competing on price but now realize they were leaving money on the table and are starting to increase their prices. That said, they will make you a deal unlike most western operators.

Guided climbs on Everest is like any competitive marketplace. In other words driven by supply and demand and the demand is huge! As I’ve noted for years now, more and more Everest climbers are coming from India and China adding to the historic demand from the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia. Meeting that demand are many Nepal based guides. China is making huge moves to capitalize on the tourist demands from their own country which will add to the crowding. With this year’s permit increase they are paving the way to reduce the difference with Nepal.

Bottom line: Look for Everest to become more crowded and more expensive over the next five years.

Everest 2016 Review

The 2016 spring climbing season on Everest, from both sides, was about as normal as it gets these days. 640 people summited – half being Sherpa support. Five people died – lower than the average of eight deaths each season since 2000. The weather was good so there were many suitable summit days however crowds still formed behind a few very large and slow teams resulting in an unusually high number of frostbite cases.

If there was a lesson from 2016, get out quick, climb fast and don’t look back.

Reality television once again took over Nepal with several independent camera crews chasing locals and climbers in trouble hoping to get them on camera and then sell the clips to the highest bidder. Some crews promoted themselves in the name of selfless philanthropy but it was more like ambulance chasing. My understanding was that some of the victims were given free services in exchange for rights to their story.

In any event, I hope the good outweighed the profit but it is time for this type of activity to end, imho.

Everest 2017 Outlook

A leading indicator of the interest in Everest is the autumn season. In 2016 it was crowded on the “attainable” 8000 meter peaks of Manaslu and Cho Oyu. This suggests we will see record Everest 2017 crowds.

Encouraging the crowds are the permit extensions after the premature endings due to politics and the earthquakes. The $11,000 Nepal permit in 2014 was extended to 2019 and the $7,000 permits from China in 2015 to 2018 . With those permits expiring, climbers are anxious to save money. Long time operators are reducing their prices by the permit fee indicating their confidence that Nepal will follow thru this time.

The Nepal Ministry of Tourism, even under new leadership, continued their annual press release of announcing changes to make Everest safer. The latest edition citied that all permit holders must hire guides, restricting helicopters above base camp except for rescues, banning climbers with disabilities or older than 75 and finally requiring all Everest climbers must have summited a 7,000 meter in Nepal to obtain a Nepal 8000 meter climbing permit. I seriously doubt any of this will be enforced for 2017. You can read about these on my post along with my opinion on the merits and feasibility.

Where Does My Money Go?

There are four major components to any Everest climb regardless of climbing from Nepal or Tibet: travel, permits/insurance, supplies/gear and guides. The following discussion breaks down the expenses as if an individual wanted to climb without joining a team but almost no one does this as the numbers will show – it is just too expensive or risky.

1. Travel $500 – $10,125

The travel costs are entirely dependent on where you live and how you like to travel. It can range from a few hundred dollars to over $7,000 to fly to Nepal. Most people use Thai, Turkish, Qatar, Air India, or China Eastern to reach Nepal.

Once in Kathmandu, you need to fly to Lukla or Lhasa to start the journey to base camp, so add in add a few hundred dollars for this air fare.

From Lukla in Nepal, its takes a little over a week to trek to base camp. Add in food and lodging along the way for you and your support team. This can total between $400 to $1,000 per person again depending on your style and how many beers you have. Teahouses have dramatically increased their prices in the Khumbu. Long gone are the $5 nights. To save money, climbers can always camp in their tents.

Not only do you have to get yourself to base camp but also all your gear – tents, food, oxygen, etc. Most people use porters and yaks costing at least $20 per day per load, so this usually totals over a thousand dollars. Large operators will hire helicopters and the expense is bundled into the overall price.

On the Tibet side, you save some money by driving all the way to base camp and this is included in your climbing permit. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) will meet you where you arrive in China and never leave you the entire expedition. This is more about monitoring than supporting.

Travel $2,425 – $8,325

  • Airfare $1500 to $7000 depending on class and routing and excess baggage
  • Transportation Kathmandu to Lukla $325 round trip per person
  • Hotel and food in Kathmandu $300 to $700 depending on delays
  • Nepal Visa $100
  • Immunizations $200

Getting to EBC $1,240 – $1,800

  • Yaks to and from Base Camp $40 per yak per day carrying 120 lbs, (4 yaks for 4 days minimum or $640)
  • Extra Yak in China is $300/Yak
  • Porters to and from Base Camp $20 per porter per day carrying 60 lbs (3 porters for 6 days minimum or $360)
  • Tea Houses and food on trek to EBC $20 – $100/person/day – 7 days $140 – $700
  • Park Fee $100/team


2. Permits and Insurance $9,950 – $29,500


The permit cost is fixed at $11,000 per climber from Nepal. In Nepal, the permit fee simply gives permission to climb, whereas in Argentina for Aconcagua or Alaska for Denali, the $800 or $365 permit, respectively, also covers helicopter evacuation, maintaining high altitude ranger camps, hiring seasonal staff, providing mountaineering information, and keeping the mountain environment clean.

Nepal requires using a local company to organize your permit at a cost of $2,500 for the team, a refundable trash deposit of $4,000 for the team plus a Liaison Officer costing $3,000 per team. These total $9,500 BEFORE the $11,000 per person climbing permit. So before you hire guides, yaks food or gear you must come up with almost $20,000 in Nepal.

Nepal implemented in 2013 a new rule that requires every foreign climber in Nepal to hire a local Sherpa Guide. While very unclear how or if this rule is enforced for every operator, it adds a minimum of $4,000 to the absolute lowest cost. In late 2016, several climbers ignored these rules for first ascents are are now under investigation by the Nepal authorities.

Most guide companies on the Nepal side will require at least evacuation insurance and most require medical coverage. One of the best investments you can make is to add trip cancellation to the policy. In both 2014 and 2015 when the Everest season ended early, those with trip cancellation/interruption coverage had 100% of their trip expenses reimbursed.

Travelex is a popular choice. To save money, joining the American Alpine Club will provide $5,000 evacuation coverage through Global Rescue however most people upgrade that basic coverage. With all these policies you must follow their rules exactly or you will not be covered – and I mean exactly, one misstep and you are not covered.


UPDATE: I have an update from the first post that the Chinese are now asking USD $9,950 per person for the permit for teams of 4 or more. If the team is one to three members it skyrockets to $19,500 per person. This price includes, transportation from the entry point to base camp, hotels, liaison officer, trash fee, five yaks in and four yaks out per member. There is an extra charge of $200 per day per person for time spent in Lhasa.

This increase effectively eliminates a low cost, single person climb from Tibet for under $20,000.

If you want to bring a Nepal Sherpa to climb with you in Tibet, budget an additional $3,300 for each Sherpa’s “work permit” as required by the CTMA plus their salary of $5,000.

The Tibet side is more complicated for evacuation insurance since the rope fixers do some rescues but mostly it is climbers helping climbers and helicopters are not allowed. The insurance would most likely begin coverage once you got back to Lhasa or Kathmandu. It would be wise to double check everything with your provider to understand the details.


Climbing Fees $20,600 – $25,650 (Nepal)

  • Nepal Agency fee $2,500 per team (usually included in total price from a guide)
  • Nepalese Liaison Officer $3,000/team (usually included in total price from a guide)
  • South Base Camp Medical support from EverestER $100/person
  • Nepal permit $11,000 for each climber regardless of team size
  • Chinese permit $9,950 per each climber for teams of 4+ otherwise $19,500/person, $3,300 for each Nepali Sherpa
  • Nepal garbage and human waste deposit $4,000/team permit (refundable but not always)
  • Icefall Doctors to fix route $2,500/team or $600 per climber
  • Contribution to fixed ropes above Icefall $150/climber, higher on Tibet side
  • Weather forecast $0 to $1,000
  • Puja $300

Insurance $70 – $3,000

  • Evacuation Insurance $70 (American Alpine Club) – ~$500 (Global Rescue/TravelEx)
  • Medical only $500
  • Rescue Insurance for any reason with medical insurance and trip cancellation coverage – $3,000 (TravelEx)
  • Private pay helicopter evacuation from Everest South – $5,000 – $20,000 depending on start and end locations (not available on north)
  • All insurance figures are representative and will vary widely with age, length of trip and total cost.


3. Supplies/Gear $ 800 – $29,450

You will need to eat, stay warm and 97% of all Everest summiteers used supplemental oxygen.

You can cook your own food but most people use a Nepali cook and helpers at $5,000 for base camp and budget about $800 per person for food and fuel while climbing Everest over a six week period.

Supplemental oxygen runs about $550 per bottle with a minimum of 5 bottles totaling $2,750. But you will also need a mask at $450 and a regulator at $450. You can carry your own extra oxygen to the high camps, but most people use the Sherpas to cache them at the high camps. When hiring a personal Sherpa, the standard is for him to climb on oxygen, albeit at a lower flow rate, so this will run an additional $2,000.

Finally, you will need climbing gear including boots, down suit, clothing layers, gloves, sleeping bags, packs and more. This will cost at least $7,000 if you buy everything new. High altitude boots from La Sportiva or Millet run $1,000, a full down suit from Feathered Friends or Mountain Hardwear is over $1,000 and a sleeping bag rated to -20F is at least $500.

Misc $7,750 – $13,000 – $17,000

  • Full Medical kit $500 – $1,000 – add $2,000 for Gamow Bag
  • Sherpas, cooks tips and bonus $250 – $2,000++ per individual depending on performance and summit
  • Personal Gear (down suit, high altitude boots, sleeping bags, etc): $7,000
  • Satellite phone (own) $1,000 to $3,000 depending on usage
  • Gear allowance for Sherpas $2,000

EBC and High Camps $3,800 – $8,800

  • Tents $3,000 new (sleeping, cooking, toilet, storage at 4 camps for 3 people)
  • Cooks $5,000 per cook and assistant for 6 weeks
  • Food and fuel $800 per person for 6 weeks

Climbing Support $3,650 – $8,650

  • Oxygen $550/bottle (5 bottles) $2,750 (doesn’t include costs to take to high camps)
  • Oxygen Mask (Summit Oxygen) $450
  • Oxygen Regulator $450
  • Climbing Sherpa $5,000 per Personal Sherpa with oxygen at $2,000

See my current gear list.

4. Logistics (guide) $30,000 – $85,000

With all the previous costs broken out, you can join a fully supported or guided team that takes care of everything.

For decades, western operators like Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents (AAI), Jagged Globe, Himalayan Experience (Himex), International Mountain Guides (IMG) and others have guided hundreds to the top of Everest for prices ranging from $40,000 to $65,000, all inclusive.

But that is changing. In the last few years, there has been intense competition from Nepali owned and operated companies. With many Sherpas having ten or more summits of Everest, they are advertising themselves as Everest Guides and eliminating the traditional Western Guide who would be paid between $10,000 and $25,000 and this cost savings is passed on to the clients.

This, along with sometimes paying less than market wages to Sherpas, cooks and porters, the Nepali operators offer climbs that are half to a third of traditional western operators. In 2014, Seven Summits Treks, reportedly offered their Everest expedition for as low as $18,000 per climber. For 2017, they are offering a climb from Nepal at $30,000.

But times are changing! Many of the lead sherpas are now UIAGM certified with more summits than many of the Western guides.

Dreamers Destination has increased their price to climb from Everest in Nepal from $36,000 to $50,000. The owner, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is building on his successful expeditions to Annapurna, Everest and K2 to attract western clients. in November 2016, he organized a successful first ascent in Nepal for American clients.

Similarly, the Nepal based agency that used to organize Everest expeditions for Altitude Junkies, who has stop guiding on Everest due to the crowds, competition and other factors, Expedition Himalaya run by Navin Tirtal is offering Everest from Nepal at $35,000.

The last example I will give is TAGnepal owned and run by Tendi Shepa. He is an an IFMGA/UIAGM Certified Mountain Guide with 11 successful summits of Everest and climbs in the Himalaya, Europe (Alps), South America (Andes) and China. In addition, he is also a high altitude rescue professional. He took rescue training on Longline Helicopter rescue in 2011 at Sion, Switzerland. He is running a north side expedition in 2017 for $52,000 and from Nepal for $55,000.

If you want every perk and luxury you can imagine on a Himalayan peak in 2017, Alpenglow unapologetically offers a climb from the Tibet side for an astonishing $85,000 per climber, twice to three times the average price on the north side. They have a high western guide ratio, and include pre-acclimatizing in an altitude tent at home.

The median price of the companies I surveyed for 2017 (not exhaustive) looks to be about:

  • Sherpa Guided climb from Nepal:     $46,750 up   6% from 2016
  • Western Guided climb from Nepal:  $65,000 up 4.7% from 2016
  • Sherpa Guided climb from Tibet:      $39,980 up 22% from 2016

For your own personal Western Guide, International Mountain Guides will set you up for $114,000. To climb with RMI and Dave Hahn (15 times summiter) in a 1-1 ratio will cost well over $115,000

With all this as background, I used public websites and my own research to compile the 2017 Everest fees from the major Everest guide companies. I looked back at their 2016 summit rates and historical numbers where available. This is not a complete list of all guides and I did not look at small one person operations or those who do not run climbs each year for more than one or two clients. No endorsement is implied by inclusion on this list and is to be used for reference only. Check with the operator for details and questions.


Everest 2017 List Prices and 2016 Summit Rates

Typical Team Size
SOUTH w Sherpa Guide* SOUTH w Western Guide*
NORTH 2016 Summit Success
Median Price $46,750 $65,000 $39,980
Average Price $44,885 $64,750 $47,485
Median Nepal Company Price $37,000 N/A $29,070
Adventure Consultants
N/A $65,000 N/A 2016 (s): 5 of 8 clients, 2 guides, 16 Sherpas. 283 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1990
Adventure Peaks
N/A N/A $36,473 2016 (n): 6 of 6
Adventure Global
$49,000 N/A  N/A 2016 (s): 3 clients, 4 Sherpas
Altitude Junkies
N/A N/A N/A 2016 (s): 5 of 7 clients, 1 leader, 11 Sherpas. Not on Everest in 2017
N/A N/A $85,000 2016 (n): 2 of 2 clients, 2 guides, 3 Sherpas
Alpine Ascents International (AAI)
N/A $65,000 N/A 2016 (s): 2 of 2 clients, 1 guide, 3 Sherpas. 270 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1992. 78% success from 2004
Arnold Coster
N/A  N/A $32,500 no information available
Furtenbach Adventures
N/A $49,589 $43,846 2016 (s) 5 members, 6 Sherpas
Himalayan Experience (Himex)
N/A $70,000 N/A 2016 (s): 5 of 6 clients summited, 1 of 1 guides, 6 Sherpas, 376 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1994, 0 – 96% success
International Mountain Guides (IMG)
$44,000 $59,000 N/A 2016: 18 of ? clients, 2 guides, 26 Sherpas (2 pushes) est., 427 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1991. 70% from 2006
Jagged Globe (8-12) N/A $60,000 N/A 2016 (s): 4 of 5 clients, 1 guides, 5 Sherpas
Kobler & Partner
N/A $57,500 N/A no information available
Madison Mountaineering
N/A $65,000 N/A

2016 (s): 7 of 9 clients, 5 guides, 15 Sherpas

Mountain Trip
N/A $65,000 N/A

2016 (s): 2 of 2 clients, 1 guide, 4 Sherpas

Benegas Brothers
N/A $67,000 N/A no information available
N/A $74,000 N/A 2013 (s): 0 of 3 clients, 2 guides, 3 Sherpas
Peak Freaks
$49,500 N/A N/A 2013 (s): 4 of 8 clients, 2 guides, 8 Sherpas. Not on Everest in 2017
7 Summits Club
N/A N/A $59,000

2016 (n): 15 of 22 clients, 4 guide, 12 Sherpas

Summit Climb
$36,450 N/A $28,450 2016: 4 of 8 South and 10 of 11 clients north, 227 total summits both n and s (clients, Sherpas, guides)
Nepal Guide Companies
Asian Trekking
$39,000 est N/A $31,000 est 2013 (s):14 of 26 clients, 21 Sherpas, 2013 (n): 5 of 5 clients, 4 Sherpas, 310 total summits (clients, Sherpas) since 2003.
Dreamers Destinations
$50,000 N/A $40,000 no information available
Seven Summits Treks
$30,500 N/A $28,000 no information available
TAGnepal  $55,000 $52,000 2:1 client to UIAGM certified guide ratio and 1:1 client to Sherpa ratio.
Expedition Himalaya
$35,000  N/A  N/A no information available
Himalayan Ascent
$45,000 N/A N/A 2016 (s) 4 clients, 6 Sherpas

N/A = not offered, * full logistics support, gear, food, Personal Sherpa, oxygen, mask and regulator

You can see my thoughts on Everest guides on my main site at Selecting a Guide.



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Who Guides on Everest?

Anyone can call themselves a guide in Nepal, however there are three options for supported climbs: Sherpa supported, Sherpa guided and a western (foreign) guided commercial expedition. All leverage group costs such as deposits, cooks and tents across multiple climbers. Let’s look at them in detail:

Sherpa Supported Expedition

Please note this is Sherpa supported, not guided.

For about $35,000, you can climb on a Sherpa supported expedition on the south side. This is one where a company organizes all the logistics: food, group gear, transportation plus Sherpa support but does not provide traditional western guides or, in some case, even a lead Sherpa guide. The Sherpas may or may not speak English very well and will most likely follow your lead as to pushing forward or turning back.

A Sherpa will climb with you on summit night but you might be on your own with random teammates throughout the rest of the acclimatization climbing process, including preparing meals at the high camps. It is quite common to find yourself climbing only with a Sherpa or even alone. The Sherpas may have attended climbing school but will usually lack basic medical training and may not be of significant help in a health crisis other than getting you lower which is substantial.

Asian Trekking specializes in this style of climb and is very good. Seven Summits Treks is another option at a lower costs and many small one-man companies offer even lower prices. Look to pay in the mid $35,000 for this option. This is a good option for the climber with significant high altitude experience including previously on Everest. It is not for the novice or first timer on an 8000 meter peak.

Sherpa Guided Expedition

Please note this is Sherpa guided, not supported.

International Mountain Guide’s (IMG) Classic Everest climb is a Sherpa guided expedition that has an experienced Sherpa lead climbers through the route. IMG ask $44,000 for this model. Usually they depend on a Sirdar (a highly experienced senior Sherpa) to make the big decisions such as when to go for the summit or when to turn-around.

As previously mentioned, TAGnepal  has IFMGA/UIAGM Certified Mountain Guides and runs a south climb for $55,000 and a north for $52,000.  The line between Sherpa guide, Western guided is quickly becoming blurred.

A variation on this approach is to hire a Personal Sherpa. These Sherpas have gained significant experience and training in dealing one to one with western clients. Their English skills are usually very good but similar to a Sherpa supported, they may lack medical training but you will never climb alone.

While they will not carry your gear, they may offload some items from time to time. They will be with you exclusively on your summit night even if you turn around before the summit. This style is appropriate for climbers with previous 8000 meter experience, unusually strong, but again not for the novice. Expect to pay an additional $5K to $7K for a Personal Sherpa plus another 5% to 20% in tips and bonuses.

What do I get when I hire a Western Guide?

The western guided expeditions are ‘full service’ trips and are most appropriate for first time Everest climbers or anyone looking for a bit more support. The cost vary widely ranging from $55K to $85K. This includes all the services of a Sherpa guided climb plus sharing one or more western guides. If you want your own personal western guide, expect to pay $110K or more, plus tips and bonuses.

The major point of this approach is you are climbing in close proximity to a western guide who most likely has several summits of Everest under his/her harness. There is no language barrier and the guide will make all the decisions as to turn around times, weather and manage emergencies.

On these higher-end expeditions, you should have a high quality of food ranging from better prepared to exotic. One service likes to promote their sushi, another their 5 Star chef. Then there are espresso machines, open bars – in other words the sky’s the limit, all at a cost.

The most expensive guide companies (Adventure Consultants, AAI, Alpenglow, Himex, etc) almost always come with several western guides and you never climb alone.


Let’s look deeper at a few questions.

everest_route_northDo I have to take the standard routes?

No. You can get a permit to climb any of the 30 named routes on Everest or make up your own. If you want to traverse from Nepal to Tibet or the other way, you will need to get permits from both countries and China has refused to issue permission from their side for many years now.

Can I Climb Everest Alone?

No. The Nepal Ministry of Tourism requires every climber to hire a Sherpa guide. The CTMA has a similar requirement. But like everything around Everest, there are exceptions.

What is the minimum I can spend to climb Everest?

As previously addressed, it is almost impossible to climb Everest completely alone on the standard route. However, you can climb independent with no oxygen, Sherpa or cook support but using ladders and ropes on the south side. For one person this would cost at least $20,000 from Nepal, a bit less from China. Even splitting group expenses the base costs add up to $26,000 each for a 7 person team.

When you add in oxygen and base camp support, a one-person climb with Sherpa support approaches $45,000 but a 7 person team leveraging the group costs comes in at $37,000. By climbing from Tibet, you can save a few thousand dollars.

Old timers will brag about climbing Everest in the early 2000s or before for $5,000. Even then this price assumed no support, no oxygen, not contributing to the fixed ropes or ladders, no weather forecasting, etc. This post assumes most people want to climb in a relatively comfortable style and not eat rice every meal for six weeks.

Previously, you might of found a way to climb Everest from the north side for about $10,000 thru shortcuts, eliminating all support, oxygen and having almost no room for mistakes or unexpected events, but all that changed in 2017 with an individual permit now costing almost $10,000 alone. Still you might be able to climb from that side for under $15,000. Obviously I don’t recommend this approach for anyone.

What is the difference between a $30K and $65K Everest Climb?

There is a real difference in offerings by some companies and very little with others, so it’s up to the climber to shop wisely.

The general rule is that the lower the price, the larger the team. At the high end, it is often profit, overhead, and number of western guides. Also how many services are bundled into one single price versus offered as options. The lowest price outfits promote a low price and then offer “options” such as oxygen, Sherpa support or even food above base camp. One UK based outfitter offers a low price for the north side, but does not include oxygen, summit bonuses or other options almost everyone includes in their base price.

Another common practice to keep expedition costs low is to pay support staff the absolute minimum whereas the guide companies pay a livable wage for their entire team. But often it is the availability of resources: extra Sherpas, back up supplies (ropes, tents, oxygen bottles, etc), medical facilities, communications and profit and overhead for the operator. One well known low-cost operator had their tents destroyed one year, had no back up and had to beg other operators for spares … they also ran out of food.

An example of price confusion are Sherpas bonuses. A low price service may not include a bonus whereas another may. For example, one Nepali company asks the climber to pay $1,500 to their Sherpa if they reach the South Col and another $500 if they leave for the summit. This is not shown as part of the base price. But a different company includes these bonuses in their overall package. In both cases it is customary to tip your Sherpa, and western guide, an additional amount.

Cure Alzheimer's Fund on Everest

How many people have summited Everest?

The Grand Dame of all Everest statistics, Ms. Elizabeth Hawley reports on the Himalayan Database that there have been 7,646 summits of Everest through June 2016 on all routes by 4,469 different people.

1,015 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times. The Nepal side is more popular with 4,863 summits compared to 2,783 summits from the Tibet side. 14 climbers have traversed from one side to the other.

How Safe is Everest?

282 people (168 westerners and 114 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to June 2016. 70 climbers have died on the descent from the summit.

Everest is actually getting safer even though more people are now climbing. From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2016 with 6,421 summits and 112 deaths or 1.7%. However, two years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 19 in 2015. The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.

Annapurna remains the most deadly 8000 meter mountain with one death for almost every three summits (71:255) or 28% thru 2016. Cho Oyu is the safest of the 8000 meter mountains with about 50 deaths for over 3,508 summits or 1.4%. Each year more people die in the European Alps than on Everest.

Team size is a safety consideration. If you are climbing with a small or a thinly staffed team, there is the possibility of not having adequate resources to help you. It is a serious and sometime fatal mistake to believe that Everest is so crowded that someone will always be around to give aid if needed. Remember that each person is struggling to survive on their own, including the Sherpas, and may not have the strength to help regardless of their desire.

The bottom line is that teams who charge more or field a large team will generally have more resources available to support their clients.

Which side should I climb, north or south?South Col Route

Both sides have a lot to offer: Tibet with the mystery of Mallory and Irvine in 1924 and Nepal with the first summit by Hillary and Norgay in 1953.

The comparison between sides is pretty simple. The north is colder, windier and some feel technically harder since you climb on exposed rock. The south has the Khumbu Icefall which some now fear.

The Nepalese side has seen 176 deaths through June 2016 or 3.7% and 106 deaths or 3.8% on the Tibet side. Most bodies are still on the mountain but China has made a large effort to remove many bodies from sight. The top causes of death were from a fall, avalanche, exposure and altitude sickness.

640 people summited in spring 2016 from both sides: 199 from Tibet and 441 from Nepal. There were 5 deaths – all on the south.

The Tibet side is less crowded as the Nepal side has seen 4,863 summits compared to 2,783 summits from Tibet. However most long time guides still prefer the Nepal side as it is well known, more politically stable than China and with exceptions, safer as measured by summit to death ratio. Many climbers feel the trek through the Khumbu is a key part of any Everest climb.

Prior to 2014, the death rate was a bit less on the North side at 106 compared to 140 on the South. But with 16 Sherpas killed in the Khumbu Icefall in 2014 and 19 people at base camp in 2015, the South now has almost two thirds of the 282 total deaths on Everest. In 1922, 7 Sherpas were killed on the North side from an avalanche.

Taking a long term perspective, the numbers show that both sides are equally dangerous. The Nepalese side has seen 4,863 summits with 176 deaths through June 2016 or 3.7%. The Tibet side has seen 2,783 summits with 106 deaths through June 2016. or 3.8%

When choosing sides, keep in mind that as of 2017, China does not allow helicopter rescues on their side. That might change by 2020 as they are planning to build a massive Mountaineering Center at base camp to cater to tourist and have said they will start helicopter rescues as part of the center.

One can cherry pick the numbers to prove almost any point on which side is safe, but the bottom line is death happens on both sides of Everest and it often comes down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Should I Use Supplemental Oxygen?

everest_2003_245If you choose not to, you will be in a tiny group. Of the 7,646 summits, only 197 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through June 2016, or about 2.5%. But more critically, of the 282 deaths, 109 died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen or 38%.

Supplemental oxygen gives the body a 3,000 foot advantage. In other words, when the climber is at 28,000 feet, the body feels like it is at 25,000 feet. The main benefit of supplemental oxygen is that you feel warmer thus allowing the heart to pump blood, and oxygen to fingers and toes thus reducing the risk of frostbite.

Many people feel superior not using supplemental oxygen but climbing Everest should not be about ego – poor judgment and unnecessary risks can cost you your life. As mentioned, 2.5% climb without supplemental oxygen but 38% of the deaths are those who climbed without supplemental oxygen.

How Do I Pay for an Everest Climb?

Getting the money is almost always harder than climbing Everest. Climbers become very creative when finding money. Some take out loans, refinance their home mortgage, others have the infamous “rich uncle”. Then there are those who set up a website to sell t-shirts or ask for “donations” from strangers. Believe it or not, this actually works to raise some money but rarely enough to cover all the expenses.

But the most common way to fund an Everest climb is to make it a priority in your budget by setting money aside each month for as long as it takes. This is how I funded 26 of my big climbs since starting at age 38.

The question of obtaining a sponsor often comes up. It is extremely difficult to get on a sponsored team for example by one of the large outdoor gear companies. There are ways to obtain a sponsor but it takes years of work, a solid plan, proven experience and often comes down to who you know and a lot of luck.

Climbing for a charity or a cause is popular but be careful not to use your cause as a way to fund a climb. This is a poor practice to ask for donations to pay for a climb in my opinion.

You can read more about my own experiences with The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s: Memories are Everything and thoughts for sponsorship at this link.

What are my Chances?

Historically about 60% of all expeditions have put at least one member on the summit. The Himalayan Database shows that 48% of climbers who go higher than base camp summit.

In recent years, long time western operators like Jagged Globe, Adventure Consultants, Madison Mountaineering and others regularly put almost every member on the summit. Today operators use the standard routes so there are less unknowns. That along with improved weather forecasting, and extra supplemental oxygen and generous Sherpa support have made Everest one of the safest 8000 meter mountains and the most summited 8000er by a huge margin.

Why Everest?

Let’s wrap up with why even climb Everest at all? It is very popular to criticize anyone who has or is planning a climb. Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air, set a negative tone and profiled climbers as rich, inexperienced and selfish after his one climb in 1996. In my experience with six climbs on Everest or Lhotse, the opposite is today’s reality.

To be fair, in recent years, the marketing of low cost expeditions is attracting inexperienced climbers. This is all about supply and demand. All the puffery from the Nepal government about making Everest safer will have zero impact on this because all involved benefit from the profit.

If you want to attempt the world’s highest peak, do the work: get the proper experience, train your body to be in “Everest Shape” and prepare your mind to push yourself harder than you ever thought possible. Select a team that matches your experience, be smart, be humble and savor every moment.

I summarized my thoughts on a recent post of “I want to climb Everest

Climbing Everest is not easy. It is not for beginners. It is not to be rushed. Climbing Everest is a privilege. It is a right that should be earned.

When you fly into Kathmandu, you may see Everest out your window. It is at the same level as your airplane is flying. Let that sink in.

Climbing Everest is hard. It tests you in ways you never knew possible. You will understand that several months after you get home – regardless of your result

So, yes climbing Mount Everest, Chomolungma, Sagarmatha or Peak XV is life changing. Climb with confidence that you are prepared, knowledgable and with a clear sense of purpose.

If you summit, it will change your life. If you attempt it, it will change your life. But no matter the results, the experience is what you take away – not the summit.

Research, train, prepare and climb with confidence. The reward is worth the pain. The summit is worth the cost.

Climbing Everest can change your life.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

summit coachIf you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest or even K2, I can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 20 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive.


Everest Pictures and Video

© all images owned and copyrighted by Alan Arnette unless noted

A tour of Everest Base Camp 2016

Alan Arnette is the oldest American to summit K2 in 2014 and has 6 expeditions on Everest or Lhotse with a summit of Everest in 2011. He climbs to raise money and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

His Project 8000 is to climb the 8000 meter mountains he has not summited over the next 5 years. He is seeking sponsors for that project where he will reach 100 million people and raise $5 million for research and caregiver support.



  One Response to “How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Everest? – 2017 Edition”

  1. I wanted to thank you for the information and details in your article. I have adapted it and made a killer lesson plan for my freshmen world geography students AND my sophomore economics class. We are creating our own budgets to climb and learning trade-offs, opportunity cost, and scarcity. My freshmen will take it one step further and take fake pictures of themselves at the summit for use in their “scrapbooks.” I had one student tell me his dream really is to climb tall mountains one day and he is really into this project.
    Hope all of your climbs are as successful as my lesson!