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Dec 082017
 
Southeast Ridge

“How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?” The short answer is a car or at least $30,000 but most people pay about $45,000 and the price is going up.

This 2018 update looks at the current prices, trends and how 2017 turned out what 2018 might bring. This annual update since 2013 has become one of my most popular posts. If you see a mistake or want to add something, please let me know.


See the Everest 2018 Season Coverage!


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

Big Picture

The headline for 2018 is that prices went up at the low-end and ultra high-end. Climbing from China saw the largest overall increases again this year but the increase is driven by a few high-end companies trying to differentiate their product.

In 2018, it remains slightly less expensive to climb from Tibet whether guided or unguided, except with the ultra high-end western companies. The median price is $41,500 from Nepal and $38,500 from Tibet.

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 five years, companies have increased their prices by 6% on the Nepal side and 12% on the Chinese side.

Recently, 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 have started to increase their prices. That said, they will make you a deal unlike most western operators who sell out quickly.

Guided climbs on Everest is like any competitive marketplace, it’s 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.

Bottom line: Look for Everest to become more crowded, more expensive over the next five years, regardless of which side you climb, and six to eight people to lose their life each year – more on the south side due to more people climbing that side.
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Everest 2017 Review

The random weather was the main story for 2017 – on both sides – but especially on the south. Weather forecasters worked hard to make accurate predictions but were constantly frustrated with high winds on the Nepal side and calm conditions on the north.

Regardless, it was a near record year 648 summits, 237 from Tibet and 411 from Nepal. There were 6 deaths; 3 of those were not using supplemental Oxygen. A bit unusual was the number of attempts not using supplement oxygen – 19 in all – 11 succeeded.

The highest number of Everest summit occurred in 2013 with 665 summits – 541 on the south and 124 on the north. There were 8 deaths that year.

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Everest 2018 Outlook

After disastrous 2014 and 2015 seasons, Everest returned to “normal” in 2016 and 2017. This has lured many people to believe the “yellow brick road to the summit” is back open. That would be a mistake judging by the deaths, rescues and number of climbers with frostbite.

In any event, I look for another strong season on both sides with Chinese and India climbers taking over the majority from US and UK climbers. Look for another big year on the Tibet side. The last two years have been the largest numbers since 2006 and 2007. China closed Everest in 2008 for the Olympics stalling the momentum that was building, but that is in the past and the north side is gaining popularity each year.

Expiring permits is once again driving Everest climbers to go now rather than wait. Nepal permits extended from the 2014 Sherpa strike expire in 2019. After the 2015 earthquake, permits were extended until 2017 on both sides and have expired.  Expiring permits were one factor in the 2017 season with 166 people using permit extensions.

There are rumors the Nepal government will increase the permit fee from $11,000 to $15,000 starting in 2019 so some people are not taking a chance and going in 2018. But as with most rumors from the government, this one is suspect at best perhaps started by operators to encourage business this year!

The Nepal Ministry of Tourism continued their annual press releases about new rules to make Everest safer. The 2017 edition proposed to ban climbers with disabilities. Read more at this link. The majority of new “rules” announced over the past five years were never implemented anyway.  You can read about the history of those proposed rules at this post along with my opinion on the merits and feasibility.
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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. But I know there are individuals who have climbed on the cheap in years past, but few if any in the last five years.
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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 airfare. Of course you can take a bus to Jiri and trek 5 days to Luka and then on to EBC to save a little money.

From Lukla, it 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 be between $400 to $1,000 per person in total 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 of 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, all transportation is included in your climbing permit and monitored by the government. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) will meet you where you arrive in China and never leave you the entire expedition.

Travel $2,450 – $8,350

  • Airfare $1500 to $7000 depending on class and routing and excess baggage
  • Transportation Kathmandu to Lukla $350 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

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

Nepal

The permit cost is fixed at $11,000 per climber from Nepal and 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/permit 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.  They are proposing it again for the 2018 season.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 2017, one person climbed without a permit was caught, deported and banned from climbing in Nepal for five years 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 but expensive. To save money, joining the American Alpine Club will provide $7,500 evacuation coverage through Global Rescue but only back to the trailhead where you must organize your own way to a hospital or home. Most people upgrade that basic coverage for a few hundred dollars.

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.

Tibet

The Chinese have recently increased climbing permits for Everest which effectively eliminates a low cost, single person climb from Tibet for under $20,000 forcing climbers to team up with at least three other members. This is not a big deal for independent climbers since many guides are glad to have you on their permit for a small fee and not provide any support.

An Everest climbing permit from the Chinese (North side) is now USD $9,950 per person for a team permit of 4 or more; with three or fewer members, the permit skyrockets to $19,500 per person. This price includes transportation from the entry point in China (usually Lhasa or Zhangmu–Kodari) 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.

If you want to bring a Nepali 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. Helicopters are not allowed but are rumored to be offered in the next few years. It would be wise to double check everything with your provider to understand the details when climbing in China.

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, but planned)
  • All insurance figures are representative and will vary widely with age, length of trip and total cost.

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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 $600.

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

With all the previous costs broken out, it can be overwhelming. Don’t despair, 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 these cost savings is passed on to the members.

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 2018, they are listing a climb from Nepal at $39,000 but the real price is probably $30,000.

Many of the lead sherpas are now UIAGM certified (albeit at a lower standard for some) 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 own personal ambitions to summit all 14 of the 800ers to attract members, primarily from China.

Similarly, the Nepal based agency 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 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 2018 for $52,000 and from Nepal for $55,000. He is also partnering with Mike Hammil’s new company Climbing the Seven Summits.

If you want every perk and luxury you can imagine on a Himalayan peak in 2018, Alpenglow and Fuenbach unapologetically offer climbs from the Tibet side for an astonishing $85,000 to $110,000 per climber, twice to three times the average price on the north side. They have a high western guide ratio, include pre-acclimatizing in an altitude tent at home, unlimited oxygen and multiple attempts for the peak bagger at heart.

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 2018 Everest fees from the major Everest guide companies. I looked back at their 2017 summit rates and historical numbers where available using my own research, their websites and the Himalayan Database.

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 members. No commentary is implied by exclusion or inclusion on this list and is to be used for reference only. Check with the operator for details and questions.

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Everest 2018 List Prices and 2017 Summit Rates

COMPANY
Typical Team Size
SOUTH w Sherpa Guide* SOUTH w Western Guide*
NORTH 2017 Results 2017 Member Summits and Success %
Median Western Company Price $44,000 $65,000 $40,000
Median Nepal Company Price $39,000 N/A $37,000
Adventure Consultants
(8-12)
N/A $65,000 N/A 2017 (s): 7 of 10 members, 5 guides, 18 Sherpas. 313 total summits (members, Sherpas, guides) since 1990 7 of 10 for 70%
Adventure Peaks
(10-12)
N/A N/A $35,500 2017 (n): 3 of 4 members, 1 Guides, 2 Sherpas 3 of 4 for 75%
Adventure Global
(6-10)
$49,000 N/A  N/A 2017 (s):  0 of 2 members, 0 Sherpas 0 – 0%
Altitude Junkies
(8-12)
N/A N/A $42,000  Not on Everest in 2017 N/A
AlpenGlow
(4-8)
N/A N/A $85,000 2017 (n): 1 members, 2 guides, 4 Sherpas 1 of 1 for 100%
Alpine Ascents International (AAI)
(8-16)
N/A $65,000 N/A 2017 (s): 5 of 8 members, 1 guide, 6 Sherpas. 281 total summits (members, Sherpas, guides) since 1992. 78% success from 2004. Death of cook boy 5 of 8 for 62%
Arnold Coster
(4-8)
44,500  N/A $36,500 2017 (n): 2 of 8 members, 1 guide, 3 Sherpas 2 of 8 for 25%
Furtenbach Adventures
(6-10)
N/A $64,000 $110,000 2017 (s) 7 of 8 members, 1 of 2 guides, 8 Sherpas 7 of 8 for 88%
Himalayan Experience (Himex)
(6-10)
N/A $70,000 N/A 2017 (s): 4 of 9 members summited, 1 guide, 4 Sherpas, 380 total summits (members, Sherpas, guides) since 1994, 0 – 96% success  4 of 9 for 44%
International Mountain Guides (IMG)
(20-40)
$44,000 $59,000 N/A 2017: 20 of 29 members, 3 guides, 32 Sherpas (2 pushes) est., 482 total summits (members, Sherpas, guides) since 1991. 85%% from 2006 20 of 29 for 68%
Jagged Globe (8-12) N/A $46,800 N/A 2017 (s): 13 of 20 members, 13 Sherpas (British Gurkha Expedition) 13 of 20 for 65%
Kobler & Partner
(8-12)
N/A $57,500 N/A 2017 (n): 9 of 11 members, 1 guide, 10 Sherpas 9 of 11 for 82%
Madison Mountaineering
(8-12)
N/A $65,000 N/A

2017 (s): 8 of 12 members, 4 guides, 14 Sherpas

8 of 12 for 66%

Mountain Trip
(4-8)
N/A $67,000 N/A

2017 (s): 4 of 6 members, 1 guide, 6 Sherpas

4 of 6 for 66%

Mountain Professionals

2017 (s): 3 of 5 members, 1 guide, 5 Sherpas

3 of 5 for 60%

Benegas Brothers
(4-8)
N/A $65,000 N/A 2017 (s): 3 of 5 members, 2 guide, 5 Sherpas 3 of 5 for 82%
RMI
(4-10)
N/A $74,000 N/A not on Everest in 2017 N/A
Tim Mosedale 2017 (s): 4 of 5 members, 1 guide, 4 Sherpas 4 of 5 for 80%
7 Summits Club
(20-30)
N/A $65,000 $80,000

2017 (n): 11 of 12 members, 1 guide, 10 Sherpas

11 of 12 for 91%

Summit Climb
(5-20)
$36,500 N/A $36,500 2017: 3 of 16 members South, 1 death (Roland Yearwood) and 6 of 10 members north, 227 total summits both n and s (members, Sherpas, guides) 3 of 16 for 18%

1 death

Nepal Guide Companies
Ascent Himalaya 2017 (s): 8 of 9 members, 9 Sherpas 8 of 9 for 88%
Asian Trekking
(10-30)
$39,000 est N/A $34,000 est 2017 (s):10 of 26 members, 15 Sherpas,  330 total summits (members, Sherpas) since 2003. 10 of 26 for 38%
Arun Treks (India Transcend Adventures) 2017 (n): 16 of 25 members, 21 Sherpas 16 of 25 for 64%
Dreamers Destination
(8-12)
$42,500 N/A $40,000 2017 (n): 4 of 5 members, 4 Sherpas 4 of 5 for 80%
Seven Summits Treks
(30-50)
$33,000 N/A $30,000 2017 (s):10 of 23 members, 5 Sherpas, 10 of 23 for 23%
Satori 2017 (s): 7 of 10 members, 6 Sherpas 7 of 10 for 70%
TAGnepal  $55,000 $52,000 2:1 member to UIAGM certified guide ratio and 1:1 member to Sherpa ratio.
Expedition Himalaya
(5-10)
$35,000  N/A  N/A 2017 (s): 1 of 6 members, 1 Sherpa 1 of 6 for 16%
Himalayan Ascent
(5-10)
$45,000 N/A N/A 2016 (s) 4 members, 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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Surveys

Would you climb Everest?

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Which Guide service would you use for Everest?

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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. The company organizes all the logistics: food, group gear, transportation plus Sherpa support but does not provide western guides or, in some cases, 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 by yourself. The Sherpas may have attended a 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 and often life-saving.

Asian Trekking specializes in this style of climb and is very good. Seven Summits Treks is another option at a lower cost and many small one-man Nepali companies offer even lower prices. Look to pay around $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 a highly experienced and certified Sherpa guide and a Western guide 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 members. 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 all 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 $110K. 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 summited Everest several times. 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, Furtenbach, Himex, etc) almost always come with several western guides and you never climb alone.
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Q&A

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 however China has refused to issue permission from their side for many years now. In 2017 a climber illegally made the traverse and was deported and banned for 5 years. He claimed it was a medical emergency.

Can I Climb Everest Alone?

Officially 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 might be able to save a few thousand dollars.

Old timers will brag about climbing Everest in the early 2000’s 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 have 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.

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 backup and had to beg other operators for spares … they also ran out of food.

An example of price confusion are Sherpa’s 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 Himalayan Database reports that there have been 8,306 summits (4333 members and 3973 hired) of Everest through June 2017 on all routes by 4,833 different people. About 63% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit.

1,106 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times. There have been 539 summits by women.

How Safe is Everest?

288 people (173 westerners and 115 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to June 2017, about 3.5% of the summits. Of the deaths over half, 168, died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen. 73 climbers died on the descent from the summit. 11 women have died.

The top causes of death on both sides were from avalanche (77), fall (67), altitude sickness (32) and exposure (26) but just looking at climbing from Tibet or Nepal, it misses the detail where the deaths occur.

As this chart shows, the standard routes account for 73% of the deaths with the Southeast Ridge dominating all deaths at 137 or 48%. This number is heavily driven by the 2014 ice serac release off the West Shoulder of Everest onto the Khumbu Icefall taking 17 lives and when 14 people were killed at Basecamp in 2015 after 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused an avalanche off the Pumori-Lintgren ridgeline.

Whether these were one time events or ongoing concerns have yet to be determined. Climbers must make their own decision as to the safer standard route.

Here is the summary update with 2017 statistics:

Reason

Northeast Ridge

Southeast  Ridge

Other Routes

total

Avalanche

7

39

31

77

Fall

18

25

24

67

AMS

14

15

3

32

Exposure/Frostbite

10

6

10

26

Illness (non AMS)

5

14

3

22

Exhaustion

10

9

1

20

Icefall Collapse

0

13

2

15

Crevasse

0

9

1

10

Disappearance

4

2

3

9

other/unknown

3

2

2

7

Falling Rock/Ice

0

3

0

3

Total

71

137

80

288

% of Total

25%

48%

28%

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 2017 with 7,056 summits and 118 deaths or 1.7%. However, two years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 14 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 every three summits (71:261) or 27%. The Himalaya Database puts the death rate for Everest at 1.22 compared to Annapurna at 3.91, the highest death rate of the 8000ers. Cho Oyu is the safest of the 8000 meter mountains with about 50 deaths for over 3,508 summits or 1.4% or a death rate of 0.55. 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 sometimes 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 climbing the standard routes is safer with the Northeast Ridge having less overall deaths than the Southeast Ridge and climbing with teams who charge more or field a large team will generally have more resources available to support their members thus fewer deaths.

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 Nepal side is more popular with 5,280 summits compared to 3,026 summits from the Tibet side. 208 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen, about 2.5%. 15 climbers have traversed from one side to the other.

In 2017 there were 648 summits, 237 from Tibet and 411 from Nepal and 11 didn’t use supplemental oxygen. There were 6 deaths, 3 didn’t use Os and only 1 died on the descent.

The Tibet side is less crowded as the Nepal side has seen 5,280 summits compared to 3,026 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 288 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 5,280 summits with 181 deaths through June 2017 or 3.6%,a rate of 1.27. The Tibet side has seen 3,206 summits with 107 deaths through June 2017 or 3.3% a rate of 1.15.

When choosing sides, keep in mind that as of 2018, 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 8,306 summits, only 208 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through June 2017, or about 2.5%. But more critically, of the 288 deaths 69 members aka members died during their summit bid without using supplemental oxygen.

The Nepalese side has seen 105 died without using Os. The Tibet side 40 died not using Os.

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.

While climbing without Os is a serious accomplishment, it is not for everyone. Many try and few succeed.

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 35% of members who go higher than base camp go on to summit.

In recent years, long time western operators like Jagged Globe, Adventure Consultants, Furtenbach, Madison Mountaineering and others regularly put almost every member on the summit. I have listed the 2017 summit success percentage in the table above.

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.
2

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!
Alan
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.


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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.

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  3 Responses to “How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Everest? – 2018 Edition”

  1.  

    Bahendripal ke campas Ka main address
    Please tale me

  2.  

    Interesting that of the 168 people who died attempting a summit with no oxygen only 32 died of altitude sickness and 26 from exposure, therefore 110 died of avalanche or fall. While I can see how exposure could be tied to lack of oxygen, would not having oxygen make them more likely to fall or get in an avalanche?

    •  

      A bit confusing here. The 168 are climbers not using oxygen. The other numbers are for all death (288).

      I ran the report for cause of death and not using oxygen. 66: avalanche, 25: fall, 18: illness, 15: icefall collapse, 15: AMS, 9 exposure/frostbite, 1: exhaustion.

      The avalanche is so large due to several events on both sides over the years: 1922 where 7 Sherpas died on the North, 1970 with 8 deaths in an Icefall collapse, 7 in 1974 and 2014 where 15 Sherpas died.

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