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Dec 132021
 

2022 will be my 19th season of all-things Everest: 14 times providing coverage, another four seasons of actually climbing on Everest, and two years attempting Lhotse. I did similar coverage for the 200420052006200720092010, 2012201320142015, 2016, 201720182019 and 2021 seasons. In 2020, I did a fictitious Virtual Everest series available as an e-Book. I summited Everest on May 21, 2011, and have attempted Everest three other times – 200220032008, and Lhotse in 2015 and 2016.

2022 is my eighth year to blog, “How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?” The COVID-19 pandemic took a massive toll on the world and tourism in particular. With the lockdowns and travel restrictions, mountaineering almost completely halted. Both Nepal and China closed Everest in 2020; however, China allowed a small team of around 30 nationals to climb from their side. In 2021, China again closed it to foreigners while Nepal pretended nothing was happening and issued a record number of permits to foreigners last year. I fully expect both Nepal to be open in 2022, but you never know with China, so if you have plans to climb on that side, have a backup plan.

So, how much does it cost to climb Mount Everest? As I’ve said for years, the short answer is a car, but the prices have skyrocketed, so now it’s a lovely car. Most people pay between $40,000 and $50,000, and some will pay as much as $160,000! But, the prices are going up, and I don’t know where it will stop. So if you are on a tight climbing budget, go as soon as your skills, experience, and checkbook can support a safe attempt.

Here we go with a long and detailed look at Everest 2022. As always, if you see a mistake or want to add something, please let me know. Click here to subscribe for notifications of new blog posts.


UPDATES:

Update 12/18/2021: Nepal CANCELLED the mandatory 7-day quarantine requirement upon arrival in Nepal for people traveling to and from 67 African and European countries 

Update 12/17/2021: Nepal has issued a mandatory 7-day quarantine requirement upon arrival in Nepal for people traveling to and from 67 African and European countries

Update 12/14/2021: I’m getting mixed reports about China being open to foreigners in 2022 so have changed the wording in this post to reflect the uncertainty.


Follow the 2022 Everest Coverage!


Preparing for Everest is More than Training

summit coach

If 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, we 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 27 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.


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

15

Big Picture – Higher Prices from Everyone and Deals for Some!

The headline for 2022 is that prices continue to increase from all operators on both sides. The increases are due to the Chinese raising permit fees, more Nepalese regulations around minimum pay and insurance, and a strong environment of supply and demand from clients. As I said before, there is an insatiable demand to climb the world’s highest mountain.

So, do you have to be rich to climb Everest in 2022? The Nepali operators have always been willing to deal, so take their list prices as an opening bid. With a hurting tourism business, the Nepali companies are in the mood to make deals. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get on a low-end, essential services-only trip for $30,000. As for dealing with foreign operators, don’t bet on a significant discount. It’s customary to offer a little off if you pay in a year in advance, but that’s about it. They fill their teams months in advance so there’s little incentive to discount.

The following chart breaks down the current median prices by style and route. I’ll go into more detail later in this post; however, you can quickly see how much the prices have increased on both sides, for all styles:

Nepal 2021Nepal 2022% IncreaseTibet 2021Tibet 2022% Increase
Nepali Guide Service$44,500$45,0007%$42,500$45,0003.5%
Foreign Guide Service with Sherpa Guide$46,000$48,0005.6%
Foreign Guide Service with Western Guide$74,000$68,0002%$74,200$67,00011%

As for safety, people die on both sides. Most of the deaths these days are due to inexperience and not who you selected as your guide. However, choosing a competent guide could save your life. The 11 deaths in 2019 tragically demonstrated what happens when inexperienced people go with unqualified guides.

2

Everest 2022 Outlook

Depending on COVID and if China opens Everest and travel to Nepal is not restricted (big IFs!!) I expect 2022 to be a record year on Everest, with price increases across the board.

Some operators are promoting Everest 2022 from the Chinese side but others are saying China will be closed due to COVID. An official announcement is expected in February. However, in 20008, they made their decision to close for the Olympics in early March after travel plans were complete and in some cases (like mine!) bags were packed. Nepal will certainly be open. If they didn’t close in 2021, they never will. The backed-up demand from limited climbing the last two years may result in record permits and crowds on both sides.

The bottom line for 2022: Everest had 472 people summit on the Nepal side; however, over 150 foreigners left with COVID, and perhaps as many Sherpas became infected during or after the season. But Nepal denied any problems, and some in the world bought the PR. With a backlog of demand, look for Nepal to issue over 500 foreigner permits and China at least 200. So yes, Everest will be crowded once again. 

COVID-19

Whether COVID and the new Omicron variant will take a toll on the climbers is probably the wildcard, with the weather a constant second in the mix. So the best action is to contact your country’s embassy for the latest regulations. One thing is certain, it’s best to be fully vaccinated, including a booster, to travel, and to keep yourself safe. And, perhaps more importantly, to keep the local people safe on both sides of Everest.

Nepal

For US citizens, Nepal made this recent announcement that may be a forebearer of news to come:

Effective 12:01 am GMT on December 2, travelers arriving from South Africa, Hongkong, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi and Mozambique as first port of embarkation or transit or with travel history of such countries within past three weeks are restricted to enter Nepal.  Ministry of Health and Population will further identify the countries with risk of Omicron spread and the Department of Immigration will re-issue travel advisory accordingly.

All fully vaccinated foreigners arriving in Nepal via the immigration office at the airport or a land border (except from above listed nine countries) can receive on-arrival visas. No quarantine required. Fully-vaccinated travelers traveling to Nepal must present the following documents:

  • Evidence of completion of a 14 day post-COVID-19 vaccination incubation period
  • COVID-19 negative (RT-PCR, Gene Expert, True NAAR or WHO accredited test) obtained within 72 hours of the departure from port of embarkment or within 72 hours, if entering Nepal by land
  • Copy of mountaineering/trekking permits, or related permits, if available
  • Proof of hotel reservation in Nepal
  • Printed copy of International Traveler Online Arrival Form obtained after registration: ccmc.gov.np  .

Foreigners without complete vaccination against COVID-19 arriving by air (except from above listed nine countries) must obtain a visa from the Nepali diplomatic missions abroad and allowed to enter Nepal through agencies. On-arrival visas at land border entries are not available to unvaccinated travelers. All unvaccinated and semi-vaccinated travelers must comply with the Government of Nepal’s 10-day quarantine mandate, which requires quarantine at a local hotel at their own cost. A PCR test must be completed and returned negative on 11th day before travelling within the country will be permitted. Such travelers must present the following documents:

  • COVID-19 negative (RT-PCR, Gene Expert, True NAAR or WHO accredited test) obtained within 72 hours of the departure from port of embarkment or within 72 hours, if entering Nepal by land
  • Copy of mountaineering/trekking permits, or related permits, if available
  • Proof of hotel reservation in Nepal
  • Printed copy of International Traveler Online Arrival Form obtained after registration in ccmc.gov.np 

China

China announced these procedures:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter?  Yes.
    • China currently allows foreign nationals with valid residence permits and visas to enter the country under certain very limited conditions. The U.S. Embassy has no say in these policies, and these are subject to change at any time.
    • As of December 23, 2020, travelers must complete PCR NAT and IgM antibody tests in the departure city. Please follow guidance on the PRC Embassy website to identify approved labs.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test required for entry?  Yes.
    • All inbound passengers are required to quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. Testing upon arrival and for release from quarantine may include blood tests, as well as oral, nasal, and anal swab tests.
  • On March 15, 2021, the Chinese Embassy in the United States announced updated visa facilitation procedures for certain applicants inoculated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. Please see the PRC Embassy website (Chinese language only) for more information.
  • On April 16, 2021, the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., announced new procedures for vaccinated travelers to China.  Please see the Chinese Embassy in Washington website  (Chinese language only) for more information.
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry?  Yes.
  • All Chinese visa related questions should be directed to the local Chinese Exit-Entry Bureau (EEB).
  • U.S. citizens in China on a visa or residence permit may contact the nearest office of the EEB to apply for an extension. Extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis.
  • In the event the local situation deteriorates, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates may have limited availability to provide assistance to U.S. nationals within China. The United States is not offering evacuation flights from China at this time.

Who’s Climbing and New Rules?

In keeping with the past few years, look for more climbers than ever from China and India. As I’ve detailed in the past, China requires all Chinese Nationals to have a climb on an 8000-meter peak before climbing Everest from China; thus, many go to Nepal where there are no experience requirements. As for the Indian climbers, it’s folklore that if you summit Everest, you can leverage that into fame and fortune – a considerable miscalculation by so many. But many Nepali/Indian guide companies meet this market demand plus creating a profitable business running training programs for the under-20 crowd then taking them to Everest. Unfortunately, this approach is a deadly gamble that may backfire one day.

With the COVID virus combined with turmoil in the Nepal Government, they announced no new rules – a pleasant change from their recent history of ginning up the climbing community with promises of a cleaner, safer environment with phantom new restrictions. The staff at the Ministry of Tourism changed throughout 2021; thus, less leadership and continuity for previous policies conspire to suggest that operators, especially well-connected Nepali companies, will do as they wish.

The bottom line for 2022 climbers is to triple-check with the evacuation company that you have full coverage (evacuation, medical, and repatriation) plus are covered for COVID for the guide service you use.

14

Everest 2021 Review

The spring 2021 season on Everest was perhaps the most complicated in history. With COVID out of control in India and then to Nepal, it didn’t take long to reach Everest Base Camp, despite the government’s adamant denials and cover-ups. Unfortunately, some guides also participated in this scandal who feared punishment for spreading “bad news,” a tarnished reputation for not taking care, or simple greed to ensure future business – we’ll never know but their credibility took a hit.

China closed Tibet to all foreigners but allowed one national team to climb, but they canceled a few weeks, citing fear of getting COVID from the Nepal side climbers on the summit – laughable.

The Nepal government issued a record of 408 permits to foreigners, but only 190 members summited, 46%, compared to 76% in 2019. An estimated 150 people evacuated Everest Base Camp with COVID symptoms. An astounding 282 Sherpa summited, continuing the trend of Sherpa dwarfing foreigners for Everest summits. Two members and two Sherpa died this spring, on the low-end of the usual death count on Everest.

I expect 2022 to be a record year on Everest, with price increases across the board. There was little learned from the 2021 season.

Read my Everest 2021 Season Summary

 

3

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. For 2022, there will be no significant changes to this cost structure. 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.

I know a few individuals climbed on the cheap in years past, but few, if any, in the last five years. I usually get a reply to this article saying, “Alan you’re crazy. I climbed Everest and spent $5,000.” Congratulations if that’s true, but chances are it was in the last century, was illegal (no permit), or on the North before China raised their prices and put in team size minimums. If there is someone who can tell me how to climb that inexpensively in 2022, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

3

1. Travel $500 – $10,125

The travel costs entirely depend 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. Double-check that the airline you want to use has permission to fly to Kathmandu in this COVID environment. Be prepared to show your vaccination card.

Once in Kathmandu, it would be best if you flew to Lukla, Namche, or Lhasa to start the journey to base camp, so add a few hundred dollars for this airfare. Then, of course, you can take a bus to Jiri and trek five 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, so add in food and lodging along the way for you and your support team. The trek costs can range between $400 to $1,000 per person. But, depending on your travel style and how many beers you buy, you can save money. Remember that everything becomes more expensive the closer you get to Base Camp, so buy batteries, toilet paper, etc., in Kathmandu, Lukla, or Namache. Teahouses have dramatically increased their prices in the Khumbu. You can still find the $5 per night teahouse but expect to pay $5-10 for each meal. Climbers can always camp in tents and cook their meals to save money, but if you camp and eat in the teahouse, expect to pay four times the price if you sleep in the teahouse.

You have to get yourself to base camp and all of your gear – tents, food, oxygen, etc. Most people use porters and yaks costing at least $20 per day per load, which usually totals over a thousand dollars. Large operators will hire helicopters and bundle the expense into the overall price.
On the Tibet side, all transportation is included in your climbing permit and monitored by the government. In addition, the China Mountaineering Association (CMA) 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

5

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

Nepal

Nepal has an $11,000 permit fee per individual. It simply permits a climber to climb. In Argentina for Aconcagua or Alaska for Denali, the $800 or $365 permit, respectively, maintain high altitude ranger camps, hiring seasonal staff, providing mountaineering information, and keeping the mountain environment clean. On Denali, the permit includes helicopter evacuation is the case of life or limb.

Nepal requires using a local company to organize your permit at $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 to hire a local Sherpa Guide. It is still there for the 2022 season. However, in 2018, I saw climbers with zero porters or Sherpa support, so this policy is unevenly enforced, if at all. While very unclear how or if this rule is enforced for every operator, it would add a minimum of $4,000 to the absolute lowest cost. In 2017, one person who climbed without a permit was caught, deported, and banned from climbing in Nepal for five years by the Nepal authorities. Both sides are cracking down on unauthorized climbing, so beware.

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, some as high as $45,000.

Travelex is a popular choice but expensive. To save money, joining the American Alpine Club will provide $7,500 up to $300,000 evacuation coverage through Global Rescue but only back to the trailhead, where you must organize your way to a hospital or home on your own. Most people upgrade that basic coverage for a few hundred dollars. Redpoint’s Ripcord Rescue Travel Protection program is another popular evacuation company.

With all these policies, you must follow their rules strictly, or you will not be covered – and I mean precisely one misstep, and you are not covered. Again, exactly. Also, most do not cover searches and those who do, have low limits. Finally, Nepal requires COVID insurance but may drop that requirement before the season starts. However, many of the traditional evac companies will not cover you if COVID is involved, so once again, double-check the policy and get everything in writing.

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 three-person requirement 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 (Northside) is now between $15,800 to 18,000 per person for a team permit of 4 or more. 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. In addition, 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 $4,500 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 a centralized team performs all on-mountain rescues. The rescued climber is on the hook for an unspecified and unlimited fee. Helicopters are not allowed but are rumored in the next few years, maybe by 2023. 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 the total price from a guide)
  • Nepalese Liaison Officer $3,000/team (usually included in the 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 between $15,800 to 18,000 per person for teams of 4 or more. $4,500 for each Nepali Sherpa
  • Nepal garbage and human waste deposit $4,000/team permit (refundable but not always)
  • Tibet 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 $200/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 to $5,000 (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.

6

3. Supplies/Gear $ 800 – $29,450

You will need to eat, stay warm and 97% of all Everest summiteers use supplemental oxygen. You can cook your food, but most people use a cook and helpers costing $5,000 for base camp and budget about $800 per person for food and fuel while climbing Everest over six weeks.

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 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, a down suit, clothing layers, gloves, sleeping bags, packs, and more. These items 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. You can often find lightly used climbing gear on eBay.

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.
7


Preparing for Everest is More than Training

summit coach

If 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, we 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 27 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.


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

With all the previous costs broken out, it can be overwhelming. But, 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. There has been intense competition from Nepali-owned and operated companies in the last few years. With many Sherpas having ten or more summits of Everest, they advertise themselves as Everest Guides and eliminate the traditional Western Guide, who earns between $10,000 and $25,000 for the season. This cost-saving is passed through to the members. However, in 2022, Sherpas are earning salaries similar to Westerners, so the price gap is much narrower today.

Some Nepali operators are well-known for underpaying their staff, thus offering half to a third of traditional western operators. In 2021, Seven Summits Treks reportedly offered their Everest expedition for as low as $28,000 per climber. One common trend is that almost all Nepali guides will privately negotiate and discount while most foreign operators will not.

Many of the lead Sherpas are now have a subset (no ski qualification, for example)of the IFMGA certification with more summits than many Western guides. This certification allows the Sherpas to earn up to $10,000 for the Everest season compared to $4-5,000 previously. This trend will drive the cost of the Nepali companies up over time as more and more Sherpas become certified.

With all this background, I used public websites and my research to compile the 2022 Everest fees from the major Everest guide companies. Then, I looked back at their latest (2019 or 2021) summit rates and historical numbers, if available, using my research, their websites, and the Himalayan Database. Remember, there were virtually no climbers on Everest in China in 2021.

This list is not comprehensive 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. I’m not making endorsements by including or excluding a company from the list. It’s for reference only. Check with the operator for details and questions.

Almost all guides increased their prices, but those non-Nepali operating with a Western Guide on the Tibet side increased their fee an average of 11%, primarily driven by costs increase from the Chinese and new rules. The Nepal side operators increased by between 2-7%. Without a doubt, climbing with a Nepali-owned company is half the price of a foreign operator with multiple western guides. However, some foreign companies offer Sherpa lead trips that can be very price competitive.

Prices usually include 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.


8
2022 Expedition Price Chart

 


9

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2

Who Guides on Everest?

There are no requirements to call yourself a guide in Nepal. In fact, the Nepal Ministry of Tourism calls every Sherpa a Sherpa Guide regardless of their training or experience. 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 and what most Nepali-owned companies offer.

For about $45,000, you can climb on a Sherpa-supported expedition. The cost is about 5-7% higher than last year. 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 well and will most likely follow your lead to push forward or turn back. You are fully responsible for your safety and life.

You must be extremely careful when selecting amongst these companies as some are excellent and others lacking. 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 pretty common to find yourself climbing only with a Sherpa or even by yourself. The Sherpas may have attended a climbing school, like the Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC) which is excellent. Still, they 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 outstanding. Seven Summits Treks is another option at a lower cost, and many small one-person Nepali companies offer even lower prices. Look to pay between $35,000 and $45,000 for this option. This option is suitable for climbers with significant high altitude experience, including 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 climber throughout the route. IMG charge $49,500 for this model. Climbing The Seven Summits offers a similar program for $48,000. Both companies have increased their prices for 2022. IMG used to ask $40,000 only a few years ago but passed on increased fees and costs to their clients. Usually, this model depends on a highly experienced senior Sherpa, or Sidar, to make big decisions such as when to go for the summit or when to turn around. Also, there is often a Westerner overseeing the expedition in Base Camp, but not climbing.

An option is hiring a Personal Sherpa for an additional $5,000 to $10,000 plus 5% to 20% for tips and bonuses. These Sherpas have gained significant experience and training in dealing one-to-one with western members. Their English skills are usually excellent 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, strong climbing skills, but not for the novice. I used this model with IMG and Kami Sherpa in 2011 for my summit and was very pleased.

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 varies widely, ranging from $65K to $100K. The fee includes all the services of a Sherpa-guided climb plus sharing one or more western guides. If you want a personal western guide, expect to pay $120K or more, plus tips and bonuses adding up close to $175K.

The primary point of this approach is you are climbing close to a western guide who most likely has summited Everest several times. There is no language barrier, and they will have at minimum of Wilderness Medical Training (WMT) or better. The guide will make all the decisions about turnaround times, weather, and emergency management.

On these higher-end expeditions, you should have high-quality food ranging from better prepared to exotic. For example, 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, CTSS, Madison, etc.) almost always come with several western guides, and you never climb alone.

Top, Top End

Seven Summits Treks, which caters to the China market, has once again raised the luxury (and absurd) level with their new “VVIP Everest Expedition 2022” for the royalty price of $130,000. It includes:

  • Private Camp facilitating: luxurious dining, communication, and medical dome tent, workspace, sleeping tent with king-size bed, kitchen, hot shower, and toilet at basecamp. Also, private camp at each high camp.
  • AS350B3E airbus helicopter (Heli Everest ) will be on standby for supporting our team with supplying fresh – fruits, vegetables, meats, Mineral water for drinking, and other food items almost every day, and it’s also always ready for your safety at your needs (medical evacuation ).
  • One UIAGM certified Guide.
  • 2 hr Helicopter Mountain view flight around Mount Everest for filming and panoramic views of the Himalayan range
  • More than 3 times or equivalent 3 Everest Summiteer Sherpa.
  • 12 bottles supplementary Oxygen (02) cylinder.
  • 24 hr Personal mountain medical doctor for any injuries during the expedition.
  • Rescue Team of Sherpa at Camp II, for the emergency and rescue purpose.
  • 24 hr satellite phone and internet facilities.
  • Unlimited Internet
  • Additional Lobuche Peak Climbing Package inclusive.
  • A documentary movie of the entire trip with an additional photographer from the airport to the summit of Everest.

Another top-end option is from Austrian-based Furtenbach Adventures with their Signature EverestExpeditions. For $225,000 you add to their high-service standard trips:

  • Full support (including throughout the pre-expedition preparation phase)
  • Private mentoring from Lukas Furtenbach
  • Personalized training plan put together by a professional Sports Physiologist
  • Personalized nutrition plan and consultation with a certified High-Performance Sports Dietician
  • Pre-expedition medical consultation by a High-Altitude Doctor
  • Private IFMGA / AMGA mountain guide for the duration of the whole expedition
  • 2 personal Climbing Sherpas with a minimum of 5 Everest ascents to their name
  • Premium accommodation in Kathmandu/Chengdu and Lhasa
  •  80 m2 heated dome tent with private bathroom in basecamp
  • VIP transfers
  • Unlimited supplemental oxygen
  • Unlimited medical advice from the team doctor
  • Video footage and photographs of your expedition

And not to be left out is Climbing the Seven Summits high-end trip notion they call the Everest Executive Domes:

  • Powered with personal charging facilities, overhead lighting, and 2x heaters*
  • Windows with curtains to take in the epic views
  • A Queen sized bed with comforter & pillows
  • Table and chair to create a private workspace that allows professionals and business executives to productively use valuable downtime at base camp to continue to manage work obligations or to simply keep up with friends and family and update social media.
  • Raised, carpeted flooring to insulate from the glacier
  • Personal humidifier
  • Morning beverage service
  • Shoe rack
  • Single rooming throughout the expedition in Kathmandu & teahouses (Please note that tent accommodations at Lobuche high camp and above Everest base camp are double-occupancy for everyone for safety reasons)

Note that almost every foreign guide company offers multiple options today from Sherpa-guided/supported to Western guided to private climbs. Also, most companies now offer climbs just to Camp 2 or the North Col and not to the summit. Some are supplying oxygen and a person Sherpa for each climber.

Rapid Climbs

A relatively new option offered by many foreign guides and a few Nepali ones is the fast climb of two to four weeks. The primary market is people with can spend over $100,000 but need to be away from work for under a month. Alpenglow and Furtenbach have been the most aggressive with this model, but others offer it.

The rationale is that by minimizing your time on the mountain, you conserve energy and risk to illness. By using an altitude tent 30 days before leaving home, you arrive at base camp acclimatized to 17,000-feet. Thus you eliminate one or more acclimatization rotations thus increasing your chances of summiting. And of course, you can hurry back home and get back to work as soon as possible.

The package usually includes pre-acclimatizing in an altitude tent a month before leaving home, an IFMGA guide, virtually unlimited oxygen flowing op to 8 lpm in some cases, and plenty of Sherpa support. Unfortunately, all of this extra support drives the price up.

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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 20 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 five 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 CMA has a similar requirement. But like everything around Everest, there are exceptions, and most rules are never enforced.

What is the minimum I can spend to climb Everest?

As previously addressed, it is almost impossible to climb Everest entirely alone on the standard route. However, you can climb independently with no oxygen, Sherpa, or cook support but using ladders and ropes on the south side. For one person, this would cost at least $25,000 from Nepal or China. Even splitting group expenses, the base costs add up to $26,000 each for a seven-person team. When you add in oxygen and base camp support, a one-person climb with Sherpa support approaches $45,000, but a seven-person team leveraging the group costs comes in at $37,000.

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 relatively comfortably and not eat rice every meal for six weeks.

What is the difference between a $30K and a $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 the number of western guides. Also, how many services are bundled into one price versus offered as options. The lowest price outfits promote a low price and offer “options” such as oxygen, Sherpa support, or even food above base camp. One UK-based outfitter provides a low price for the north side but does not include oxygen, summit bonuses, or other options that almost everyone has at 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
  • Backup supplies (ropes, tents, oxygen bottles, etc.)
  • Medical facilities
  • Communications and profit
  • 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 is Sherpa’s bonuses. A low price service may not include a bonus, whereas another may. For instance, 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. The tips are in addition to the base price. But a different company includes these bonuses in their overall package. It is customary to tip your Sherpa and western guide, an additional amount in both cases.

Cure Alzheimer's Fund on EverestHow many people have summited Everest?

The Himalayan Database reports that through December 2021, there have been 10,656 summits (5,351 members and 5,305 hired) on Everest by all routes by 6,098 different people. 1,410 people, including 990 Sherpa, have summited multiple times for 4642 total summits. There have been 756 summits by women members.

The Nepal side is more popular with 7,023 summits than 3,633 summits from the Tibet side. 216 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen, about 2.1%. 35 climbers have traversed from one side to the other. About 62% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit. 621 climbers have summited from both Nepal and Tibet. 135 climbers have summited more than once in a single season, including 67 who summited within seven days of their first summit that season. 640 people have summited from both the Nepal and Tibet side.

305 people (186 westerners and 119 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to December 2021, about 3.5% of the summiteers. 86 died on the descending from summit bid or 28% of the total deaths. 13 women have died. The Nepal side has 195 deaths or 2.9%, a rate of 1.16. The Tibet side has 112 deaths or 3%, a rate of 1.08. Most bodies are still on the mountain but China has removed many from sight on their side. The top causes of death are avalanche (77), fall (71), altitude sickness (35), and exposure (26).

In 2021 there were 472 summits, all from the Nepal side and all used supplemental oxygen. There were 4 deaths. There were none from Tibet as it was closed.,

How Safe is Everest?

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 2021 with 9,571 summits and 135 deaths or 1.4%. However, three years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014, 14 in 2015, and 11 in 2019. The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting, and more people climbing with commercial operations.

Of the 8000 meter peaks, Everest has the highest absolute number of deaths at 305 but ranks near the bottom with a death rate of 0.9. Annapurna is the most deadly 8000er, with one death for about every four summits (72:365) or a 3.10 death rate. Cho Oyu is the safest, with 4,038 summits and 52 deaths or a death rate of 0.40, with Manaslu next at 0.82.

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

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

The comparison between sides is pretty simple. The north is colder, windier, dustier, 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 7,023 summits than the 3,633 summits from the Tibet side.

When choosing sides, keep in mind that as of 2022, China does not allow helicopter rescues on its side. However, that might change as they are building a massive Mountaineering Center at base camp to cater to tourists 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_245

It is rare to summit Everest without using supplemental oxygen; only 216 people ever have. Digging deep into the data reveals that of the 305 deaths, 167 were not using O’s when they perished, but this is a bit misleading because many of the deaths, 121 to be precise, were doing route preparation, primarily by Sherpas. Most would not have used Os because they were low on the mountain. A case in point was the 2014 ice serac release and 2015 earthquake that killed 31 people in all, and they were below Camp 1 and not using oxygen.

If we look at climbing in modern times, i.e., after 1990 to 2021, we can see that 133 members (not Sherpas) summited without supplemental oxygen, that 39 died, or 30%. This rate compares with the 5,132 members who summited with Os saw 133 die or 2.5%

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 some set up a website to sell t-shirts or ask for “donations” from strangers. Believe it or not, this 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 approach is how I funded 26 of my big climbs since starting at age 38.

The question of obtaining a sponsor often comes up. Unfortunately, getting sponsored by a large outdoor gear company is extremely difficult. People have more success with large corporations like insurance or banks. 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 to fund a climb. In my opinion, this is a poor practice to ask for donations to pay for a climb.

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 54% of all expeditions have put at least one member on the 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.

Today operators use the standard routes, so there are fewer unknowns. That, along with improved weather forecasting, extra supplemental oxygen, and generous Sherpa support, has made Everest one of the safest 8000-meter mountains and the most summited 8000er by a considerable margin.

Why Everest?

Let’s wrap up with why even climb Everest at all? It is trendy 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 price move 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, government officials to guide companies to guides, 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. Earn the right to climb Everest, don’t just expect money to be sufficient. Select a team that matches your experience, be smart, be humble and savor every moment.


Preparing for Everest is More than Training

summit coach

If 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, we 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 27 years of high altitude mountain experience and 30 years as a business executive. Please see our prices and services on the Summit Coach website.


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My Thoughts on Everest?

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, knowledgeable, 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

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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.

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