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Can anyone climb Mount Everest?

everestMelissa T. asks: What is the process involved with climbing Mount Everest? Do you need a permit or something or can anyone just try and climb it if they want to try it?

Standing at a foreboding 8, 848 metres (or 29, 029 feet) high, Mount Everest is recognised as the Earth’s highest mountain. While Everest isn’t generally considered to be the most difficult peak to climb (that honor probably belongs to either Annapurna in Nepal or K2 on the China/Pakistan border), it is the most famous and, as such, sees the most people attempting to scale it each year. But can anyone just show up and start trekking up the mountain? In a word- no.

green_bootsThe first thing you’ll need is to be over 16 on the Nepali side and over 18 on the Tibetan side.

The second thing you’ll need if you want to climb Everest is money- a lot of it. The exact cost of climbing the mountain varies wildly depending on a number of factors including from which side of the mountain you want to start, how many people you’re attempting to climb with, and what you’re looking for in terms of support.

A bargain basement cost a non-native could theoretically get away with would be in the range of $20, 000-$25, 000. A more realistic price tag would be closer to $40, 000-$60, 000 from the Nepal side and about $30, 000-$40, 000 from Tibet. This covers things like Sherpa guide fees, oxygen bottles (which cost about $500-ish a bottle with a minimum of about 5-6 needed by most), gear, supplies, travel, performance enhancing drugs (about two-thirds of climbers use these according to Dr. Luanne Freer, founder of the “Everest ER”), etc.

If you really wanted to skimp, you could get away with not using extra oxygen, but this isn’t recommended as about 40% of the people who die in the attempt at climbing Everest do so trying to do it without oxygen tanks. This is despite the fact that only about 3% of all climbers make the attempt without extra oxygen. Further, such an attempt will likely result in, at minimum, a small amount of brain damage.

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