Mount Everest climb Cost
Getting to the top of the world isn’t easy — or cheap.
Running, daily workouts at the gym, rock climbing, bigger alpine climbs — they all figure into the mix. Climbers dream of the adventure, the challenge ... that final step that will take them to the place that rises above all others.
For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime goal. But beneath all of that passion and hard work lie real-world expenses and time commitments.
Call it the business of conquering Everest.
The cost of an Everest trek
“Our clients are typically people with disposable incomes and time, ” said Mark Gunlogson, president and owner of Mountain Madness, a Seattle-based mountaineering and trekking company. “Our trip to Everest is $67, 000, and it takes two months of time from work — so it’s two months away from work, family and friends.”
Alpine Ascents International, another mountaineering company in Seattle, charges $65, 000 per client for an Everest trek.
Both companies use porters and yaks at the lower elevations to ferry needed equipment up to base camp. From there, sherpas are used as guides and to help carry needed supplies up to higher camps in preparation for a summit attempt.
All of this costs money, but the expenses don’t end there.
The specialized equipment that’s needed to summit the 29, 035-foot peak is crucial. The list is long, but some of the main components include a backpack, sleeping bag, trekking poles, an oxygen tank for breathing at extreme elevations, and crampons — a metal plate with spikes fixed to a boot for walking on ice or rock climbing.
And then there’s the clothing. That list includes a down insulated jacket, insulated pants, hiking boots, fleece gloves, a wool or fleece hat and sunglasses — one pair for lower elevations and another pair for higher up.
“All of that could be another $5, 000 to $10, 000 if you were starting from nothing, ” Gunlogson said.
Climbing experience is required
But Mountain Madness clients are never starting from scratch. Gunlogson said no one becomes part of an Everest trek without previous mountaineering experience.
“Maybe they’ve climbed Denali or they’ve been to some of the Himalayan peaks, ” he said. “We want our clients to know what they’re getting into.”
And that could be a lot.
What happens when things go south
The newly released film, “Everest” details how bad it can get when things go wrong. The movie recounts the 1996 disaster that occurred when a blizzard swept in and trapped climbers high up on the mountain.
Some were ill equipped to deal with the situation.
Eight people died as a result, including expedition leader Scott Fischer, who co-founded Mountain Madness. Beck Weathers, whose expedition leader Rob Hall also died, lost his nose, part of his right arm, the fingers on his left hand and parts of both feet to frostbite.
That would seemingly be enough to make anyone wish they’d never been to Everest. But in a 2000 interview with CNN, Weathers revealed the hard-wired passion that is so ingrained among climbers.
“If I knew everything that was going to happen to me, knew fully the outcome, I still would have gone, ” he said. “I gained so much more than what I lost.”
Weathers still works as a pathologist at Medical City Dallas hospital in Texas and has often appeared at events as a speaker, recounting his Everest experience.
Last year’s Everest season was far worse when 16 sherpas were killed as a massive avalanche careened down the mountain side.
Risks of climbing Everest are inherent
“There is an inherent risk to all aspects of climbing, whether it’s alpine climbing or traveling across a glacier with crevasses, ” he said. “I’ve had some friends die scrambling on a rope. I was climbing Mount Rainier and Mount Baker in 2002 when a friend died while climbing a popular peak in Peru. That’s an area that is known to be dangerous because of avalanches.”
Everest is a big commitment, both mentally and financially, White said.
“You have to have a lot of money and a lot of freedom from your job, ” he said. “And there’s no guarantee you’ll get to the summit. Some people go back two or three times.”
Perspective from an Everest climber
Adrian Ballinger, owner and founder of Alpenglow Expeditions in Olympic Valley, has summited Everest six times, and he’s applied the lessons he learned there to the business world.
One of his key pieces of advice addresses risk taking.
“When scaling a mountain peak, you’ll find it’s best to keep the risk taking to a minimum — and take them only to avoid unexpected circumstances that might impact the ultimate success or safety of the climb, ” the Squaw Valley climber/entrepreneur said. “In business, stick with your primary project plan and contingencies. Don’t let risk taking be a shortcut to achieving the goal. Save it until you need to and make sure the risks don’t outweigh the ultimate achievement.”
On Wednesday, Ballinger spoke of the lure of Everest while perched high on the flanks of Makalu, a neighboring summit that rises 27, 766 into the air. Two members of Ballinger’s climbing team will attempt to summit Makalu without the use of supplemental oxygen.
And perhaps more harrowing, Ballinger and three team members will attempt the first ski descent from the summit.
“There are mountains with harder, more technical routes than Everest but they are not as tall, ” Ballinger said. “Getting to the summit of Everest is a huge life project. The challenges are there and when you see clients work to their absolute limit, physically, mentally and emotionally ... I find that incredibly powerful.”
The “Everest” film details how quickly things can go wrong when people are ill prepared and bad decisions are made. Gordon Janow, director of programs for Alpine Ascents, said climbers who attempt an Everest trek must be ready for anything.
“Every season brings something different, ” he said. “When you’re on Everest it’s not like driving from Point A to Point B where the weather is the same every time. You have to have enough skills and qualifications to deal with adverse conditions.”