At 8848 meters (29,029 ft) in height, Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain on the planet, and an incredibly popular mountaineering destination. Attempting to climb the mountai…n requires a significant commitment both in terms of time and money. An expedition to summit Everest requires roughly two months to complete, and costs thousands of dollars. Just how much does it cost to climb Everest? Here's a breakdown of the expenses.
(All numbers and statistics credited to [Alan Arnette](http://www.alanarnette.com) who makes an annual survey of the costs of climbing Everest)
Before we start looking at the various expenses associated with climbing Everest, it is important to understand the two routes that most mountaineers take on their way to the summit. Since the mountain sits on the border of Nepal and Tibet, climbers can choose to approach the mountain from the South Col Route (Nepal) or the North Ridge (Tibet). Both routes offer their own unique challenges and dangers, with neither side being particularly easier or more difficult than the other. However, climbing from the North Side often requires dealing with the Chinese officials that govern Tibet, which has brought a level of uncertainty and mismanagement with it in the past. Which route a climber chooses ultimately comes to down personal preference however, although generally speaking the North Side is less expensive and less crowded, although it is also a bit less developed and refined too.
Before a climber can ever set foot on the mountain, they must first obtain a climbing permit. While it is possible to receive such a permit on your own, most mountaineers will join a team of other climbers to help share expenses, distribute the work, and serve as companions on the long and difficult climb. All the members of a climbing team are usually on the same permit, which grants them permission to be on Everest, and climb, together.
The cost of a permit for the South Col Route in Nepal is $11,000 per person, while on the North Ridge the price is $7000 per climber. This cost is usually included in the price of a guide service such as [Himalayan Experience](http://himalayanexperience.com) or [Altitude Junkies](http://www.altitudejunkies.com), although it is possible to purchase a permit and climb completely independently as well.
Just getting to Base Camp to start the climb can be an expensive endeavor. Flights to Nepal, followed by overland travel to BC on foot on the South Side, or by truck on the North, takes time and money. Transporting all of the gear necessary for a climb often requires the hiring of porters or yaks, and it may be necessary to spend time in Kathmandu prior to departure as well. That means purchasing food and hotel accommodations too. Add an entry Visa ($100), immunizations, and various other minor expenses, and the expedition can become very expensive before a climber even sets foot on the mountain.
As a result of all of these expenses, a person looking to climb Everest may spend as much as $8000 just getting to Base Camp to start the climb.
In addition to permits and transportation to the mountain, there are a variety of other expenses that come along with climbing Everest. For instance, each team must pay a mandatory fee of $2500 to their liaison officer, who accompanies them to Base Camp. Additionally, there are medical support fees ($100/person), contribution to purchasing shared ropes ($100/climber), and a $300 fee for the traditional Puja ceremony during which a Buddhist monk blesses the climbers, and asks permission from the mountain to allow them safe passage to the summit.
But that isn't all. Nepal now charges a garbage/human waste fee of $4000/permit, which is refundable at the end of the expedition provided teams pack all of their trash out with them when they leave. If climbing from the South Side, there is also a $500 fee per climber that goes towards paying the Icefall Doctors, a special team of Sherpas who fix the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall. Some teams will even pay as much as $1000 for weather forecasts that will keep them abreast of conditions and help them plan the best time to make their summit push.
Most Everest climbers who are part of a team receive logistical support from Sherpas on the mountain, as well as Base Camp staff that keep them comfortable and well fed too. An experienced Base Camp cook will run about $5000 for a six-week period alone, while personal climbing Sherpas will cost an additional $5000 per climber. Add in the cost of tents, food, fuel, and other items, and the price increases by about another $4000 as well.
The vast majority of mountaineers also use supplemental oxygen when climbing above 8000 meters (26,000 feet). That oxygen costs roughly $500 per bottle, with most climbers requiring five bottles on their summit push. An oxygen mask and regulator will add about another $1000 to the expenses as well.
As you can imagine, climbing Everest also requires each person to bring a great deal of gear with them. That gear includes such items as a down suit, sleeping bags built for the extreme cold, high altitude mountaineering boots, and a wide variety of other equipment. The gear alone for a major mountaineering expedition can run an additional $7000-$8000, although the price can vary greatly depending on brands, specific models, special discounts, and so on.
As usual when purchasing outdoor gear, it is important to find items that are designed to perform at a high level in the proper environments. Going cut-rate is usually not the best approach when buying the important items you'll need to survive on a mountain like Everest. That said however, most of that gear will last through many expeditions, and this is a one time expense that can be used on more adventures than just a single climb.
In the above categories we've have taken a look at some of the major expenses that are incurred with any expedition to Everest, but there are other factors that need to be considered too, including medical insurance, emergency evacuation plans, tips for support staff, and so on. When added altogether, these expenses can add up significantly, sending the price of a guided expedition into the tens of thousands of dollars.
So, just how much does such an expedition cost? The answer to that isn't all that simple. The cost can vary greatly depending on the route taken to the summit, and the commercial guide service that is hired. The average cost of a climb from the South Side in Nepal is roughly $57,000, while on the North Side (Tibet) it is closer to $46,000. The difference in those costs mainly comes down to the price of the permit and the salaries of the support staff. Eschewing western guides in favor of local guides can also bring the price down to a degree as well. In the case of the South Side that equates to a potential saving of more than $15,000, although it comes at the expense of experience, training, and potentially communication.
Independent climbers could get that price of an Everest expedition down to as low as $25,000, but in doing so they are giving up a lot of logistical support and cutting some corners in the process. Those climbers also have to be incredibly experienced and skilled to be able to make a climb completely on their own. In short, it is possible and is done every year, but only be the best alpinists in the world.