Towering approximately 29,032 feet over the Himalayas (and growing every year), Mount Everest is well-known as the world’s tallest mountain. Okay, so technically, it’s only the tallest mountain fully above sea level, but that’s good enough, right? No need to split hairs. Since the first successful ascent by Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, Everest has become a litmus test for true athletic endeavor. Jagged peaks, breathtaking (literally) high altitude, and technical climbing have seen off many would-be summiteers who have set their sights on the top of the world.
To date, a little over six-thousand mountaineers have reached this pinnacle of mountaineering with more than 11,000 total summits between them because, evidently, once isn’t enough for some people. Plenty of climbers set their sights on Everest. It’s a true bucket-list adventure, after all. It takes years of physical conditioning and technical know-how to reach the top, even with the assistance of a team of sherpas to help you. And then there’s the financial outlay. Permits, air transportation, gear, oxygen, ground transport, food, time off from work — it all racks up pretty quickly. Whether you’re thinking of heading there yourself or you’re just curious as to how much these daredevil athletes shell out for their trip, here’s our guide to the actual all-in cost of summiting Mount Everest.
What’s the total cost of climbing Mount Everest?
In 2019, The Manual interviewed mountaineer Alan Arnette and mountaineer/guide Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering to find out just how expensive it is to climb the world’s highest peak.
According to Alan, “The average price paid in 2017 [was] around $45,000. 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.” Keep in mind the final cost varies widely because every climber’s needs are different. “Typically, this includes transportation from Kathmandu or Lhasa, food, base camp tents, Sherpa support, and supplemental oxygen. But with such a wide range, there are many caveats, such as a personal Sherpa, Western guides, tips, food, and tents on the upper mountain.”
While the cost of climbing Everest ranged between $28,000 to $120,000 in 2017, the prices have continued to skyrocket. Taking a trek up Everest in 2023 will cost you anywhere from $30,000 to $160,000, with the average falling somewhere around $50,000.
You might be wondering: Why such a big range in price? Well, there are plenty of ways to customize your hike up Mount Everest, and the price you pay will largely depend on how much you’re willing to dish out for related costs, such as support, transportation, food, and gear.
Cost of support
One of the biggest costs associated with climbing Mount Everest is support. Everest isn’t your everyday hike. It takes grueling training and preparation to even attempt to summit the mountain, let alone attempt it without support. For this reason, the overwhelming majority of climbers invest in support services.
How much does support for climbing Everest cost? Well, that depends on how comprehensive you want that support to be. If you are looking to go the “full service” route, you can expect to pay at least $45,000 and up to $160,000.
When it comes to climbing assistance, Sherpas are a key part of almost every Everest expedition. Sherpas are extremely hard-working Tibetan people that live on the slopes of the Himalayas and assist Everest climbers with various tasks, including cooking, carrying gear, and making crucial decisions. While hiring a Sherpa is not required for climbing Mount Everest, it can help increase the odds of reaching the summit — and it’s a service that many decide is well worth the investment.
How much does a Sherpa for climbing Mount Everest cost? A personal climbing Sherpa will cost anywhere upwards of $5,000, while a Sherpa for loading and unloading starts at $3,000, and a Sherpa providing cooking services starts at $2,000. Keep in mind climbers are expected to cover bonuses and tip Sherpas generously, too. Obviously, this is one area you don’t want to cheap out.
Cost of food and transportation
The cost of travel is another part of a Mount Everest trek that varies greatly, depending on the climber. There are many variable costs when it comes to transportation. The cost of your flight, for example, will vary depending on where in the world you’re flying from, which airline you choose, and other flight-specific costs.
The transportation costs don’t end once you arrived, however. The week-long trek to base camp alone will cost you at least $4,000.
When it comes to food on Mount Everest, you can expect to spend $20-$30 per day.
Cost of permits
Permits are one of the biggest expenses of climbing Mount Everest, and they’re a cost you simply can’t avoid. There are, however, two different ways to approach Everest, with two different prices: the Northside in Tibet and the Southside in Nepal. The permit in Nepal costs $11,000 (plus $2,500 to hire a local company to organize the permit), plus a $4,000 (refundable) trash permit, $2,500 for a local Nepalese team to organize your permit, and a final $3,000 per team for a Group Liason Officier. So just getting the proper paperwork in order costs close to twenty grand, and that’s before all of your other preparations.
From the Tibetan side, China recently eliminated the relatively more affordable solo climber option. Everest hopefuls must now travel in groups of four or more. Permitting costs now run between $15,800 and $18,000 per person in a group. That fee does include some things, however, like ground transport, yak support, trash fees, hotels, and liaison officer fees.
While the permit prices for Everest are not cheap and might make you think twice about a climb, they’re in place for good reason. Every year, the number of Everest hopefuls continues to rise, often at the expense of the experience, quality of life for locals, and the environment. Pricey permits help to mitigate these downfalls by putting much-needed monetary resources toward protecting the environment, cultural heritage, and livelihood of locals.
Cost of gear and equipment
Planning a trip to Everest? You’ll need to invest in essential gear. If you want to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, you can expect to spend between $6,000 – $8,000 on gear, depending on what you need to purchase and the quality of the items.
What specific gear do you need to climb Mount Everest? You’ll need climbing gear, of course, like crampons, an ice ax, and a belay; technical clothing, including a down coat, a good mix of base layers, and hiking/trekking pants; and camp equipment, including a sleeping bag, an extreme-weather tent, and a thermos.
While the gear list is both extensive and expensive, the good news is, you can start with what you already have before investing in new items. If you’re already an amateur outdoorsman, chances are you already have the basics, like base layers, good hiking socks, moisture-wicking t-shirts, and a windbreaker. Starting with these items is a big help considering the entire list is pretty extensive. You can find a thorough Everest packing list here, provided by Madison Mountaineering.
Cost of bottled oxygen
The need for oxygen is just another reminder that Everest is not your everyday hike. An essential item on any Everest packing list, supplemental oxygen is also one of the most expensive. While summiting Everest without oxygen is possible, it includes severe risks like extreme hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
The average Everest climber will use five to six oxygen bottles, each costing nearly $600. Climbers also need an oxygen mask and regulator, which cost another $600. Keep in mind, climbers are also required to supply oxygen for their Sherpa, if they’re hiring one.
Preparing for Everest
The financial cost of climbing Mount Everest is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re seriously considering checking out the view from 29,032 feet, you should also prepare for the immense physical and mental costs. Your regimen leading up to your Everest trek will include rigorous workouts, breathing exercises, visualization practices, and lessons on overcoming negative self-talk.
Sky-high costs aside, climbing Mount Everest will undoubtedly challenge you and leave you feeling on top of the world (literally). Many climbers who have achieved this incredible feat assert the feeling as indescribable, but one word seems to sum up the experience best: Priceless.
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