Climbing Mount Everest costs over $65,000 when climbing with a commercial guiding company. The cost of your expedition is high due to the amenities offered and the popularity of the climb.
We’ve answered this question before on Quora, and we thought it would be a good idea to do it here as well. The fact is that an expedition on Mount Everest is expensive on its own. But when you are planning on climbing with a commercial guiding company, that cost can skyrocket to over $65,0000.
What’s Included In The Cost
Overall, you have to remember what it is you’re paying for. A commercial guiding company will plan the expedition for you, and you’ll be experiencing the climb as part of a group.
Included in the cost are the expensive climbing permits required by Nepal, which can reach in excess of $11,000.
Also, included in the price for your expedition are things many people tend to forget in the heat of climbing ambitions. Although your goal is getting to the summit, you can’t forget everything that is required to make this possible.
Part of your expedition payment covers food, three meals a day to be exact. Encompassing these are the ingredients used to cook meals, the cost of transporting them to the mountain, fuel for the stoves and the labor for cooking. Usually, the cooking is done by a Sherpa guide.
Before you even get to Mount Everest, though, if you’re with a quality guiding company, they will also cover the cost of your meals at restaurants and cafés getting to and from Everest.
Much of the success of western climbers achieving the summit of Everest is due to the incredible Sherpa support they receive from the locals. Nepal is home to a race of people called Sherpas, who are naturally highly adapted to high altitudes. Some of the most incredible climbers in the world are Sherpas, including the great Pemba Gyalje Sherpa and the legendary Ang Dorje.
As part of your expedition cost, your commercial guiding company will provide the Sherpa support needed for the climb. Sherpas are often responsible for helping to guide clients to the summit, meal preparations, fixed-line duty and more. Sherpas also transport gear up and down the mountain, while clients are acclimatizing.
This support also includes porters, who are locals that are hired to transport gear from the villages to Everest Base Camp. High-altitude porters are hired to transport gear from Everest Base Camp to designated camps.
Oxygen and Gear
Most climbers who use the services of commercial expedition companies will also use oxygen for their climb. Your guiding company provides this oxygen and will instruct you on how to use their specific tanks and distribution masks.
While you will be responsible for providing your own personal gear, like your down suit, harness, crampons, sleeping bags and gloves, the guiding company will provide other essential gear. For example, ladders are used to navigate the Khumbu Icefall, a treacherous part of the climb that presents the very first dangerous challenge. Sherpas will set up the ladders and rope here, as the ice continues to move throughout the day.
They will also provide the rope required for fixed lines as you travel up the mountain.
Most commercial guiding companies will also include lodging in the cost of their expedition. This specifically refers to lodging to and from the airport in Kathmandu. After landing, you will have to travel through several villages before getting to Mount Everest, like Lukla, Namche Bazaar and Lobuche.
Here, you’ll have to stay in one of many hotels, like Hotel Everest View, before continuing the journey toward Everest. Payments for nightly stays are paid for by your expedition company from the cost of your expedition booking. This applies to lodgings to and from Mount Everest.
What’s Not Included in the Cost
Yes, you are paying $65,000 to climb a mountain, but not everything will be included in that price tag.
Airfare to and From Kathmandu
Even if you want to climb commercially, you will still have to get to Nepal before you can join your team. Members will be coming from all over the world, so it’s really not practical for a commercial guiding company to pay for global airline tickets. You will have to book and pay for your own airfare to and from Kathmandu, Nepal.
Many good guiding companies will pick you up at the airport, though.
If you have other gear you will be shipping to Nepal, you will be responsible for paying for its postage to and from the city of destination. Some climbers prefer not to travel with bulky gear like down suits.
Just as it sounds, there is no running water on Everest. If you want to take baths while on the mountain, you will have to pay for your own water and the cost of having it transported to your camp.
There is no Guarantee to the Summit
Before anything else, you have to understand that although you are paying in excess of $65,000 for a chance at Mount Everest, this is not a guarantee that you will make it to the summit. No guiding company can guarantee you this.
Essentially, a commercial guiding company will do its best to ensure that you make it to the summit of Mount Everest safely. They will provide you with support, guiding services and some essential training on how to properly manage certain maneuvers, as well as some quick guidance on high altitude sickness and dangers on Mount Everest.
However, there is no guarantee that you will summit, and there is no guarantee that you will return safely from Mount Everest.
This is a wild environment and there is always the possibility of death or serious injury on Mount Everest, as was the case for Beck Weathers during the 1996 Everest Disaster. He survived a tragedy but lost his nose and hands to frostbite.
Since its first ascent in 1953 by Hillary and Norgay, over 300 climbers have died on Everest, including an American doctor in 2017.
Your Responsibilities When Climbing With a Commercial Guiding Company
Any mountaineering expedition is a risk. It’s an even bigger risk on the highest mountain in the world. You will be responsible for your conduct and behavior while on a commercial guiding expedition, which includes courteous behavior toward your fellow climbing team members, the Sherpas supporting your climb and your commercial guides and team leaders.
Remember, just because you paid $65,000 does not mean you can treat the guides or Sherpas like servants.
Listening is also a big issue. If you want to stay safe and stay on the team’s expedition, you have to listen to your expedition leaders and guides at all times. If they tell you that its time to turn around or that a summit attempt isn’t viable, do as they instruct you to do. Don’t argue about the price you paid and try to summit by yourself anyway. This can get you kicked off the team, or worse, killed.
This was one of the sources of controversy surrounding the death of Michael Matthews, as documented in the documentary Lost in Everest’s Death Zone.
While there were many aspects that led to this tragedy, his refusal to listen to his expedition guides and descend at the time they told him to, ultimately led to an unfortunate series of issues that caused his eventual death. More context on this can be found below starting from minute 19:00.
If you defer from a recommended course of action, a commercial guiding expedition company can leave you behind. If that happens, you will have forfeited the amenities you paid for as part of your commercial guiding package. From that point forward, you will be on your own.
Can you climb Mount Everest for less than $65,000?
In short, yes, you can climb Mount Everest for less than the average $65,000 it costs to climb with a guiding company. You will be paying mostly for your permits, oxygen, and possibly porter transport if you are traveling with a lot of food and gear.
Now, one thing to be aware of when doing this is that you should have a significant amount of high-altitude climbing experience to climb alone or as part of a small private team. You will have to have your own rope and gear. The risks can be death if climbing ill-prepared or unknowledgeable about practices and techniques. Even for experienced climbers, going it alone is dangerous.
As an example, in 2006, David Sharp set out to climb Mount Everest alone. He paid the expedition organizer, Asian Trekking, a minimal cost for a no-service climb that covered his permits, and he set out to climb Everest alone. He chose the coldest day of the season and to descend in the dark, without radio communication.
The combination of choices proved to be deadly and he died of exposure and exhaustion on the N.E. Ridge in Green Boots Cave. The documentary Dying for Everest (stream on Amazon Video) covers more on this starting at minute 21:50.
The Controversy of Commercial Expeditions
There’s no way to address this article without talking about the controversy surrounding commercial climbing expeditions. For the most part, they are responsible for overcrowding on the mountain.
In 2019, there were over 1,000 people on Mount Everest, which includes the climbers, team leaders, Sherpas and other support people. There were approximately 891 summits in 2019, most of which were all climbing on the same day.
This kind of overcrowding leads to bottlenecks and overexposure to high altitudes and the elements while everyone waits for their turn at the summit. It can be a recipe for disaster, and as said by Dutch climber Wilco Van Roojien, the more people you have on a mountain, the bigger the possibility that a fatal mistake will be made somewhere in the chain.
The sheer number of people who want to climb this mountain also accounts for the price tag associated with a commercial expedition here. Spaces are limited, and money needs to be made.
But, unless climbers are willing to forego their turn at an expedition on Everest, or Nepal reduces the number of permits it awards, this is an inevitable issue. If you’re wanting to climb Mount Everest and you have limited experience, or no climbing partners, and you want the kind of support that comes with a commercial guiding expedition, this is the price you’ll have to pay.
Can I skip paying the Mount Everest permit fees?
No, you cannot skip paying the permit fees required to climb Mount Everest. Doing so can get you booted from the mountain, incarcerated, fined and possibly banned from climbing.
This happened to Ryan Sean Davy after he set out to climb Mount Everest and realized he didn’t have enough money to purchase all the necessary permits. He was caught by authorities on the mountain, jailed and fined $22,000. He was later released but banned from climbing any mountains in Nepal for 10 years.
Janusz Adamski was also fined and banned from climbing after he summited Everest from the Tibetan side and illegally descended via the Nepalese south side. His traverse even resulted in Tibet revoking climbing permits from future climbers and closing its borders for a year.
Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to climb based on your experience. Although we have no affiliations with them, we’ve always recommended New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants for guiding expeditions. The team provides you with everything you need for your climb and goes above and beyond to make sure you experience the trip fully.