The headline for 2016 is that the high-end went higher and the low-end went lower. The price range for a standard climb, i.e. non-custom, ranges from $30,000 to $85,000. This is driven by low cost Nepali operators getting a foothold in the market and the traditional western operators adding more services to differentiate their product. In other words, climbing Everest has become a mature market just like cars or airplane flights.
How much you spend depends on the expedition style, level of support and which side of Everest you climb. A standard climb from Tibet (north side) should run around $32,000 and from Nepal (south side) $42,000.
A climb with one or more western guides from the south side will cost at least $60,000. If you want to go with one of the low cost Nepali companies with no frills and perhaps some dangerous shortcuts, it will cost about $30,000 from either side.
There are three ways to climb Everest: put together your own expedition, join a logistics only expedition or join a fully guided team.
Before talking about money, let’s acknowledge that the last two years have been deadly, devastating and disappointing for anyone involved with Everest. As I write this in late 2015, the rumors are that guides are seeing half their normal volume for spring 2016.
This is not surprising with almost 40 deaths in 2014 and 2015. The season came to an early stop both years with Sherpa strikes and earthquakes. Everest, from either side, is no longer a reliable climb.
Historically after a difficult year, Everest has seen record summits. But it appears climbers have had enough, not from the mountain and natural disasters but from the mismanagement of the mountain by the governments.
The Nepal Ministry of Tourism, even under new leadership, continues to send mixed messages to the climbing community – uncertainty around extending permits, crazy talk about reducing insurance for Sherpas, propaganda about making Everest safer with age limitations and climbing experience requirements. And China closed all of Tibet to climbing for 2015 after the April earthquakes.
The irony is that the Nepal needs tourism more than ever, but the government’s uneven handling of the new constitution inadvertently created a blockade of fuel, medicine and supplies that has discouraged tourism. They have failed to funnel billions of international aid to areas devastated by the earthquakes. And the Sherpas who are key to the Everest machine, are struggling to rebuild their homes, much less guide foreigners up a mountain.
2016 will be a milestone in the history of Everest climbing. I wish for a boring year with normal summits, few deaths and no drama.
Where does my Money Go?
There are four major components to any Everest climb regardless of climbing from Nepal or Tibet: travel,permits/insurance, supplies/gear and guides. The following discussion breaks down the expenses as if an individual wanted to climb without joining a team but almost no one does this as the numbers will show – it is just too expensive.
Travel $500 – $7,000
The travel costs are entirely dependent on where you live and how you like to travel. It can range from a few hundred dollars to over $7,000 to fly to Nepal. Most people use Airarabia, Thai, Turkish, Qatar, or China Eastern to reach Nepal.
Once in Kathmandu, you need to fly to Lukla or Lhasa to start the journey to base camp, so add in an additional few hundred dollars for this air fare.
From Lukla in Nepal, its takes about a week to trek to base camp, so there is food and lodging along the way for you and your support team. This can total between $400 to $1,000 per person again depending on your style and how many beers you have.
But not only do you have to get yourself to base camp but also all your gear – tents, food, oxygen, etc. Most people use porters and yaks costing at least $75 per day per load, so this usually totals several thousand dollars. Large operators will hire helicopters. On the Tibet side, you can save some money as you can drive all the way to base camp and this is included in your permit.
PERSONAL TRAVEL $2,425 – $6,325
- Airfare $1500 to $5000 depending on class and routing and excess baggage
- Transportation Kathmandu to Lukla $325 round trip per person
- Hotel and food in Kathmandu $300 to $700 depending on delays
- Nepal Visa $100
- Immunizations $200
Getting to EBC $3,990 – $4,550
- Yaks to and from Base Camp $150 per yak per day carrying 55kg, (4 yaks for 4 days minimum or $2400)
- Porters to and from Base Camp $75 per porter per day carrying 27kg (3 porters for 6 days minimum or $1350)
- Tea Houses and food on trek to EBC $20 – $100/person /day – 7 days $140 – $700
- Park Fee $100/team
Permits and Insurance $7,000 – $17,500
The permit cost is fixed at $11,000 per climber from Nepal and $7,000 from Tibet. In Nepal, the permit fee simply gives permission to climb, whereas in Argentina for Aconcagua or Alaska for Denali, the $800 or $365 permit, respectively, also covers helicopter evacuation, maintaining high altitude ranger camps, hiring seasonal staff, providing mountaineering information, and keeping the mountain environment clean
Nepal requires using a local company to organize your permit at a cost of $2,500 for the team, a refundable trash deposit of $4,000 for the team and a Liaison Officer . Welcome to the hidden costs no-one ever talks about!
Nepal implemented in 2013 a new rule that requires every foreign climber in Nepal to hire a local Sherpa Guide. While not enforced for every operator, it adds a minimum of $4,000 to the absolute lowest cost.
If you want to bring a Nepal Sherpa to climb with you in Tibet, budget an additional $3,000 for each Sherpa’s “work permit” as required by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) plus their salary.
Most guide companies will require at least evacuation insurance and most require medical coverage. One of the best investments you can make is to add trip cancellation to the policy. In both 2014 and 2015 when the Everest season ended early, those with trip cancellation/interruption coverage had 100% of their trip expenses reimbursed. Travelex is a popular choice. To save money, joining the American Alpine Club will provide $5,000 evacuation coverage through Global Rescue. But with all these policies you must follow their rules exactly or you will not be covered – and I mean exactly, one misstep and you are not covered.
Climbing Fees $16,650 – $21,650
- Nepalese Liaison Officer $2,500/team
- South Base Camp Medical support $100/person
- Permit $11,000 for each climber regardless of team size on South, $7,000 for Westerner, $3,000 for Nepali Sherpa on North
- Garbage and human waste deposit $4,000/team permit (refundable but not always)
- Icefall Doctors to fix route $2,500/team or $600 per climber
- Contribution to fixed ropes above Icefall $150/climber
- Weather forecast $0 to $1,000
- Puja $300
Insurance $400 – $2,500
- Evacuation $70 – $400
- Medical $500
- Cancellation $1,00
- Helicopter evacuation from EBC-South $5,000 – $20,000 depending on start and end locations (not available on north)
You will need to eat, stay warm and 97.3% of all Everest summiters used supplemental oxygen.
You can buy and cook your own food but most people use a Nepali cook at $5,000 for base camp and budget about $800 per person for food and fuel while climbing Everest over a six week period.
Supplemental oxygen runs about $550 per bottle with a minimum of 5 bottles totaling $2,750. But you will also need a mask at $450 and a regulator at $450. You can carry your own extra oxygen to the high camps, but most people use the Sherpas to cache them at the high camps. When hiring a personal Sherpa, the standard is for him to climb on oxygen, albeit at a lower flow rate, so this will run an additional $2,000.
Finally, you will need climbing gear including boots, down suit, clothing layers, gloves, sleeping bags, packs and more. This will cost at least $7,000 if you buy everything new. High altitude boots like from La Sportiva or Millet run $1,000, a full down suit from Feathered Friends or Mountain Hardwear is over $1,000 and a sleeping bag rated to -20F is at least $500.
Misc $11,650 – $16,400 – 36,400
- Medical kit $1,000
- Sherpas, cooks tips and bonus $250 – $2,000 per individual depending on performance and summit
- Personal Gear (down suit, high altitude boots, sleeping bags, etc): $7,000
- Satellite phone (own) $1,000 to $3,000 depending on usage
- gear allowance for Sherpas $2,000
EBC and High Camps $3,500 – $8,800
- Tents $3,000 new (sleeping, cooking, toilet, storage at 4 camps for 3 people)
- Cooks $5,000 per cook and assistant for 6 weeks
- Food and fuel $800 per person for 6 weeks
Climbing Support $3,990 – $12,430
- Oxygen $550/bottle (5 bottles) $2,750 (doesn’t include costs to take to high camps)
- Oxygen Mask (Summit Oxygen) $450
- Oxygen Regulator $450
- Climbing Sherpa $5,000 per Personal Sherpa with oxygen at $2,000
Logistics (guide) $20,000 – $80,000 (not including permit)
For decades, western operators like Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents (AAI), Jagged Globe, Himalayan Experience (Himex), International Mountain Guides (IMG) and others have guided hundreds to the top of Everest for prices ranging from $40,000 to $65,000, all inclusive.
But that is changing. In 2016 there is intense competition from Nepali owned and operated companies. With many Sherpas having ten or more summits of Everest, they are advertising themselves as Everest Guides and eliminating the traditional Western Guide who would be paid between $10,000 and $25,000 and this cost is passed on to the clients.
This, along with sometimes paying less than market wages to Sherpas, cooks and porters, the Nepali operators offer climbs are half to a third of traditional western operators. In 2014, Seven Summits Treks, reportedly offered their Everest expedition for as low as $18,000 per climber. For 2016, they are offering a climb from Nepal at $30,000.
If you want every perk and luxury you can image on a Himalayan peak in 2016, Alpenglow unapologetically offers a climb from the Tibet side for an astonishing $85,000 per climber, twice to three times the average price on the north side.
The average price of the companies I surveyed for 2016 looks to be about $42,000 for a Sherpa Guided climb from the south and $60,000 with Western Guides. The average from the north is $32,000 with Sherpas/Tibetans only.
If you want to go with one of the low cost Nepali companies, it will run about $30,000 from either side. For your own personal Western Guide, International Mountain Guides will set you up for $114,000.
With all this as background, I used public websites and my own research to compile the 2016 Everest fees from the major Everest guide companies. Also I looked back at their 2013 summit rates and historical numbers where available. In 2014, there were no commercial summits from the south and about 100 from the north. In 2015 there were no summits from either side. This is not a complete list of all guides and I did not look at small one person operations or those who do not run climbs each year for more than one or two clients.
|COMPANY||Typical Team Size||SOUTH w Sherpa Guide*||SOUTH w Western Guide*
||NORTH||2013 Summit Success(few north summits in 2014, none in 2015)|
|Average Nepal Company Price||$32,000||N/A||$28,500|
|Adventure Consultants||8-12||N/A||$65,000||N/A||2013: 7 of 10 clients, 5 guides, 21 Sherpas257 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1990|
|Adventure Peaks||10-12||$50,879||N/A||$35,879||2013: 4 of 8|
|Altitude Junkies||8-12||$47,000||N/A||N/A||2013 (n): 3 of 9 clients, 1 leader, 7 Sherpas|
|AlpenGlow||4-8||N/A||N/A||$85,000||2013: 1 of 2 clients, 1 guide, 4 Sherpas|
|Alpine Ascents International||8-16||N/A||$65,000||N/A||2013: 13 of 16 clients, 3 guides, 21 Sherpas, 264 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1992. 75% success from 2004|
|Arnold Coster||4-8||$34,500||$50,000||N/A||no information available|
|Benegas Brothers/Mountain Madness||9-12||N/A||$65,000||N/A||no information available|
|Furtenbach Adventures||4-6||$45,000||$33,000||2016 is first season on Everest|
|Himalayan Experience (Himex)||20-30||N/A||$70,000||N/A||2013: 12 of 12 clients summited, 2 of 2 guides, 12 Sherpas, 364 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1994, 0 – 96% success|
|High Adventure Expeditions||4-8||$44,000||N/A||N/A||no information available|
|International Mountain Guides||12-20||$44,000||$59,000||N/A||2013: 16 of 31 clients, 4 guides, 24 Sherpas (2 pushes) est., 381 total summits (clients, Sherpas, guides) since 1991. 66% from 2006|
|Jagged Globe||8-12||N/A||$59,000||N/A||2013: 10 of 10 clients, 3 guides, 11 Sherpas|
|Kobler & Partner||8-12||N/A||$52,400||N/A||no information available|
|Madison Mountaineering||8-12||N/A||$58,500||N/A||no information available|
|Mountain Trip||4-8||N/A||$65,000||N/A||2013: 1 of 4 clients, 0 guide, 4 Sherpas|
|Mountain Madness/Benegas Brothers||4-8||N/A||$67,000||N/A||no information available|
|RMI||4-10||N/A||$74,000||N/A||2013: 0 of 3 clients, 2 guides, 3 Sherpas|
|Peak Freaks||8-15||$49,500||N/A||N/A||2013: 4 of 8 clients, 2 guides, 8 Sherpas.|
|7 Summits Club||20||N/A||$58,370||$58,370||2013: 9 of 13 clients, 1 guide, 9 Sherpas|
|Summit Climb||5-20||$36,500||N/A||$28,450||2013: 12 of 12 South and 11 of 14 clients north, 213 total summits both n and s (clients, Sherpas, guides)|
|Nepal Guide Companies|
|Asian Trekking||20||$39,000 est||N/A||$29,070 est||2013 (s):14 of 26 clients, 21 Sherpas, 2013 (n): 5 of 5 clients, 4 Sherpas, 310 total summits (clients, Sherpas) since 2003.|
|Dreamers Destinations||8-12||$36,000||N/A||$31,500||no information available|
|Seven Summits Treks||30-50||$30,500||N/A||$28,000||no information available|
N/A = not offered, * full logistics support, gear, food, Personal Sherpa, oxygen, mask and regulator
Hope this was a usefull info from Alan Arnette!