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How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Everest? (alanarnette.com)
257 points by nwrk on May 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 128 comments



A most excellent article.

I was based in the Kathmandu AP office for over two years. Every week during climbing season I heard of the fatalities on the mountain. I understand why people attempt it, the varying reasons are immense from personal lifetime goals to fundraising to pure ego.

Many attempt it on the cheap with poor training and physical fitness. Remember that altitude sickness and frostbite is a great leveler of people regardless of your race, financial status or intelligence. It can strike anyone at anytime.

Say goodbye to your loved ones and ensure your estate is in order before you do this trek, there is a huge chance that you might never see your family ever again.

By the way, I'm heading to base camp in two years and have an apartment that I rent out in Patan if anyone is coming for a short trip over. Though the startup scene is small in Kathmandu, we exist...


> fundraising

I've never seen the point of behind giving someone money "for charity" to do something they can't afford on their own. It's all about them and not the charity.


Usually when I see people do that kind of thing the money raised is a side effort and all going to charity. They're doing the event (climbing, running, etc.) anyway, not using the donations to fund the event. I'm not saying it doesn't happen where people use the donations to fund their event but it's not something I see very often and I don't understand why anyone would donate to it.


In my opinion, this is the way to go: all the funds go to the org. or don't fund raise.

Fundraising for yourself is a little strange, even if you use, "part" of the money raised to donate to a charity. Technically, the money you collect is taxed, which is a big chunk of what you've raised. You would need to start a non-profit for this to be 100% kosher IMHO, but even then, I've caught "organizations" that just say they're a non-profit or are, "waiting non-profit status" and it turns out to be a big scam. It really irks me, as it casts a bad shade on people doing it the right way. Just sell something to raise the funds - anything: stickers, a t-shirt, a dinner date, and drop the whole charade. Using a platform like Go Fund Me sounds fine with me, as long as you're giving everyone deliverables. There's too big of a chance that you won't put on the trip altogether, and it's tough luck for your backers.

Saying that, I have done something similar - partially funded a trip and gave some to another org, but it was for a local needle exchange organization, which operated in a major grey area as what they were doing wasn't legal, but was done with the knowledge of the local police. Since then, needle exchange has become legal. The experience was rough - fundraising is just another way to employ yourself - it's just easier to find another job, honestly.

Alan Arnette is a standup guy. Wish him luck with his unfortunate leg injury and recovery!


If my enemy were unhealthy and trying to find a way to afford going to Everest, it may be worth it to me to pay for them to risk dying.


Just a point of interest with Alan -- he has raised a ton of money for Alzheimer's research through his climbing. I can speak for others, but he's the real deal an an amazing guy. Had a chance to talk to him prior to my Mont Blanc climb a few years ago. Class act.


You beat me to it. The original comment is ironic given that author is funded by charity. Alan is a refreshing character among all the gear sponsored social media "pros".


Alan suffered a pretty major injury to his leg a few months ago, it's unclear if he will be able to climb mountains again, but we all are pretty sure he will find a way.

http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2017/05/05/broken-leg-update...


Marathons wind me up something chronic, charities dump hundreds/thousands of pounds buying places to "sell" to runners at a profit. The runners fund this by convincing people to give them money towards it, and asserting the money goes to charity.

Well, some of it does, but a massive chunk goes on paying for the slot they're running in. Because they want to do it for fun/validation/other.


I don't think you are correct about this at all, and since you said "pounds" I assume you're talking about the London Marathon (though most others are similar).

With the London Marathon, charities buy their spots for £300 each[1] and get well over £1000 (sometimes much more) in return for each spot. Marathons are very expensive to organize, so it is not unreasonable for the organizer to charge for the entires. In addition, many spots that charities get are given out totally free of charge.

In all, millions of dollars and pounds are raised through these programs.

https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/news-media/m...


Of course not all of these events are bad, but there is a very real problem in many of them where often none or very little of the large entry fee goes to charity at all - only additional donations do. The organisers of charity sporting events rarely make this distinction clear.

The problem was especially acute when cycling exploded in the UK following Bradley Wiggin's and the British Team Sky's huge successes at the Tour de France. Charity cycling events called "sportives" sprang up all over the country, many of them badly organised and poorly run, with often very little of the funds raised going to charity. Basically a bunch of people saw an opportunity to make serous cash, given entry fees where often over 100 quid per person depending on the "package" you selected. It all kinda tied into the "cycling is the new golf" scene that gripped a lot of business people. The kinds of people vain enough to drop 15 grand on a full Sky Team issue Pinarello bike often like to pay for fancy events to show off their exspsensive habit. The guardian did some good coverage of the phenomenon a couple of years ago.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2012/jun/2...


I know next to nothing about the biking world, so this is interesting to me. But the comment I was replying to was specifically calling out Marathons which, for the most part (at least the majors), tend to raise a lot of money for charity. But thanks for the info on biking I will definitely read up on it.


Having spoken to people running charities which pay for the slots, and who then have to chase people to match their commitments in terms of fund raising (and more recently the introduction of personal liability if they don't raise enough) - I think it's absurd to claim this isn't the case.

Of course millions are raised. Millions are raised by the investment funds into which charities pour their excess capital, and the adverts they make, and the people they employ to stand on the street.

Charities are fund raising businesses which put profits into causes. If you're fine with donating £10 so someone can run a marathon and £20 to charity - good on you. I am not


In the US, marathon fundraising usually works pretty differently, in that the fundraising efforts are separate from the event itself. Anyone can enter the Chicago Marathon for $195 and can then choose to participate in whatever fundraising they like (e.g. Team in Training to support Lymphoma research). I'd be curious to see an event that works the way you describe. Do you have a link?


Boston Marathon: you can qualify by time or by raising money for a charity.

Qualifying by time is out of reach for most recreational runners, and there are only a few thousand charity spots, so people regularly raise 5 figures in order to run.

http://www.baa.org/utilities/charities/official-charity-prog...


> I've never seen the point of behind giving someone money "for charity" to do something they can't afford on their own. It's all about them and not the charity.

TBH a lot of people see startups in the same light.


But startups usually have more positive externalities than an Everest climb.


I would say the complete opposite. Most tech startups are pointless with no redeeming qualities and undertaken by pure ego and culture aimed at being mega rich regardless of how they claim they are going to change the world


Honestly I think that opinion is purely relative to your position. (not you personally, but to one's)


You'd be surprised how many try it....and even more how many get away with it. Many do it for PR for their own brand / company.


Nitpick that the 'trek' is to basecamp generally and fairly safe - the odd heart attack amongst the unfit. The climb above there to the summit is the dangerous bit.


I was flown out of base-camp with pulmonary edema along with a Sherpa on a climbing team who was dying from the same thing. Happens to everyone. This is probably the biggest scare if you're doing the trek to base-camp. Drink plenty of water. Don't go too fast. Try not to catch cold before your trek. If you can, get your hands on some meds that help you acclimate easier/faster. And I almost forgot, get yourself travel insurance. Costs $90 but could potentially save you a $10K heli ride out of the mountains and a couple of grand in hospital expenses if shit hits the fan.


> Drink plenty of water.

Cannot stress on this enough.

Dimox is usually advised for anyone doing a high altitude trek in which case one has to drink more water than usual.


>> get your hands on some meds that help you acclimate easier/faster

Do such drugs safely assist with acclimation, or do they mostly mask symptoms? It would be very dangerous to take them if it's the latter. I'm thinking of any similarity to pain killers - just because you can't feel the pain does not mean you should be running around trying to operate at 100%.


We had a number of people in my team who started taking prescribed drugs 2 weeks prior to the trip. Now, I never took anything, but from us measuring blood oxygen levels a few times a day, the drugs seemed to have helped absorb and retain oxygen levels in your blood stream better. It didn't seem to mask symptoms. In fact, by the time we got to base-camp nearly every single person on the team had some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache & dizziness). It's just that nobody's symptoms escalated to a full-blown HAPE (except for mine that is). Having said that, I don't think anything but proper acclimatization will help you with HACE. Once you get it, which typically happens at very high altitudes, you're pretty much screwed which I believe happens nearly every season on Everest climbs.


I've carried Diamox but never used it. I'm probably pretty lucky in that I've never had a noticeable issue at modest (3-4K meter) elevations and I've only had bad headaches a couple times when getting back from climbing up to around the 6K meter range.

I haven't been up to that altitude for a fairly long time. I can't say I'm up on the various recommended protocols.


> Drink plenty of water.

FYI, this is true anytime you go from sea level to any altitude. Live on the coast and go to Denver for ski trip? Drinking a ton of water will help your body acclimate faster.


Go easy on alcohol too. It hits you way harder and faster at altitude.


It's true. But it can and does kill fit people occasionally too. Some 25% of people are genetically predisposed to altitude sickness above 4000m according to a researcher I met while walking that trek myself. Base camp is well above 5000m.

Amazing trek though. One of the greatest experiences of my life.


Agreed. I have heard of many cases of evacs from Base camp. There are often deals worked out with chopper companies that allow them to claim off your insurance and you get a cheaper trip down the mountain (unnecessary evacuations, fast rides down).


To put a number on "huge chance", I think it's about 1% of summits in recent years.

Probably less if you just count clients not guides/Sherpas, and less if you expand to include climbers that don't end up attempting the summit.


A 1% fatality rate definitely qualifies as huge. The statistical value of life in the US, which is inferred from what people are willing to pay to avoid risk, is ~$10M. So a 1% risk is worth about $100k, i.e., this is something like what the median person would pay to avoid that risk. Non-expert climbers who pay for help to climb Everest probably have above average wealth and hence would probably pay even more to avoid this risk. It's sizeable. At least as risky as spaceflight.


For all time, Everest fatalities are 4% of summits. Of the 14 8k peaks, it ranks 11. The "huge" caught me too. At 30% fatality to summits, Annapurna and K2 are huge.


lol nobody thinks their race is going to protect them from mountains. Where on earth do you people get this nonsense?



Didn't I just see an article about Sherpas having a quirk of their metabolism that makes them better adapted for it?


Both you and OP are bizzare. Race does matter, sherpas are genetically different for altitude. It's not level.

But I did read their incredible carrying capacity seems to just be training. Which makes sense since that's a recent thing.


Please don't post uncivilly, even when someone else is wrong.


So you do think that financial status and intelligence can protect you from frostbite.


I finally got an answer to something I've wondered about for years: How much space is there at the summit of Everest? Is it just enough for a few people to huddle together or could you pitch a bunch of tents and have a picnic? I've never seen a photo taken at the summit that gives a good feel for the surface area.

Well, finally, this climber's blog has the answer: it's 30 square feet (or about 3 ㎡).

Found the answer here: http://www.alanarnette.com/everest/everestsouthroutes.php (search for "30 square feet").


To get a feel for how much space that is, if you can get access to a VR headset, I think you'd appreciate Everest VR. You can walk around the summit and see the view in any direction across full day/night cycles.


I apologize if I missed this but I didn't see an itemization of a death benefit paid to Sherpa's families.

I thought this had recently become regulated but I hear conflicting reports on these.

These are few years old but both worth a read on the subject of Sherpa insurance benefits:

https://www.outsideonline.com/1928326/disposable-man-western...

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mt-everest-disaster-raises-qu...


My understanding is that the government eventually caved (after the big icefall avalanche in 2014) to the Sherpas demands and raised the loss-of-life compensation considerably.

Note: I'm not saying it's a fair amount (I don't even know how you'd judge that) just that the information you linked might be outdated.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/04/-sp-sherpa-fam...

Edit: it appears to have gone from $400 to $5000.


Tried it in 2004. £14k all in or about $20k at the rates then. That was at the more cheap and cheerful end of climbs, Tibet side.


Is there perhaps a resource where there are "stories" of failed attempts? I'm planning for 2021 and very humbly want to walk in the footsteps of others.


Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, although maybe you don't want to read it until after the attempt. :)


Everest: The Unclimbed Ridge by Sir Chris Bonington and Charles Clarke [1] - then story of an individual failed attempt. Very enlightening and a great read imo.

[1] http://www.amazon.in/Everest-The-Unclimbed-Ridge/dp/03930187...


I'm not sure there's an organised one but a lot of people blog and the majority of people who are not professional mountain types don't actually make the summit.


Do you think you could be persuaded to do a different mountain?

Summitting Everest as most people do it now simply isn't that impressive--anyone with a mediocre level of fitness and a deep enough wallet can do it. It's more of a status symbol than an achievement. And in the process you'll end up supporting and industry that pays sherpas a fraction of the profits to risk their lives doing all the difficult and dangerous parts of Everest climbing for you.

Sure, an Everest summit photo will impress your dentist and your mom, but people who climb are just going to laugh at you. There are more difficult faces on every continent, and you can climb an equivalently difficult climb near where you live for a fraction of the cost. People in the know will be much more impressed if you tell them you climbed Rainier than Everest.


Have you submitted Everest? Regurgitating Outside Magazine dismissals of Everest tells me you've never touched that mountain. Guided or not, it's a incredible feat. It isn't Annapurna or K2, but it's still very, very difficult. No guide in the world can climb for you. People "in the know" see Rainier as a training climb. A nice accomplishment, but in the world of high altitude mountaineering, Rainier is the equivalent of swimming with dolphins in Mexico by comparison.

Those "in the know" would be impressed by climbing Makalu long before Rainier would be even on the radar. Rainier is a three day climb at most, while operating over 7000m for weeks at a time is an entirely different universe.

Sorry for the rant but that condescending tone some people take when they imply that Everest is just a walk-up has gotten pretty old. When you summit Everest, then perhaps you can belittle those that dream of doing it.

To your point about "more difficult faces on every continent" -- I beg to differ, Killamanjaro is an easy walk up and unless you're doing the north faces in the Alps, they still barely compare with the mental difficulty of Everest. South America has a few nice mountains, but it's an entirely different world above 8000m. I've done a dozen 4000m peaks in the Alps and they don't even compare for a second the difficulty of just walking around at 7000+ meters.

Real climbers (who have summited Everest) don't laugh at anyone who has summited Everest. They might not buy you beers in Kathmandu, but they certainly respect the accomplishment. Everest is really really hard -- guided or not.


Thanks for your perspective; there should be a word for people who talk condescendingly about things they've never done themselves.

Have you personally summited Everest? I'm interested in hearing you talk about your experiences and what it's like to operate at over 7000 meters.


>there should be a word for people who talk condescendingly about things they've never done themselves.

Poser?


I haven't been to Everest yet, most of my time is in the Alps, but I have been above 7k and for me, it's like walking around continually out of breath-- you have to do things really, really slowly.

I had a stupid incident on a 4K peak in Mexico -- I was doing a one-day climb and O was feeling great then like an idiot I started speed climbing to the summit. No problems until the decent, then I got a severe headache and could barely get down the mountain. I went from sea level to 4K in just a few hours and didn't pay attention to the altitude and without warning, I was almost on my knees. Even popular mountains like Mont Blanc (4810 meters) require a few days of acclimation, yet because Nevado de Colima is an "easy" mountain I didn't take the 4200 meters seriously. Almost a disasterous mistake.

My point is that above 4K, it pretty much sucks in terms of cardiovascular efficiency. Even Everest base camp is over 5k meters -- taller than anything in the Alps. Dehydration, snow blindness, feeling permanent exahausted.. it's a feat to hang out that high for very long. It isn't too hard to suffer above 4K for short stints (such as Mont Blanc for a day or two, but for weeks at a time, it takes a toll, even with acclimation.

I have nothing for respect for "beginners" that tip out on Everest or any Himalayan peak. The mental fortitude required is extraordinary.

Just a point of contention with the comment calling Everest a "beginner" mountain -- with a proper guide, even Eiger or the Matterhorn can be ascended by a beginner. A guide could drag a beginner up K2 (as insane as that might be,) the technical skills aren't the limiting factor on the big mountains, it's the endurance and mental toughness to survive in that environment. Perhaps K2 is a bit extreme, but technical skills are easily taught, what can't be taught quickly is how to read the mountain -- on Mont Blanc for example (and also Paradiso in Italy,) crevasses are often hidden under snowbridges, so you have to learn how to "read" the terrain. Interestingly, Mont Blanc is one of the deadliest mountains because people don't respect it -- they take a 3 day trip to Chamonix and think they're Ueli Steck and fall off the mountain or get hit by a Volkswagen sized rock crossing the Grand Couloir. Pretty much any mountain can be climbed by a beginner with the right guide, but that doesn't make them any less impressive.

By the way, I am not a "good" climber or an expert, I just love being up there and have immense respect for the people that make it look easy. It's anything but!

Don't know if that answered your question, but that's as good as I got!


No, I haven't climbed Everest. I also have never bought a Lamborghini--I'm not rich. Although if we're only letting people who have done it have opinions, maybe buying a Lamborghini is really difficult. Who am I to say, I've never done it!

I have summited Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, however, so I'm well aware of the difficulty of operating at altitude.

Lots of people summit Everest as their first (and often only) major summit. On what basis can you claim that Everest isn't a beginner summit if hundreds of beginners climb it every year?

Lastly, Kilmanjaro isn't the hardest summit in Africa.


The fact that the normal routes on Everest don't present major technical difficulties doesn't change the fact that it is immensely difficult physically and mentally due to the altitude and conditions.

Both you and @briandear are correct. On a sustained-alpine-climbing level, there are hundreds of routes/mountains harder than Everest. And to be sure, there are huge, difficult routes with thousands of vertical meters of sustained alpine climbing on 7000m+ peaks that are far beyond the Everest north and south normal routes and only attempted by the top 50 or 100 climbers on Earth.

But nonetheless, Everest is very hard no matter who you are. I disagree that Cotopaxi and Chimborazo have much do with the difficulty of Everest. These are mountains climbed in a single push from a medium-altitude camp, with only one or two hours spent above 6000m on Chimborazo, let alone 7000m. Trekkers in the Himalaya may sleep at higher altitudes than you ever would on Chimborazo. The hut you likely launched your summit bid on Cotopaxi from is not significantly higher than airport you fly in to in Lhasa to climb Everest from the north. Besides the far lower altitude, it's much easier to find a weather window for the 6-10 hour summit bid. I don't mean to downplay the challenge of the Andean volcanoes, but merely to tell you than the higher you go, it gets much, much harder. 6000m is only the beginning of "high altitude". I've climbed 6000m peaks in a weekend coming from sea level with one night of acclimatization. It's not the same by any measure.

Everest is an achievement by any route. No, it isn't the same as soloing huge routes in the Alaska Range like Colin Haley or Steve House, but that doesn't make it any easier.

I don't get your point about Rainier. Disappointment Cleaver on Rainier is a tourist route too, with no significant technical difficulties. Everest South Col is that plus a whole whack of other challenges.


My point about Rainier is that you can do it with your own equipment and planning and that would require more skill and still be cheaper than paying a team to take you to the peak of Everest. People are literally learning to climb 5.6 on Everest.

Sure, you can do Everest that way too (and then it is indeed very difficult) but that's not what we're talking about.

Altitude is certainly a challenge, but acclimatization takes out a lot of the difficulty. I actually had a harder time on Cotopaxi than on Chimborazo despite the altitude difference because I had 8 days of acclimatization in between.

It's also worth noting that a lot of Everest climbers have sherpas carry oxygen tanks up for them.


I understand you argue about "those internet people", but you also choose to question my motives which I find disrespectful. I'm not climbing for anyone but myself.

For what it's worth, ascending the Andes is what got me into altitude mountaineering in the first place. I'm looking forward to Cho Oyu which will be the first step towards Everest. Seeing how I'm yet to surpass 7000m (Aconcagua in December), it will surely be a test of faith.


My objections to people doing Everest aren't that it's overrated in difficulty--nobody is obligated to do difficult things. My objection is more about supporting an industry that makes deals with lawmakers to keep a monopoly, while paying sherpas a fraction of their profits to risk their lives.

I'm sorry I assumed your motivations. Why do you want to climb Everest? Why that mountain in particular, when there are so many other mountains that are just as challenging but can be climbed with a clean conscience?


>Altitude is certainly a challenge, but acclimatization takes out a lot of the difficulty.

And the sherpas on Everest also use oxygen themselves. Above about 7000m or so, you're pretty much out of the range where the human body can function in any sort of long-term way. You don't acclimatize at that level.

For peaks in the 6000m+ range (and even lower), acclimatization is somewhere between helpful and crucial. And that's about as high as I can go personally. Above that really does become a different game for almost everyone.


a different game for almost everyone.

For the others, look for Wim Hof. I still don't understand how.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_mountains_in_t... Everest is a mole hill compared to Mauna Kea- or Olympus Mons.

Is it really the experience, counting for itself, that those climbers claim to seek? I doubt that. Its about belonging to a exclusive club, either by paying or by having some attribute. And of course, everyone is in it for having the attribute, not the money.

If it really was about the experience, why not just ignore somebody who was never there? Respect comes to those who do incredible things, not regarding what other humans might think about it or consider of this accomplishment. Thus respect is rare.


I will always refer to Casey Neistats telling of how him and his buddy tried to climb Aconcagua and nearly died: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYCODMuoHNI

It's basically a warning to people who think they have the ability to do something, only to find out when the rubber hits the road, they were completely unprepared for what happened.

FYI:

Aconcagua - elevation: 22,841

Everest - elevation: 29,029

Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of Asia. Thus, it is the highest mounting in the Western and Southern hemisphere.


Rainier is awesome and a worthy endeavor for anyone but it's 14k feet vs. 28k feet and a whole other ballgame. To put it in perspective base camp for Everest is at 17k feet--well above the whole summit of Rainier. Or another way to think of it, when you get to the summit of Rainier imagine that as just the halfway point for an Everest climb.


Yeah, but you can do Rainier with your own gear and your own plan, as opposed to having a bunch of sherpas do all the work.

Sure, you can do the same for Everest, but then you're actually in a class of elite alpinists. That's not really what we're discussing here.

Complete beginners climb Everest as their first and often last major summit. No argument about altitude can prove that it's not a beginner climb if hundred of beginners are doing it every year.


Did you summit?


Nah - got to 8400m, was all set to go, then the oxygen gear blew a washer. 24 hours later got new gear but was too knackered.

By the way if anyone's interested in trying I recommend chatting to my organizer, Dan Mazur. They sometimes run free Mt Rainier climbs if you are over that way. https://www.summitclimb.com/climb/seattle-glacier-school/


Thank you for the link. That site sucked me in for an hour.

Good reason to visit Seattle.


Mountain Madness in Seattle also has a bunch of climbing programs as well as leading guided climbs both in the Pacific Northwest and internationally. I've done one of their schools--as well as taken a couple of their trips--although not recently.


The same site made me realize that there are active volcanos in the continental USA. I had no idea!

https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/north-america.html


They're all(?) dormant at this time but there are quite a few volcanoes on the West coast, the Cascades in particular, that could certainly become active. After all, it's only a few decades since Mount St. Helens exploded and the main blast area is still pretty, well, blasted.

Rainier is the iconic destination and the park is worth a visit. But it is crowded and there's a whole lot of wilderness and other summits throughout the Cascades.


> They're all(?) dormant at this time

Nope, Yellowstone is active.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/volcanoqa.htm

"Is the volcano still active?

Yes. The park’s many hydrothermal features attest to the heat still beneath this area. Earthquakes—1,000 to 3,000 per year—also reveal activity below ground. The University of Utah Seismograph Station tracks this activity closely."



Seems there's worse ways to spend your money if you have a ton of it, but am wondering how people rationalize the death rate, which seems to be 1% ?


They rationalize the death rate by making an informed choice about the risk involved and knowing why they're doing it.

I hope people are never denied such opportunities based on the opposing rationale that they're unsafe. Sometimes a self-unactualized can be worse than death.


I don't understand how someone might feel self-actualised because they paid 100K to climb a mountain which thousands of people of all ages have already climbed before.

Like many things in life, it probably has more to do with the weather conditions and the phase of the moon than your abilities as a person. To derive your self-esteem from external things which are almost entirely outside of your control makes no sense to me.


Experiences are non-transferrable. Billions of humans have had children. Nonetheless, when I had my own kids, it was a profound experience.

Self-actualization for many is not about standing out in comparison to others, it's about simply doing the experience itself for oneself.


> it probably has more to do with the weather conditions and the phase of the moon than your abilities as a person

You could say that about sailing across the Atlantic solo too but it wouldn't make any sense. It's all part of the journey and the accomplishment.

The "abilities" you speak of also encompasses emotional fortitude, decision making, pushing yourself, etc. The challenge doesn't need to be about being a world class mountaineer. For most - it's reaching a personal best and accomplishing something that scares you. That can make you feel even more alive.


Things like climbing (and power lifting - another one I have some experience with) do test your physical and mental abilities as a person. There comes a point in both where it is you against yourself. Do you continue or turn back? Overcoming those mental hurdles is an enormous challenge, and personally rewarding.

When I rest I feel utterly lifeless except that my throat burns when I draw breath...I can scarcely go on. No despair, no happiness, no anxiety. I have not lost the mastery of my feelings, there are actually no more feelings. I consist only of will. Messner on the first solo ascent of Everest


They derive worth from the parts they can control. Most people wouldn't survive the climb even in the best weather.

Changing weather is part of the risk, but I doubt anyone heads out knowing a storm is on the way.



Honestly the death rate really doesn't play a large part in most peoples decisions to Climb Everest. It is something you want to do, you know the risks, and you do it. Now if you are talking about a real climbers mountain like Annapurna or K2 then the death rate is a serious issue, those are closer to 30%-40% death rate. Those mountains though will attract a different type of climber as they take real technical skill, those who can climb Everest rarely can climb those other mountains.


Everest is actually one of the safest >8,000m peaks to climb. Annapurna and K2 boast 33.5% and 29.5% fatality rates [1]. Both are notoriously difficult climbs which require significantly more technical expertise than Everest.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-thousander


Seems like there is a new death news every day

One from today,

Mount Everest: Bodies of four climbers found in tent http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40025553


The death rates are very variable depending on how you do it. On the main southern route they are quite low now. I rationalized you gotta go some time, why not something fun rather than Alzheimers.


You're pushing yourself past any physical limits to achieve an incredible task. It's the same concept of why we're wowed by NFL players on Sunday and why we viewed lance armstrong as a "god" because of his biking ability.

Yes, he took drugs but then again, who didn't in a 4 day bike race.


> Yes, he took drugs but then again, who didn't in a 4 day bike race.

21 days for the Tour de France, most other races in the season are 7. 4 days is a really nice amatuer stage race :)


Good god. I was way off. I bike to work and feel like a hero lol


I don't know about rationale, but, IIRC, a significant portion of the deaths are from sherpas. In a 2014 avalanche, out of the 16 fatalities, 14 were Sherpas.

Regardless of the ratio of Sherpas-to-tourist deaths, almost every year a few Sherpas die performing the real dangerous work of running up and down the mountain making the climb manageable for the tourists, installing ladders and carrying oxygen to base camps and such.

So for the tourist, the death rate is probably much lower, likely in line with other dangerous activities such as skydiving, base jumping or race car driving.


The death rate in life is 100%. If you really want to do something like Everest, the relatively small risk shouldn't dissuade you.


Especially for those with partners and children they risk leaving behind without them, or even that they abandon them for weeks on end training for and pursuing their personal goals. These endeavors always strike me as being very selfish, narcissistic, and egotistical.


After reading Into Thin Air, what I'm afraid of with Everest is getting permanently sick from the polluted conditions at Base Camp. He describes it as positively disgusting and getting him and his fellow climbers sick with a persistent cough. No way, man.


>a persistent cough

This isn't really specific to basecamp. A lot of people in the area generally come down with "Khumbu Cough" due to a combination of altitude, dryness, cold temperatures, and exertion.

http://www.climbing-high.com/khumbu-cough.html


It's mostly due to throats/lungs drying out and getting infected. You have to breath like 3x the vol of air high up and it's very dry. I found the psolar mask really good for hydrating the air but it doesn't seem available any more http://www.exmask.com/psolarex.php


Jon K. and the rest of Outside have an agenda, He makes valid points, but you don't sell books by painting rosy pictures. Talk to Alan Arnette if you want a more balanced treatment of the state of Everest.

That "cough" has nothing to do with pollution, it has to do with being at high altitude for prolonged periods.


For each person who climbs Everest, a Sherpa has effectively made 2 to 3 climbs...and for many of them because of the dangers, it costs them their life.


So looks like the worst-case is around $150,000 total. That's significantly more than I expected it to be; given how "climbing Everest" seems to be more common than I would have expected, I would have thought it'd be cheaper if people did it that much.


I believe most people don't summit. They get to the first base camp only. The guide just seems to cost out the price of summiting too. You'd have to train, and spend time summiting other peaks too. Total cost to maximise your chances of succeeding would be significantly more.


The non-sherpa Summit percentage is about 50% since about 2000.

To your other point, you're of course correct. You can't exactly wake up one day and whip out your credit card. Controversy about the degree of assistance provided by some guided trips notwithstanding, it's still a very challenging endeavor. I'd be very surprised if just about anyone summited Everest without other significant climbs (even if not other 8,000 meter peaks) under their belt.


How common do you perceive it as? Only about 4600 people have done it, ever. That doesn't seem very common to me.


Right; it just seems like we hear about Everest more than basically every other mountain.


People seem to think climbing Everest is "more common" based on how much it gets publicized in the media. But I've been in the climbing business for a while and still don't personally know anyone who's summited. Maybe I don't have the right friends though.


I'm not sure the number but there's a lot of more professional climbers who have sponsorships that pay for their attempt on the mountain also.

Sure some save years for the chance but there's a good percentage that have sponsorships to try to summit.


I am amused at my own experience of reading this. I have read articles about the physical experience of climbing Everest and what it does to your mind and body. I have found this fascinating and useful as a point of comparison for thinking about my own medical issues.

But then I read this money angle and I am just repulsed by the idea of spending this kind of money on something like this. For this kind of money, I could basically pay cash for a small house (and would do so, if I had a chunk of change like this). I am appalled by the idea that anyone spends this kind of money on climbing a mountain.

And yet the articles about the climbing experience that I found so very meaningful would not exist if no one was willing and able to spend money like this.


Quite an industry. Yeah, 640 people went up and 635 came back alive; an ordinary year, you know, yadda yadda.

My boss gets really upset when I kill just a single customer.


One thing I was wondering about that I haven't found much about with various googling around - I get the idea that many climbers use supplemental Oxygen above 8km or so. Are they using Oxygen all the time, even when sleeping, or only when doing strenuous activities? And how long do those bottles last anyways if you're using it all the time? I guess nobody's carrying SCUBA-tank sized tanks around, but will a couple of bottles the size of a 2L bottle last multiple days of continuous use?


Here's a pretty good summary: http://www.mounteverest.net/expguide/oztech.htm

I don't have personal experience as I've never been that high. They're relatively small tanks (mostly 3 liter) that weigh about 2.5 kg full.


Thanks, that's pretty interesting. Seems they recommend bringing 12 bottles at 2.6kg for about 70 pounds of just oxygen tanks total for the whole climb, and 5 on the actual summit attempt, for ~30 pounds. That's already a lot of weight before you get to all of the clothes, food, water, climbing gear, and other supplies.


Interesting the OPs article says 5 bottles while the link above says take 12. I guess it depends upon the climber and their fitness.


Does this take into account opportunity cost for time off of work? I watched a presentation from someone who had summitted, and apparently you have to spend several weeks at basecamp acclimating to the altitude before you even start the climb. So not only are you paying for equipment/travel/license/lodging, but you have to make sure you'll still have a job when you get back. I imagine CEO types can take all the time in the world, but all my sick/vacation days combined as a lowly employee wouldn't give me enough time.

Edit: from the article, "Alpenglow unapologetically offers a climb from the Tibet side for an astonishing $85,000 per climber... They have a high western guide ratio, and include pre-acclimatizing in an altitude tent at home." So it sounds like pre-acclimatizing exists, but with this particular deal it's not cheap either.


>Does this take into account opportunity cost for time off of work?

Of course not.

Some people can and do arrange their lives and their employment so that they can do this sort of thing. Even if not Everest, other types of extended climbing/trekking/walking/traveling sorts of vacations. I haven't done it for years but I've taken several month-long treks in Nepal during an earlier life.

Some people do focus their vacation on an extended annual trip--which is pretty much what I did at the time. Others make arrangements to take additional time off unpaid. If that's a priority, you find an employer willing to allow this.


BTW, I imagine that it is quite difficult for "CEO types" to take off for this sort of trip to say nothing of the various activities that lead up to it.

Senior people can take extended leaves but it tends to be on a one-off basis.

As a "lowly employee," assuming you have some degree of power in your employment position, this is exactly the sort of things that you have control over. You may find that you really can't earn enough to take a bunch of the year off. But I've known plenty of people (and have myself to some degree) who can take a fair amount of time off if that's the [riority.


I was curious what the alternatives to the absurd idea of Everest, with its army of sherpas where you end up a rich tourist in a relatively poor region (apart from the obvious: to apply for a job as a sherpa) - and found this article that seems like a decent starting point (not so much the commercial packages mentioned, bit the brief overview of locations):

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/may/24/trekking-in-t...

Personally, I still have a few thousand kilometres and a dozens of peaks and lakes to see in Norway and Finland before a trip around the world chasing wilderness makes sense. And if I were looking for more wilderness - Siberia is closer...


I highly recommend just visiting base camp instead of climbing up everest... It's cheaper, safer and anyone can do it with minimal training. I also recommend that people walk in from Jiri rather than take the plane to Lukla; the experience is unforgettable.


For some, it costs 1 life.


I wonder if you wore something like a spacesuit if you could do it. It would provide heat and air.


Yes, of course, but the problem is power: how are you going to store enough energy in the spacesuit to provide both heat and pressurized air? You'd need to be tethered to a good-size generator or something.

You'd also need a LOT more power than used for real spacesuits, because of the heating requirement. In space, you don't need much heat to stay warm, because there's no way for the heat to leave your spacesuit other than by radiation, which is horribly ineffective (and that's a good thing for keeping astronauts warm; it's not such a good thing for keeping your electronics cool though). Climbing a mountain, there's still plenty of air, even if it's thinner than what you're used to, and that means you'll have convective cooling, which is extremely effective (notice how it's used in convection ovens, where they blow a fan to improve the effectiveness of the heating). So your spacesuit will need some really serious insulation, and still will need to generate a lot of heat to replace the heat that's continually being lost to the the ambient air.

On top of that, you're not floating around in space, you're climbing a mountain, so the spacesuit needs to be very rugged. Of course, tearing it won't cause immediate doom like in a spacesuit, but it's going to make it much worse to have cold air streaming in, and losing your pressurization.

IMO, the whole idea of climbing one of these mountains seems unnecessarily risky and just plain foolhardy to me. If you want to see nature, go hike a nice mountain trail in a temperate climate, where you'll see greenery, trees, maybe wildlife, etc. There's nothing to see on Mount Everest except a lot of snow, rocks, and corpses, and there's a significant chance your corpse will be added to those. AFAICT, the main reason people do this is for pure ego, nothing else. That's why they walk right by people who are dying on the slope instead of stopping to help. Utterly disgusting.


and ~0.1 lifes (if you summit)


I liked this line - "climbing Everest should not be about ego"


Just don't do it.

The economy of Nepal has been horribly distorted by western trekkers and do gooders.


So. Take out tourism or otherwise western infusions of cash. What does Nepal look like? I suppose I shouldn't mention Tibet.


More of a status symbol than an achievement


How much did it cost to land on the moon? I suppose Neil Armstrong didn't achieve anything then...


Neil Armstrong isn't hiring people living in the third-world to "achieve" something that contributes nothing except bragging rights and has at this point been accomplished hundreds of times.

If you're comparing someone climbing Everest in 2017 to the moon landing you have your head so far up your ass that you'll probably never see light again.


You missed my point and twisted my words.

I never said the accomplishments are equal; just that they were both accomplishments that required money and resources for the people to succeed.

Just because something requires money to accomplish doesn't mean it's not an achievement. You don't spend money and ride an elevator to the top of Everest as you and others try to suggest.

It's a challenge and an accomplishment any way you slice it.


I was just discussing this earlier this week with someone, but inflating my 2007 prices for 2017. Looks like I was pretty close: $45,000.


The question is also the cost for the planet

Many people could climb it, but if too many people take a flight, buy furniture, food, waste all this energy for just this artificial pride, it's really bad.

But that's exactly where the planet is heading

At least when Jornet climbs it with no assistance, no oxygen, it's interesting, because it's more eco-friendly


Seems silly to worry about the handful of people spending a few weeks on an entirely non-industrial task, when you've got a world of 7 billion people organized and running machines doing continual damage to the environment.





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