Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and one of the ultimate climbing destinations for professional climbers and exercise fanatics alike. Climbing Everest is a difficult process, however, that requires time, money, and a thorough understanding of all of the risks. Here’s what it takes to climb the world’s tallest peak.
Mount Everest’s summit point is located on the China-Nepal border, with an elevation of over 29,000 feet. Due to the high elevation, many climbers experience altitude sickness and must spend several weeks at the mountain’s base camp and climbing nearby mountains to adjust to breathing at the high altitude. Low oxygen levels present the biggest danger to climbers; over 300 people have died on Mount Everest since the first mountaineers reached its summit in the 1950s. Studies have shown that the high altitude has permanent negative effects on the brain and can lead to health complications long after climbers have made their descent from the mountain. Another risk that climbers face is avalanches, which occur often at the Khumbu icefall which is a necessary passage to reach the summit. The unpredictable weather conditions and extreme cold also pose a risk for climbers. As with any mountain, there is also the risk of a climber slipping; many deaths that occur on Everest are due to a climber falling as a result of the treacherous conditions. It is not uncommon to see bodies along the route to Everest’s summit.
Due to the intensity of the climb, summiting Everest is reserved for highly trained climbers and experienced mountaineers, many of whom spend years training by climbing other mountains at high altitudes, and ensuring they are in peak physical condition. Climbers must be in peak health, with no physical issues like bunionettes or broken bones. Climbing conditioning and strength training are thought to be the best way to prepare, and many experts and experienced climbers suggest training for at least 9 months before attempting Mount Everest.
Climbing Mount Everest is extremely expensive, due to the amount of gear and assistance that is required to make a summit bid. The average cost for one climber can range from $28,000 to $100,000, depending on the type of accommodations one prefers to have. At a minimum, this cost includes food during the climb, all group equipment, supplemental oxygen which is necessary to reach the summit, and the support of Sherpa guides. Higher costs include a more “luxurious” experience which can include lodging and transportation before the climb, wifi at base camp, extra supplemental oxygen tanks, and medical care at base camp. No money is refundable for climbers who are unable to reach the top due to weather conditions or injuries. No matter what climbing team or program you choose to help you make the climb, climbing Everest cannot be done on a modest budget.
After reading this, you might be thinking “is climbing Mount Everest worth it?” The answer depends on what is important to you. If you are interested in climbing Everest so that you can say you successfully climbed the world’s tallest mountain, you might want to reconsider. The associated costs and risks of attempting Everest might outweigh the benefit of being able to brag to your friends that you did it. Is telling a story worth risking your life?
Mount Everest should be climbed as a natural next step for experienced high altitude climbers and professional mountaineers. It is no small journey, so climbers should prepare accordingly.