Mount Everest, standing at a breathtaking 8,848 meters (or 29,029 feet), is not only the Earth’s highest mountain but also a symbol of ultimate adventure and challenge. While it’s not necessarily the most difficult peak to ascend (that distinction might go to Annapurna in Nepal or K2 on the China/Pakistan border), Everest’s fame attracts numerous climbers annually. But, is climbing this colossal mountain as straightforward as just showing up and starting the ascent? Not.

Age plays a critical role in determining who can take on Everest. If you’re looking to climb from the Nepali side, you need to be over 16 years old, while the Tibetan side requires climbers to be over 18. These age restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of preparation and requirements for attempting to conquer this mighty peak.

Climbing Everest is a costly endeavor, with expenses varying widely based on several factors, including the chosen route (Nepal or Tibet side), the size of your group, and the level of support you desire. A minimal budget from the Nepal side could range from $20,000-$25,000, while a more realistic estimate is around $40,000-$60,000. From Tibet, expect to spend about $30,000-$40,000. These figures include Sherpa guide fees, oxygen bottles, gear, travel, and sometimes performance-enhancing drugs, as indicated by Dr. Luanne Freer, founder of the Everest ER.

Skimping on supplemental oxygen to save costs is highly discouraged. Approximately 40% of fatalities on Everest occur in climbers attempting the ascent without oxygen, despite them making up only about 3% of all climbers. Moreover, even a successful climb without oxygen often results in some degree of brain damage due to the extreme altitudes.

For those who seek a more luxurious experience, there are ultra-premium packages offered by guide organizations. These can include Sherpas carrying all your equipment, prepared meals, ample WiFi for communication, and abundant oxygen supplies stored along the route. This high-end experience can cost upwards of $200,000 per person.

It’s crucial to note that regardless of how much you spend, physical fitness and mountain climbing experience are non-negotiable. The journey to Everest’s summit demands exceptional physical condition and extensive experience in extreme mountain climbing.

Another essential requirement is obtaining a climbing permit, available from either Nepalese or Tibetan authorities. The cost of these permits, usually included in the package prices, has changed recently. The Nepalese government, for instance, set a flat rate of $11,000 per climber in 2015, removing group discounts. This change aims to reduce congestion at the summit, which has become a significant issue, leading to dangerous situations and abandoned attempts. Climbers from Nepal, however, enjoy a substantially reduced fee of just $750.

The Tibetan side of Everest, though less popular, offers a slightly more economical option, with permits costing $7,000 per climber.

Climbing Mount Everest is an exhilarating experience that offers the ultimate challenge for mountaineers. The allure lies in the achievement of reaching the summit of the world’s highest peak, a feat that symbolizes human endurance and determination. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that provides unparalleled views and a profound sense of accomplishment.

Physical and Mental Fortitude Development

The journey to Everest’s summit is a test of physical and mental strength. Climbers often experience a significant improvement in their physical fitness, endurance, and mental resilience. The extreme conditions and challenging terrain push climbers to their limits, fostering a deep sense of inner strength and perseverance.

Environmental and Cultural Enrichment

Climbing Everest offers a unique opportunity to experience diverse environmental and cultural landscapes. Climbers get to witness the majestic beauty of the Himalayas and interact with the local Sherpa community, gaining insight into their rich culture and traditions.

The High Financial Cost

One of the significant cons of climbing Everest is the expense. The cost includes permits, gear, travel, guides, and potentially life-saving oxygen tanks. This high financial barrier means that Everest remains an elusive dream for many aspiring climbers.

Risk of Severe Health Issues

The extreme altitude and harsh conditions on Everest pose serious health risks. Climbers face the dangers of altitude sickness, frostbite, hypothermia, and even potential long-term health impacts like brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

Environmental Impact and Overcrowding

Everest’s popularity has led to environmental concerns, including littering and strain on local resources. Overcrowding, especially during peak climbing seasons, not only harms the environment but also increases the risks of accidents and diminishes the overall experience.

Uncertain Success and High Fatality Rate

Despite the best preparation, success on Everest is never guaranteed. Weather conditions, physical health, and other unforeseen factors can hinder a climber’s ability to reach the summit. Additionally, Everest has a notable fatality rate, with the climb claiming the lives of even the most experienced mountaineers.

Death Tolls On Everest

  • Avalanches are one of the leading causes of death on Mount Everest, accounting for 68 fatalities​​.
  • Falling has been another significant cause of death, with 67 recorded fatalities​​.
  • Exposure to the extreme conditions on Everest has led to 27 deaths​​.
  • Altitude sickness, a critical risk factor due to the mountain’s height, has resulted in 21 deaths​​.
  • The strenuous climb and high altitude have also led to 11 deaths from cardiac arrest​​.

Tools You Need To Climb Everest

High-Altitude Mountaineering Boots

For any Everest aspirant, high-altitude mountaineering boots are indispensable. These specialized boots are designed to withstand the extreme cold and challenging terrain of Everest. They offer insulation to protect against severe frostbite and are compatible with crampons for ice climbing. The boots must be sturdy yet comfortable enough for the long and arduous trek.

Oxygen Tanks and Masks

Oxygen tanks and masks are critical tools for surviving the thin air at Everest’s high altitudes. As you ascend, the air becomes thinner, making it difficult to breathe. Carrying supplemental oxygen helps prevent altitude sickness and maintains cognitive and physical functions. Selecting lightweight, reliable tanks and comfortable, efficient masks is crucial.

Satellite Phone or Communication Device

A satellite phone or similar communication device is vital for maintaining contact with the outside world. Given the remote and unpredictable nature of Everest, climbers need a reliable way to communicate, especially in emergencies. Modern devices also offer GPS functionality, which can be a lifesaver in harsh conditions.

Crampons for Ice Traction

Crampons are essential for navigating the icy and snowy terrain of Everest. They provide the necessary traction to climb steep ice and snow slopes safely. Crampons should be sturdy, easy to attach to your boots, and suited to the specific conditions of Everest’s terrain.

Lightweight, Insulated Sleeping Bag

A high-quality sleeping bag is a must for resting in the extreme cold of Everest. It should be lightweight for ease of carrying and insulated to withstand temperatures well below freezing. A good sleeping bag is a climber’s refuge after a long day of climbing and can make a significant difference in recovery and overall health during the expedition.

The Dark Side Of Everest

  • Above 8,000 meters, Everest enters what is known as the ‘Death Zone,’ where the oxygen level is insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period. Prolonged exposure in this zone can lead to severe altitude sickness and even death, as the body’s vital systems begin to shut down.
  • Mount Everest is also referred to as the “graveyard in the clouds.” Due to the extreme conditions and difficulty in retrieving bodies, many of those who perish on the mountain remain there. It’s a somber reminder of the mountain’s deadly nature.
  • Climate change is causing Everest’s glaciers to melt, which can lead to the release of bodies previously entombed in ice. This not only presents a grim sight for climbers but also poses environmental and health risks.
  • The commercialization of Everest expeditions has led to a surge in inexperienced climbers attempting the summit. This increases the risk of accidents, as many lack the necessary skills and understanding of the mountain’s challenges.
  • Sherpas, the local guides who assist climbers, often face exploitation. They bear the brunt of the workload and risk but typically receive far less compensation and recognition compared to Western guides or climbers.
  • Sherpas, regularly exposed to life-threatening situations and the trauma of witnessing or recovering bodies can suffer from significant psychological stress and PTSD, an often overlooked aspect of their work.
  • The mountain is littered with waste left by climbers, including tents, equipment, and even human waste. This not only spoils the natural beauty but also poses a significant environmental threat.
  • Many climbers are unaware or insensitive to the cultural and religious significance of Everest to the local Sherpa and Tibetan communities. The mountain, known as Chomolungma, is considered sacred, and certain climbing practices may disrespect local beliefs and traditions.

Certain routes on Everest, especially the South Col route, are known for their high risk, yet they remain popular. Overcrowding on these routes can lead to dangerous traffic jams, increasing the risk of exposure and accidents.

The influx of climbers and tourists puts a strain on the local resources, affecting the livelihoods and environment of the indigenous population. The local communities often bear the cost of this strain without adequate compensation or benefits.

Climbing Mount Everest is a feat that goes far beyond just physical endurance. It requires careful planning, significant financial investment, and adherence to age and legal requirements. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a wealthy adventurer seeking the ultimate challenge, Everest demands respect, preparation, and a deep reverence for the majesty of nature’s tallest peak.