Blogger Alan Arnette has released an annual report on the cost of summiting Everest, showing that permit prices, life insurance premiums, and other factors have pushed up the price of the adventure for the spring 2015 season.
Climbing permits have gone from $10,000 to $11,000 per climber. (A group of seven climbers who would have paid a total of $70,000 in 2014 are looking at $77,000 next year.) Following the tragic avalanche in April 2014, in which 16 mountain workers were killed, many companies are increasing their spending on life insurance from $10,000 to $15,000 per Sherpa. That cost is passed on to the climbers. This is in addition to a 2012 rule requiring foreign climbers in Nepal to hire local Sherpa guides at a price tag of $4,000. (This rule has been largely unenforced.)
Tack on travel expenses and a trash deposit of $4,000 per climber and the costs quickly add up. Arnett places the average price for a climb during the 2015 season without Western guides at $41,700. A trip with a Western guide will cost $57,000 on the mountain’s south side and $46,000 on the north side.
“Many climbers will be in for sticker shock as prices have dramatically increased for 2015,” says the mountaineer, who has summited Everest four times and wrote about the death of Alexey Bolotov on Everest’s southwest face in May 2013.
A shifting dynamic between locals and Westerners is at the heart of the changes now taking place on Everest. Arnette writes that Nepalese expedition operators are now offering more reliable support than ever, with local companies including Asian Trekking, Monterosa, High Altitude Dreams, Himalayan Ascents, and Seven Summits Treks offering trips to the top for thousands of dollars less than their Western competitors. Still, many climbers may opt to hire a Western guide.
“With Nepali companies offering Everest in the $25K to 35K range and non-Nepali from $40K to $65K, the lines are being drawn,” Arnette writes. “It remains a buyer beware environment where selecting an unprepared operator (Nepali, non-Nepali, solo—all companies included) may mean your life.”
“Everest is no longer the sole domain of an affluent middle class in Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.,” Arnette adds. “It is now attractive to the same demographics in India, Nepal, and China. These new clients seem to be attracted to the lowest price and Nepali-owned support, thus creating demand for companies to meet that need.”