The Cost of Climbing Everest — 2020 Edition

Whenever I discuss the logistics and time requirements for a climbing Everest expedition to Everest, the one thing that stuns people who don’t follow the mountaineering scene is just how much it costs. It is not uncommon for even experienced mountaineers to get a bit of “sticker shock” when pricing an Everest climb, particularly as the costs only continue to go up each year.

Thankfully, our friend Alan Arnette always does a great job of keeping tabs of those price increases and makes an annual blog post breaking down just where all of that money goes. A few days back, Alan posted the numbers for the spring 2020 season ahead, once again answering the age-old question of just “how much does it cost to climb Everest?

How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?

As has been the case for the past few years, the average cost of an Everest expedition is going up once again in 2020. Alan says that climbers will pay around $30,000 on the low end, and can pay as much as $160,000 on the high end. The average person will pay roughly $45,000 this season, which edges up slightly compared to last year.

Part of the surge in pricing comes from the fact that China has recently raised the price of the permit to climb the mountain from the North Side, going from $9950 to a whopping $15,800. Nepal is expected to follow suit by raising the price of its permits too, although as of this writing that hasn’t happened yet.

Everest kalapatar view
Photo Credit: Paval Novak (via WikiMedia)

Additionally, there is some support within Nepal to raise the cost of an expedition in general. As more and more Nepali guide companies form, there is a vested interest by the locals to ensure that they are being paid fairly. Because of this, officials are mulling over the idea of requiring expeditions to have a minimum price of $35,000 as well, instituting a price floor.

That isn’t likely to have an impact on the cost of an expedition this season but could come into play in the future.

What’s the Breakdown of all the Costs?

Of particular interest in Alan’s post, each year is the breakdown of the costs, explaining exactly where all of the money goes. For instance, he estimated about $500-$10,125 of the price is for travel alone.

This expense is highly dependent on where you live and how much you spend on airfare just getting to and from Nepal. If you fly first class, your ticket price will go up significantly, but if you’re willing to sit in the back in coach, you can save a lot of money.

Price of permits to climb Mt. Everest

An additional $11,000-$29,500 goes into permits and insurance prices, which is also a large part of the cost of an expedition. That is a pretty broad range as well, with the specific insurance provider having an impact, as well as which side of the mountain you’re climbing on.

Supplies and gear will set you back anywhere from $800-$29,450, with this expense coming down to what equipment you already own and what items you’ll need to purchase. Unless you’re already a high-altitude climber, you probably don’t own a down suit for instance.

everest traffic jam
Photo Credit: Nirmal Purja via Facebook

Obviously these price ranges are extremely wide, but Arnette goes into far more detail to help readers understand how he got to those numbers and exactly why there is such a big range.

Extensive Detail

His breakdown is much more detailed and intricate than what I’m providing here, with plenty of good advice and insight into what you do and don’t need for an expedition to the Himalayas. That wisdom has been gained over the years of his own climbing expeditions in a  wide variety of locations across the globe, including successful summits on both Everest and K2.

True to his usual level of meticulous detail, Alan also takes a look back at the previous year to examine trends and variables, while later wrapping things up with a detailed spreadsheet that really breaks everything down into a variety of categories.

The Impact on Cost of Overcrowding

That includes an examination of how events in 2019 are impacting the climbing season for 2020, Arnette reminds us that it was a volatile year on the mountain, with massive overcrowding on the South Side, long lines near the summit, and a number of deaths that probably could have been avoided.

All of that hangs over the 2020 season with a dark shadow. A similar outcome for next spring could potentially be disastrous.

To get the full scoop on the price of climbing Everest check out the article here.

Kraig Becker