Mount_Everest_as_seen_from_Drukair

The Only Thing Tougher Than Climbing Everest is Raising The Funds

Over the summer I climbed a few mountains; Mount Snowden in Wales, UK (1,085m) and Mount Diablo in California, USA (1,173 m). These are the 1273rd and 1268th highest peaks in the world respectively.

While I’m happy with these expeditions they do not compare with even the top 100 peaks, all of which reach 7,000m above sea-level.

On my summits the biggest cost was the car park (£10 per day at Snowden, if I recall correctly). However, these sums are insignificant to climbing some of the world’s highest mountains where costs can easily run into tens-of-thousands-of-dollars.

Which left me wondering; how much does it cost to summit the highest mountains?

Methodology

To get a wide spread of mountains, to account for geographic cost differences, I decided to compare costs of climbing the Seven Summits. For those unfamiliar, the Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge. The seven mountains that make up the series are:

Overall rank Mountain Meters Feet Continent
1 Mount Everest 8,848 29,029 Asia
235 Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 19,341 Africa
134 Aconcagua 6,962 22,841 South America
247 Mount Elbrus 5,642 18,510 Europe
213 Denali 6,168 20,236 North America
303 Puncak Jaya 4,884 16,024 Oceania
301 Vinson Massif 4,892 16,050 Antartica

You’ll see the only mountain in the top 100 highest peaks worldwide in this list is Everest. Over half of the top 100 peaks are found in the Himalayas, the mountain range where Everest is located.

Climbing costs can vary significantly person-to-person. One of the largest costs climbers incur are climbing guide fees. Generally, the more experienced guides are, the more climbers will pay for their services. I used the cheapest guide prices taken from two American guide services advertising climbs for the Seven Summits in 2017.

Climb times offered by guides also vary too. For time, I used an average figure calculated using the high and low climb estimates provided by the two guide services.

Results

Guide fees to climb the Seven Summits

Guide-fees-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20171

Download chart.

Guide fees rank Mountain Guide fees (USD) Meters
7 Aconcagua $4,700.00 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $5,000.00 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $5,000.00 5,642
4 Denali $8,500.00 6,168
3 Puncak Jaya $27,000.00 4,884
2 Vinson Massif $42,000.00 4,892
1 Mount Everest $65,000.00 8,848

Download table.

Some of these climbs are seen by elite climbers as hikes. For example, trips to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, are advertised to the masses as a safe and relatively easy climb. The low climbing fees, starting from $5000, make it even more attractive for those entering the world of mountaineering. Compare that to Everest, where prices start from $65,000, or the price of premium car!

To climb all Seven Summits at the prices listed above would cost you $157,200 in guide fees alone.

Cost per day to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-day-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20172Download chart.

Cost per day rank Mountain Cost per day USD Days ave Meters
7 Aconcagua $213.64 22 6,962
6 Mount Elbrus $357.14 14 5,642
5 Denali $386.36 22 6168
4 Mount Kilimanjaro $434.78 11.5 5,895
3 Mount Everest $896.55 72.5 8,848
2 Puncak Jaya $1,687.50 16 4,884
1 Vinson Massif $2,153.85 19.5 4,892

Download table.

While an Everest ascent and descent of 8,848 meters takes on average 72.5 days to complete, the cost to climb is significantly cheaper at $896.55 per day than both Puncak Jaya and Vinson Massif costing $1,687.50 per day and $2,153.85 per day respectively.

In contrast, Aconcagua is the cheapest to climb at $213.64 per day, over 90% cheaper than the most expensive Vinson Massif.

Cost per meter to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-meter-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20171

Download chart.

Rank cost per meter Mountain Cost per meter USD Meters
7 Aconcagua $0.68 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $0.85 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $0.89 5,642
4 Denali $1.38 6168
3 Puncak Jaya $5.53 4884
2 Mount Everest $7.35 8848
1 Vinson Massif $8.59 4892

Download table.

Again, and surprising to me, Everest is not the most expensive mountain to summit. When looking at cost per meter Everest will set you back $7.35 per vertical meter, however, Vinson Massif, almost half the height of Everest will cost $8.59 per vertical meter! Whilst Everest is remote, Vinson Massif in Antartica is significantly harder to get to and has a less developed climbing industry resulting in the higher costs.

Similarly, Puncak Jaya, the smallest summit by height of all seven (4,884m) is the third most expensive costing $5.53 per vertical meter.

Improvements

This post only considered costs listed by two climbing guide companies. There are large variations in actual costs charged by guide companies. Take Mount Everest for example, where some report guide costs between $30,000 – $85,000. It would be interesting to compare summit success per company by costs charged to help understand if more money buys success (or better guides).

tl;dr

As expected, guide fees to climb Everest are most expensive of all seven summits costing around $65,000 with expeditions taking on average 72.5 days. However, Vinson Massif, the second smallest mountain in the Seven Summit series at 4,892m has the second highest guide fees, $42,000, which means it is the most expensive when analysing the expeditions based on cost per day ($2,153.85) and cost per meter ($8.59).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

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