Alan Arnette gets asked that same question all the time. Fortunately, Alan has once again posted a summary of the costs for the season ahead, where we discover that the options are getting both more, and less, expensive all the time.
Alan's 2016 version of his annual blog post on how much it costs to climb Everest is a comprehensive look not just at the expenses of such an expedition, but the trends that operators on the mountain are now facing. When researching this topic, Alan reaches out to the guiding companies for insights into not just their pricing, but the factors that impact their costs. In recent years, there has been a few high profile companies pushing the costs upwards, while less expensive operators from Nepal jump into the fray for the first time. As a result, there may now the largest gap ever in terms of low- and high-end options.
Alan's says that a typical Everest climb will range from as low as $30,000 to as high as $85,000 in 2016. The high end of that market is dominated by companies such as Madison Mountaineering, Adventure Consultants, Himex, and Alpenglow. At the other end of the spectrum you'll find Nepali companies that are still looking to earn a name for themselves.
There is also a difference in price based on which side of the mountain you climb on. Nepal's South Side is the more expensive route, with the average cost running about $42,000. While on the North Side in Tibet an expedition is considerably less, averaging closer to $32,000. That's a considerable savings, but there are some bureaucratic obstacles to overcome when you go North, which is why the vast majority of climbers stick to the South, despite the increased costs.
If you've ever wondered where all of that money goes, Alan has a nice breakdown of the expenses too. The short answer is that your cash goes to pay for travel expenses, permits, insurance, guides, and so on, but there is more to it than just that, and Alan offers insights based on his numerous expeditions to the Himalaya.
Personally, I always enjoy reading this post each year. It provides a good sense of how things are developing for the spring climbing season, and what to expect from the companies that will be leading teams up Everest. Hopefully 2016 is a much more productive year on the mountain, with less heartache and tragedy than the past two. We'll find out soon enough.