How to Buy Your Way onto a Mount Everest Expedition

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So you want to climb the world's highest mountain? It's just spooky how easy it is to sign on with an Everest expedition. In fact, you can join an expedition in minutes via the Web. Essentially all you need is a lot of cash and rudimentary mountaineering experience. It's prudent to get your affairs in order: Many climbers--even experienced ones--die on Everest each year.

Pony up at least $60,000 in cash, most of which has to be wired to the expedition company's bank account before you start the 62-day journey. Might as well write your will while you're at it.

Get in the best shape of your life and join as many serious mountaineering climbs as possible. There are numerous U.S. companies offering mountaineering clinics. Whether a climbing team will take you on depends on your skills and value as a team member.

Choose an ascent route. Everest's southeast ridge on the Nepal side is the classic first ascent route. Less technical and dangerous than the northern Tibetan route, it's usually more expensive.

Make sure the expedition's guides are highly trained and have serious Everest experience. Numerous companies will take your money and your word that you have the skills and stamina to summit. Just fill out an online trip application form (scary, eh?).

Watch out for hidden costs such garbage deposit ($4,000 per team), entry visa, oxygen and regulator, Sherpa and porter gratuities, extra yaks and customs duty for all your gear.

Buy at least $50,000 in emergency medical evacuation insurance in case you need to be helicoptered out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase accident insurance before you depart, particularly for helicopter evacuation and rescue. Travel and trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended as well (see How to Get Travel Insurance).
  • Check with your physician what shots are needed before you go.
  • Everest summit expeditions typically depart in late March and late August.
  • See How to Write a Living Will.

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