Monday, May 30, 2011

What does it take to summit Everest

By Pradeep Prakash - Click for high resolution and more pics .
Gorakshep - the last settlement enroute to Everest. Then comes the Base Camp and the High Base Camp - Camp-I, Camp-II, Camp-III and Camp-IV. Kalapattar[5550mtrs above MSL] is also seen here [ mountain devoid of any snow and so the name].

What does it take to summit Everest - A good pair of legs, time and oh yes, $45,000.
I guess you could do away with the legs but you do need time – at least six weeks for the final stretch – and money. If you did away with the legs then I’d say you need considerably more than $45,000.
Jokes asides, I had a friend ask me why it is so expensive and time consuming, why can you not just go up and climb, will they jail you if you do not buy the $10,000 permit.  Having just returned from the Everest Base Camp I initially giggled at the questions, told him that he really needs to read up but then I thought about the scores of summiteers that we saw coming down, one of them even commented of a traffic jam up there – too many people trying to summit. So, I decided to do some research on what are the basics required to climb Everest.
  • Approximately 400 people on average climb Everest every year – 512 summited in 2010.
  • There were just four deaths in 2010. Since 1990, the deaths have dropped to 4.1% due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations. Annapurna is a much more deadly mountain than Everest with a summit to death ratio of 2:1 deaths for every summit (109:55).
  •  It is harder to set records now, youngest, oldest, women, men, number of summits are all taken… so people are doing back to back and even funkier stuff now. If you want to climb it is unlikely to set any records.
  • It is twice as hard to climb from the China side – more technical and cheaper but your chances of summiting is halved and chances of dying is doubled.

Cost:         $45000 and up
$15000 upfront
70+ days
Type:        Mountaineering
You need a climbing resume – experience with HMI, mountaineering experience is all required.
Sample ask  - Participants on our Mt. Everest Expedition must have a solid understanding of mountaineering skills. We require that each team member have previous high altitude experience, such as McKinley, Aconcagua, Cho Oyu or other 7,000 - 8,000 meter peaks. Screening and final selection will be done on an individual basis after we have reviewed your climbing resume and our veteran Everest Guides have spoken with you directly

Just to show how commercial it can get there was an ad that cracked me up - Want to Climb Everest? $50,000 + 2 Weeks Training (no experience necessary)
At the same time a heartbreaking article on the death of someone who took a cheaper route and wanted to do it on his own made me rethink the journey up

It is expensive for a reason - the money goes for a permit, guides, sherpas, oxygen, to fund the five camps that you have to stay in for over six weeks. You stay to acclimatize and slowly get strong enough to take the mother of all heights on. There are stories about the ice falls, the balcony, the Hilary steps and if you really want to climb then you need to give yourself a minimum of a year to prepare (and a minimum of a month to read up about all this)
I know it is something I am not going to do. They say a bug gets into you when you first see Everest- even just a photo of it. It devours you from inside and makes you crawls up to the top. I saw Everest when I was twelve and I saw it again last week. I admire it. I admire those that climb on it but I am happy looking up at it. I don’t have the need to look down from it.

1 comment:

  1. Liked the last few lines... Highly inspiring to give up the idea of climbing the everest :P