As Deaths Mount, Climbing Everest Gets Pricier

Nepal plans to hike the cost of climbing permits
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2023 5:30 AM CDT
As Deaths Mount, Climbing Everest Gets Pricier
A bird flies with Mount Everest seen in the background from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal, May 27, 2019.   (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)

Nepal is upping the price of its Everest climbing permits—an administrative detail that might not catch much attention, were it not for the size of the increase and the reason behind it. The cost of the permit will jump 36% for foreigners in 2025, from $11,000 to $15,000, and Outside Online reports it's because "dead bodies are piling up on the world's highest peak, and recovering corpses is a costly affair." The cost of such an effort, should a climber die north of around 26,000 feet on the 29,035-foot mountain, can range from $20,000 to $200,000. And while some climbers have insurance that foots the bill, not all do; it's possible such insurance could become mandatory in the future.

What will become mandatory going forward, reports the Kathmandu Post, is that all bodies be brought down the mountain following a death. More than 300 people have died on Everest, and more than 200 bodies remain there. The Post has a slightly different take on the reason for the increase, quoting one tourism official who says the goal is to "streamline the industry" and control numbers as the mountain gets more and more crowded. Nepal issued 478 permits for the 2023 spring season, handily beating the previous record of 409 in 2021. The number of fatalities was high as well, at 17 on the Nepal side.

Criticism has mounted over Nepal's willingness to extend a climbing permit to anyone who can pay the fee, regardless of their experience. Reuters reported in April that the government was toying with the idea of mandating that climbers first scale at least one 6,000-meter (about 20,000-foot) peak in Nepal before trying Everest. Gripped notes the all-in cost of actually acquiring the permit ends up being thousands more once additional fees—like $2,500 to hire a local company to organize the permit—are tacked on. It costs tens of thousands more to hire an operator to climb with. (More Mount Everest stories.)

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