Many of us dream of trekking Mount Everest, but the cost to climb Everest is a huge barrier for most people. Even if you overlook the expense of getting the equipment in the first place and flying out to Nepal, a license to climb the world’s highest mountain costs an individual $25,000. That’s about to change though: the Nepalese government has announced that starting in 2015 this price will be slashed by more than half, dropping the cost to climb Everest to just $11,000 per climber.
Previously, the most cost-effective way of trekking Everest was to go as a larger group, as Nepal offered substantial discounts (a group of seven can currently visit for $70,000), but this discount will be abolished with the new, lower rates. Madhusudan Burlakoti, the head of Nepal’s department of mountains (the country has 8 of the top 14 highest mountains in the world, so unsurprising it has a whole department for them), announced the change stating “We hope to attract more climbers and at the same time better manage the climbing teams. This will allow the smaller teams and individuals more freedom when they climb Everest.” At the same time, Burlakoti also announced that the price for Nepalese citizens will drop to $750 for a spring permit.
Critics are concerned that lowering the cost of entry will cause more environmental strain on a mountain that already attracts two hour waiting times during peak season. Indeed several climbing legends have called upon Nepal to close access to Everest for a time to allow the mountain to rest. Given the country attracts $3.3m from climbing fees every year, it has so far refused, but Ang Tshering who worked on a committee to review mountain tourism in the country stated that the government plans to strictly monitor climbers in future to make sure that all climbing gear, food wrappers and oxygen cylinders leave the mountain with the climbers: “Our focus has been on minimizing the negative impact on the environment in the Everest region,” he said.
In 1963, only six people had reached the summit. In 2012, over 500 – or around 8000% more – people had climbed Everest. With the lower prices, we have to wonder how many will overcome the challenge in 2015 when the new prices take effect?