The Costs of Climbing the Seven Summits

How Much It Costs to Join Commercial Expeditions for Peak Bagging

hikers are looking at Mount Kilimanjaro from the rocky ridge of Mount Meru.
View to Mount Kilimanjaro from Mount Meru. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It rises approximately 4,877 metres (16,001 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level.   Menno Boermans / Getty Images

You too— if you’re rich enough—can join the exclusive Seven Summits club of those folks, who have climbed the highest mountains on each the seven continents.

Climbing Old-School Style

The old school way to get ready for the Seven Summits was to pay your dues and apprentice yourself to a master mountaineer. If you did that you would spend a lot of time and energy, years, in fact, slogging up behind him or her on all kinds of peaks like Mount Rainier. You would learn all kinds of essential mountain skills like how to self-arrest, avoid crevasses, take a pee in a tent, anchor and ascend a fixed rope, chop steps, front point up ice faces with crampons, melt snow for water, and the other important skills that you need to stay alive in the high mountains. Then you would be accepted as a competent and trusted mountain climber. You could be welcomed on expeditions with others who had similar expertise.

Climbing Nowadays—You'll Need a Big Wad of Cash

These days you don’t have to do all that busy work. If you've got enough spare cash, you might not want to put in the time and effort to develop the mountaineering skills and judgment to safely climb and descend the Seven Summits on your own. Instead, you can decide, “Wow, it would be so cool to climb the Seven Summits!” and plunk down a fat wad of cash to join a commercial expedition that just might (somewhat) safely short-rope you up and down all of the mountains.

How Much The Seven Summits Cost

If this sounds like something you want to do for the bragging rights, then here is a breakdown of your basic expenses. These prices were taken from those advertised for Seven Summits by two American guide services in 2017.

Climbing Guide Fees

  • Kilimanjaro, Africa $5000 and up (8 to 15 days from Moshi or Arusha, Tanzania)
  • Aconcagua, South America $4,700 and up (20 to 24 days from Mendoza, Argentina)
  • Mount Elbrus, Europe $5000 (14 days from Moscow, Russia)
  • Denali AKA Mount McKinley $8,500 and up (22 days from Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia $27,000 and up (15 - 17 days from Bali, Indonesia, helicopter supported)
  • Mount Vinson, Antarctica $42,000 (16 to 23 days from Punta Arenas, Chile)
  • Mount Everest, Asia $65,000  to $75,000 (71 to 74 days from Kathmandu, Nepal)

Total Guide Fees Cost: $160,000 and up

Gear and Clothing

You’re going to need a lot of specialized gear like crampons and ice axe, as well as lots of warm clothes to protect you from extremely cold temperatures that can dip as low as -70 F. In other words, you’re not going to get by with three pairs of shorts, two Hawaiian shirts, a Patagonia raincoat, and a pair of hiking boots from Kohls. Check your guide service for a complete list of your personal gear. Take a basic list of what you'll need and then look for the best equipment and clothing, budget be damned. Don't skimp on your gear. Remember, you're worth it.

  • Total Gear Cost: $13,000

Basic Training Courses

Okay, the guides are not going to carry you up any of the mountains so before you go you’re going to have to acquire some basic mountaineering skills and learn how to use all the tools like an ice axe, crampons, and ascenders. The best thing is to take a series of comprehensive courses, which will cost you some serious cash. Again, don't skimp and think you know it all. If you do, better ask yourself how much your life is worth.

  • Total Training Costs: $5,500

Airfare to Seven Summits

You’re not going to be able to drive to any of the Seven Summits from the United States. Well, maybe you can drive within walking distance of Denali, but for the rest, you’re going to have to fly. And the flights are not going to be cheap since you’re going to fly to your jumping-off point at some of the world's most remote places like Punta Arenas and Kathmandu.

Do you have enough air miles for free trips, or do you have your own private jet rated for international flights? If not, the air prices depend on how savvy a traveler you are at finding bargain basement airfares; when you’re traveling; and where you’re leaving from. Taking a look at average round-trip airfares to your seven destinations from New York City, the most expensive flights are to Katmandu, Nepal, while the cheapest ones are to Anchorage, Alaska. Most of the fares are between $1,000 and $2,000 and are economy class. If you’re Mr. Rich Guy, though, you probably don’t care what the air cost is and you’re planning on traveling first-class all the way with champagne, pre-cooked chicken dinners, and personal stewardesses. Gotta get all the perks because it isn’t going to be so plush on the mountains.

  • Total Airfare Costs: $21,500

The Grand Total

So what’s it going to cost you to climb all Seven Summits?

  • Grand Total Cost: $200,000 and up

Save Some Cash for Tips, Taxis, and Trinkets

Of course, that figure doesn’t include all the other money you’ll be spending on celebratory dinners, trinkets for the kids and wife/husband back home, satellite calls when you’re homesick, taxi rides, hotel rooms, and those oh-so-important tips for your guides. Good luck. Let us know how it all works out for you and where we can cut the budget!