Guides, porters, gear, permits, grub, oxygen, flights… we all know it costs an absolute fortune to climb an eight-thousander, but just how much does it cost to climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, widely considered to be not only the most difficult but also ‘the mountaineers’ mountain’?
In this article, I’m going to take you through a breakdown of the costs, right down to the boots on your feet and itty-bitties of visas and transport.
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- Zuckerman, Peter (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 320 Pages - 05/03/2013 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)
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1. Permit – $1,200
The cost for a permit to climb K2 from the Pakistani side is a relatively cheap $7,200 per team of seven climbers and $1,200 per additional climber. At present, a permit for Everest from the Nepalese side of the mountain stands at around $10,000-20,000, depending on the size of the team. K2, comparatively speaking, is a bargain!
Climbers wishing to tackle the ‘savage mountain’ independently can usually manage to attach themselves to an existing party, using that team’s permit purely for bureaucratic purposes and to dodge the wrath – and fines! – of the Pakistani government.
2. Guide/Team Leader/Liaison Officer/Porters – $5,000
While there are no spoon-feeding guide services on K2 like you find on Everest, each team must have a team leader and Pakistani Army Liaison officer at basecamp to co-ordinate the climb and take responsibility for all decision-making from the gear used right up to the route climbed.
The cost of this leader and the liaison officer is obviously shared across the team of climbers on the group permit but even in a team of ten you’ll need around $5,000, which will cover:
- Helicopter rescue deposit
- Government royalty fee
- Pakistani Army Liaison Officer
- Regular porters and high-altitude porters (HAPs)
3. Gear – $5,000
With a pair of high-altitude mitts alone costing as much as $700, high-altitude boots up to $1,500 and down suits up to $3,000, there really isn’t a bargain basement feel to shopping for this type of climb!
In addition, you’ll need to factor in the cost of ropes, tents, sleeping bags, cams, ice-axes and whatever else you don’t have, all of which could add up to another cool grand or two in expenditure.
4. Oxygen – $4,000
Although many climbers choose to tackle K2 without the use of supplementary oxygen, the chances are you’ll want to have a few bottles in case of difficulties or your acclimatization program hits a snag.
At about $600 per bottle and with the regulator costing another $500, this could mean up to another $4,000-5,000 should you choose to go down the oxygen route.
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- DEAD MOUNTAIN
- Eichar, Donnie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
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5. Grub – $750
How big’s your appetite? Even if you have the appetite of a sparrow, with the trip lasting at least three weeks and freeze-dried meals coming at a premium, you should factor in a good $750 minimum to keep your tummy happy. This is no time to be going on a diet or counting calories…
6. Transport – $2,500
Depending on where you are in the world and what time of year you choose to fly, getting to K2 basecamp can be a costly business. Coming from the US, you can count on a bare minimum of $2,500 for the flight to Islamabad and then transfer to Askole, where you’ll begin the trek to K2’s basecamp.
7. Sundries – $800
To visit Pakistan, you’ll need an up-to-date passport, visa and several immunizations. MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, flu, hepatitis A, typhoid, malaria, yellow fever and rabies immunizations are, depending on your country of origin, all required by the Pakistani government prior to entering the country.
Depending on how many of these inoculations you already have, you could be looking at spending another $800 just to get past the starting point, tick the bureaucratic boxes and keep yourself healthy.
Conclusion and Grand Total
Climbing K2 is no cake-walk and adding up the various expenses you’ll most likely require to take on this beast of a peak goes to show that it’s no cheap date either!
Although you may well be able to save on some of the items included in our list depending on where you live, what gear you already have and whether or not you choose to climb using supplementary oxygen, a mountain like K2 is absolutely no place to be scrimping on essentials and each individual climber should budget for around $20,000 in order to do the climb as safely and comfortably as possible.
I hope you’ve been saving…!