Incredible Mountain Climbs that Don't Cost a Fortune
By Katie Rosenbrock
October 05, 2015, 10:38:05 AM EDT
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We’re going to take a stab in the dark here, but if we had to guess, we’d bet you wouldn’t want to drop upwards of $30,000 to climb a mountain.
Not that mountain climbing isn’t incredible or unworthy of a significant investment -- it’s just, not everyone has a bank account substantial enough to fund a trek up a mountain like Everest, for example, which, depending on who you ask, can cost anywhere from $23,000 to $100,000.
This led us to wonder: what mountains can you climb at a cost that’s more attainable to the masses?
Turns out, there are many great options all around the world, so we turned to some experts not only for help with identifying them, but also to find out all the important details about each.
“There are endless options around the world for climbers not looking to break the bank,” said Jonathan Ronzio, director of the award-winning adventure documentary Between The Peaks and creator of the adventure travel blog, Explore Inspired. “Everest is really the outlier when you look at costs that can average $40 to 60k for the complete expedition. Whether you're after the Seven Summits, Colorado's 14ers, or New Hampshire’s 4,000-Footers, there are amazing mountains to climb for cheap -- sometimes as cheap as a $5 park entrance fee.”
Of course, the amount of money you’ll spend on a climb involves a few factors, including things like travel to and from the location and lodging, if needed. But ultimately, Ronzio said, it comes down to your experience level.
You have to consider whether or not you’ll need a guide, if you want to climb as part of a group expedition and what gear you’ll need to rent or buy.
“That's where the money starts piling up,” he said.
So, if you’ve got most of the gear you’ll need and have some experience under your belt, here are 10 incredible mountains you can climb without spending an almost unfathomable amount of money.
Mount Rainier -- Washington
If you wanted to climb with guides from Alpine Ascents, for example, a three-day Rainier expedition following the Muir Route would run you about $1,451, which includes: round-trip transportation from Seattle to the mountain; the NPS climbing and park entrance fee; a guides fee; dinners and breakfasts on the mountain; a pre-trip meeting and gear check; and group equipment (like tents, ropes and cooking gear). “With your plane ticket and perhaps a hotel stay in Seattle bookending the climbing days, you might be running almost $2,500 for the trip,” Ronzio explained. “Which in the scheme of Everest dollars is nothing and totally worth it.”
And if you plan to go it alone, you can spend far less. “My friends and I climbed the Muir route on Mount Rainier for about $450 a person,” Ronzio added. “That's the plane ticket, a hotel and the $15 park entrance fee. It's exponentially cheaper when you're not paying for guided expeditionary support.”
The White Mountains, Presidential Traverse — New Hampshire
“In the Northeast, you can take on the famously difficult Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire's White Mountains for free,” Ronzio said. “This 23-mile trek in the alpine zone knocks seven of New England's highest peaks with about 9,000 feet of elevation gain.” The Presidential Traverse, Ronzio explained, takes anywhere from one to three days, depending on your pace, so you can aim for a single-day climb or a multi-day trip. “Again, [it’s] totally free to go and do,” Ronzio said. “But I recommend paying $10 for a topo map.”
Mount Aconcagua -- Argentina
On a much larger scale, Ronzio points to Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua -- one of the Seven Summits and a 22,841-foot climb that can take up to 20 days to conquer. “On a 10-climber team with Alpine Ascents, you can bag this summit for $4,600 plus round-tip airfare to Mendoza,” Ronzio said. “Without a guided company, the cost is looking closer to $1,500 plus airfare. A climbing permit for Aconcagua in the high season is $945, and then you buy food and fuel, and you're probably going to want to hire at least one mule to help carry supplies to basecamp. That gets you close to $1,500 and that's about what I spent.” If you don’t have mountaineering experience, though, Ronzio said spending an extra few thousand dollars for the assurance and safety of a guide is absolutely worth it, if not essential. “Especially when you look at the fact that a single climbing permit on Everest is $11,000 to start out,” he said.
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