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Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

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Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Murph1 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:10 am

I am amazed at how many individuals on the net are off climbing almost every year to remote locations worldwide! I can understand how professional guides, sponsored by firms like North Face can spend each year on expeditions to Antarctica or the Hindu Kush, but there are many individuals who post that seem to find the $40,000 to go to the Polar Regions, or $60,000 to try ascents in Tibet, or other remote areas.
In all my 58 years of climbing I never found that kind of money or time to run off to places I read about. Are you people out there independently wealthy, have professions paying you $200,000+ a year, or are you robbing banks in your spare time? :)
If you are married I suspect that either your spouse is very broad minded about your leisure pastime, accompanies you because they love the same pastime, or has a lover on the side while you are off to Baffin Island or Pantagonia. :wink:
Between working in logging to pay my way through college, raising a family, military service, and being an educator for thirty two years I never could find more than three weeks at a time to be off climbing, and never enough money to take off to anywhere outside the U.S. and Canada.
What are your secrets for participating in multiple expeditions to the far reaches of the world! :?:
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Scott » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:09 pm

Whom is it you are referring to?

I can understand how professional guides, sponsored by firms like North Face can spend each year on expeditions to Antarctica or the Hindu Kush, but there are many individuals who post that seem to find the $40,000 to go to the Polar Regions, or $60,000 to try ascents in Tibet, or other remote areas.


Names? There might be some (but many?), but I don’t know any active members on this site that can spend $40,000 to go to them or $60,000. There are people that go to those places, but I don’t know of any that are spending that kind of money.

Later this year, I’m taking my second trip to the Himalaya, but I plan on it costing $2,000 including airfare. Last trip (47 days) cost $1900 including airfare.

Other places we can get free plane tickets (putting all the bills on a miles card, but paying it off every month).

If I were climbing bigger mountains, it would cost more money, but I don’t think many members on SP are going on $60,000 expeditions. Do you have any names?

I know one member who has been on several expensive expeditions (namely Everest), but he seems to be an exception to the rule.

The one member I know of that has frequented the Antarctica regions led guided trips there or went on some sponsored climbs. I can’t think of that many active SP members who fork out $40,000 for an expedition, so am puzzled as to all these people you are referring to.

Between working in logging to pay my way through college, raising a family, military service, and being an educator for thirty two years I never could find more than three weeks at a time to be off climbing, and never enough money to take off to anywhere outside the U.S. and Canada.


I grew up in a low income neighborhood, got married as a teenager, paid for my own college, have kids, etc. and many of us are in the same boat, so don't really know what you are referring to.

Other than airfare, usually it is cheaper to travel outside Canada and the US (at least most places with big mountains) than it is within those countries. In Peru for example, we were paying $5 a night for our bed and breakfast and that included two meals. Most of South America is cheap (not Patagonia).

Places like Southeast Asia are even cheaper.

Nepal and India are actually very cheap unless you climb 8000 meter peaks or go on guided expeditions. China costs fluctuates with the political situation and whether or not you can travel cheaply. It varies from very cheap to expensive, depending on the political situation at the time.

Most polar regions are expensive, but it still doesn’t cost $40,000 to go there.

Where are you getting your figures and whom are you referring to?
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Murph1 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:12 am

Didn't have any particular person or persons in mind Scott, but getting to places like Baffin Island and Antarctica do cost big bucks. I have priced flights and water transport to such places and it taint cheap. With all the people lined up to go to Everest the fees are extreme both in Nepal and Tibetan China and other 8,000 meter peaks are becoming expensive to.
I am glad to know that you have found ways to climb in out of the way places for reasonable prices. If you can make it to Nepal and back including your air and on ground expenses for forty plus days on $2,000 you have my admiration.
The purpose of my question was to find out what the non professional climbers out there do to go to remote areas I used the high end extremes on prices for effect because I knew it would bring a response. You might note by my On Line Name that I am Irish! We have been known to "elaborate" our stories a wee bit!
Thanks for the response and I hope your trip back to the Himalayas is a great success!
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby CClaude » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:25 am

Time and money are two different question, usually but not always in direct conflict.

For me, I gave up a larger paycheck in san francisco to a good paycheck in Flagstaff, with good access to climbing. In Flagstaff, I have given up the 12-16hr days at work, for a reasonable work schedule, whereas I I can get out climbing and spend a lot of time with my girls. Although the work days are more reasonable I will often do some computer work for work after my girls have gone to sleep.

As for money for international trips.

Myself will be going to Patagonia in the winter and Peru in the summer. Time is the most difficult thing since I am a single father for two girls, since I also need to get them on a beach vacation for 4-5 days and other trips with them.

as for costs. I usually use miles (points) with airlines to pay for my airline tickets (both trips next year will be on points). I have credit cards with the airlines I use for climbing, and I also use them for business. I also couple my hotel with my airline points, so when I stay at hotels for work, it accumulates points for airlines. Like Scott, I use my airline credit cards for everything, but pay them off every month so I don't pay interest. I try not to pay interest on anything (except my mortgage).

As Scott says, when you are in country, the costs are usually obscenely cheap. Usually, the most expensive cost is the collectivo's. I usually don't hire arrerios, since I can and am more then willing to carry my own loads. I once hired an arrerio in Peru,and in Nepal I had two porters to carry a months worth of stuff, but thats it.

As Scott says, stay away from the Big 3 in the Himalayas and away from the 8000m peaks and peak permits are relatively cheap in Nepal (and many of the peaks are a lot less crowded and more interesting).
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Andinistaloco » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:21 am

Looks like some folks have already touched on it, but it all depends on where you go. I went climbing in Bolivia for a month and it cost me about $400 beyond the airfare. Meals out in town were about $1... in the mountains, far less. Hotels around $6/night, in the mountains, nada. I agree if you want to do Everest or Vinson or something you're going to pay, but there are plenty of places you can go - particularly in south america - where the mountains are just as beautiful and difficult and the cost is about a hundredth as much....
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Kessler » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:30 am

This is actually Scott, but I can't post on the forum under my own profile (SP is having problems). Anyway....

Didn't have any particular person or persons in mind Scott, but getting to places like Baffin Island and Antarctica do cost big bucks.


Yes, but typically not $40,000-$60,000. Baffin Island cost about $2200 to get to from several major cities in the United States. The boat ride isn’t that expensive to get to the trailhead for Asgard, for example. Also, how many SP members have been to Baffin Island? The page maintainer of most of the pages there hasn’t been there and no one has added any trip reports or summit logs. Where are you getting the idea that a bunch of SP members are getting to go to Baffin Island?

The people that I know who climbed in Antarctica (which isn’t that many) spent $5,000, which yes is a chunk of change. Vinson is expensive and a lot more than that.

Damien has been to Antarctica many times and guided there as well and would know how much certain places cost to get to.

The statement of there are many individuals who post that seem to find the $40,000 to go to the Polar Regions, or $60,000 to try ascents in Tibet, or other remote areas doesn’t seem to be accurate at all. Very few SP members have been to Antarctica. I can think of one SP member that might fit in that category (Alan on Everest), but I believe he was sponsored.

With all the people lined up to go to Everest the fees are extreme both in Nepal and Tibetan China and other 8,000 meter peaks are becoming expensive to.


Here is a cut and paste I made for typical cost to certain peaks. Unless you are talking about something like Everest or Vinson fully guided, the prices aren’t even close to what you are quoting, even if some are expensive.

Unless you are somehow sponsored, 8000 meter peaks require both a fair amount of time and money investment. Think at least $8000-$9000, much more for peaks like Everest and much more fully guided. Time wise, you are looking at at least 6 weeks (closer to 7 with travel time) for any 8000 meter peaks.

6000 and 7000 meter peaks can be done for much cheaper. Time wise, you could do a 6000 meter peak in two weeks including travel and acclimatization time (but I'd much prefer to travel at least three to make paying the airfare worth it, though I have done Chimborazo and surrounding peaks on a two week trip). For 7000 meter peaks, you are looking at close to a month or more.

There are many 6000 meter peaks that you could do for less than $1500 incuding airfare, all transportation, food, etc. In fact, back when I used to get several months off a year (those days are long gone), I found that once I bought a plane ticket, it was actually cheaper to go out and travel while climbing mountains than it was to stay home in the US. Even when the cost of a plane ticket was taken in account, it was still about the same price as staying home (for example our entire trip to Asia/Himlalayas cost a total of $1900 for 47 days, including everything-even shopping).

For a 7000 meter peak, you are probably realistically looking at something in the $3000 range, but higher if you go fully guided (cheapest fully guided, you are probably looking closer to $5000(maybe a little less) including all airfare, etc.

When airfare is taken in account, the least expensive areas to climb 6000 meter peaks are Ecuador (they only have one), Peru, Bolivia, Nepal and India. Even if you went fully guided, you could easily have a choice of selecting 6000 meter peaks for under $2000, inclusive of everything including airfare. Chile and Argentina tend to be a bit more expensive and airfares have been almost as high as getting to Nepal or India, but still fairly reasonable.

The least expensive areas to climb 7000 meter peaks would be parts of Nepal, India and the former Republics of the USSR. Lenin Peak is probably the least expensive of all the more accessible peaks and one that you can do in just under a month including travel time.

PS, we're headed back to Nepal later this year. Anyone is welcome to join us. It's probably going to end up costing around $2000, including airfare for our month long trip. My son is begging to let him climb a 6000 meter peak, but we may be doing a 5800 meter one instead and I don't know if I want him to go higher. He's been trying to convince me by beating his dad to the top of all the mountains we climb, but still, I'm not sold on letting him try a peak that high yet.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby sharperblue » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:01 pm

South America keeps getting mentioned, so I can place some actual numbers on a typical climbing trip to the Cordillera Blanca or Huayhuash in Peru:

-airfare from San Francisco CA to Lima, non-stop round-trip US $1,100
-bus trip first class from Lima to Huaraz, 8 hours US $55 round-trip
-excellent accommodation in town with private bath & breakfast: $33/night (usually take 4 nights - 2 on the way in and 2 on the way out)
-Huascaran National Park pass good for 60 days $40
-Arriero and 2 donkeys to BC, typically about $20-35 depending on distance and valley
-food for 20-30 days in the field: $400

That will get you access to mixed ice and rock peaks up to 6700m, approach times of 1-4 days, the best ice climbing on earth, and nearly un-touched granite big walls, enormous FA potential, and few if any other parties on the vast majority of peaks and targets.

By far the most expensive piece of any bigger trip is of course the initial investment in gear, most of not all of which is hopefully already in the gear closet.

As for time, in the United States, we get put on a terrorist watch list if we step outside the corporate line of ten days vacation each year (seriously, that is the US industry standard - no joke) but that's a personal choice most sad people just get sold. It's just not that hard to wrestle out two or even three times that much, even if it's unpaid.

FWIW, I completely agree re the 7-8000m peaks; it's just plain nuts to pay that kind of money to climb; unless you're a height junkie, the potential on lower peaks is unlimited, and mostly free. The exception of course is G4 :)
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby CClaude » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:04 pm

As for tickets for south america,

Chile and Argentina are usually aound $1000 if you really look, more often then not if you just buy them about $1400. For Peru, if you REALLY look you can find them for $700, more often on a given day about 1000-1200.

Food for 20days in the field $400? No wonder I always loose quite a bit of weight. My bill for that is probably 1/4 of that maybe 1/2 if I'm really going in luxury...
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby fatdad » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:19 am

The big issue that most have not addressed is how you get the time for extended 4-6 weeks trips. I've had the cash for such ventures when I was working but never had a job that permitted that kind of time off. My entire life has been plagued by the money but no time/time but no money dichotomy. The only time I've been able to taken an extended trip (10 weeks in Asia) was after quitting a good paying job and leaving before I had a chance to get nervous abo it my next gig. Of course none of my partners were free to climb so it was more of a tourist/trekking trip.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Scott » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:04 am

The big issue that most have not addressed is how you get the time for extended 4-6 weeks trips


It can be tough.

The days are long gone for me, but I used to work on road constuction projects (in the engineering field). We used to work 80, sometimes 100 hours a week during the warmer part of the year. The plus side was we got the winter, or at least most of the winter off. If you go for an extended period of time, it was as cheap to buy a plane ticket and go somewhere cheap that it was to stay in the US.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Baarb » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:34 pm

A lot of my trips to mountainous areas in the last few years have been for research work and have been funded by various NSF grants. While these locales aren't comparable to the Karakorum etc. there are a number of jobs that can take one to the higher places of the world, be it academic, photographic, medical, NGO work etc. I just mention this as another way of getting out and about vs. the examples in the OP.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby fatdad » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:59 pm

I've done a ton of traveling, for which I'm really grateful. However, with that inability to find large chunks of time (along with a respectable partner to make use of it) in my earlier life, I kind of missed the boat on climbing in the Andes, Garwhal Himalaya, Alaska, etc. I'm nearing 50 now, have a wife and three young kids. I think that ship has sailed. Even if I could find the time, I wouldn't be able to accept the risk that I would not have questioned while younger.

I can still see the prospect of getting out and doing some easier summits like Huayna Potosi, Island Peak, etc., maybe climbing El Cap a few more times, but the gnarly stuff like Mt. Hunter, Bhagiraithi III, Changabang...not gonna happen. No real regrets though. Still, when you're young and available, if you have the chance get out there and make it happen.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Vitaliy M. » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:26 pm

The big issue that most have not addressed is how you get the time for extended 4-6 weeks trips.


You avoid becoming a fatdad : )

Good partners that are willing to do stuff I want to do is hard to find. I can count people I climb with and REALLY trust on one hand. Some don't even ice climb, and I would love to do some rock/ice routes outside of US. Enough time from work is also hard. They don't let us out for more than 3 weeks where I work. But a 2 week vacation in Bugaboos/Cascades this summer was awesome. 2 weeks 7 great routes on super awesome peaks. Hard to beat.
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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby SeanReedy » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:08 am

Interesting; South America is more within the realm of possibilities for my family than I had realized.


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Re: Where Do You Get the Time & Money for Those Expeditions?

Postby Murph1 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:04 am

My post generated what I wanted, a dialogue on how different individuals in the mountaineering world finance and make time for their trips to remote areas of the world.
I thought I would summurize some of the ways the non independently wealthy finance and find the time to go on mini expeditions:
Finding the Money to Go:
1. Some responders use their Credit Cards
to go, and pay the bill off before interest
is charged.
2. Although not stated, I sense that some
of the responders are frequent flyers and
either use their credit card points or
business flight points to pay for flights
3. Some responders travel in off season
4. All agree that going to the 8,000 meter
peaks, Antarctic Peaks, and places like
Baffin Island is financially out of the picture.
5. South American Andes peaks, and lower
peaks in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush
are very reasonable if you don't stay in
tourist hotels, and take the more expensive
airlines.
6. Although not stated by any responder traveling
on the country of destination's airline is usually
cheaper than other air flights
Finding the Time to Go:
1. One responder changed his life style in order
to get the time to go and still have time for
family.
2. Some responders took unpaid leave from their
work to go on trips.
3. Some responders have longer paid vacations
from work than the normal ten days a year.
4. Not stated but some individuals work outside
the U.S. and take leave while in country to
go climbing.
Finding time to go seems to be a bigger problem than financing a trip. Demands of family, work, and community commitments seem to deter some of us more than coming up with the money to travel to far off mountain ranges.
Thanks again for your responses!
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