Cost to climb Mount Everest and the seven peaks

Vivian James Rigney is no ordinary tourist.

Executive coach and speaker who has visited over 80 countries and lived on three continents.

He has also climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents, the so-called Seven Peaks.

It was a feat that took him 14 years – a feat that, he estimates, has been accomplished by less than 1,000 people.

And he did it despite being “afraid of heights,” he said.

In an interview with CNBC Travel, Rigney talked about what he learned — and how much it cost him — to achieve some of the highest scores on earth.

Cost to climb

Rigney estimates he was paid between $170,000 and $180,000 to climb the Seven Summits, he said.

“By far, Everest is the most expensive,” he said, adding that he paid about $80,000 climbing it in 2010.

“You have to save and plan,” he says. “That’s why it took me years. I started, then I went to business school, all my money went into it, then I started over, got a new job.. . Step by step, I gradually got over it.”

But there’s another cost — time not working, says Rigney. Luckily, he says, recruiters support his goals.

“If you have a good employer… they can see [personal goals] as something that can help lift the morale of the company,” he said.

From ‘easy’ to ‘extremely painful’

In addition to cost, Seven Summits vary considerably in climbing difficulty, Rigney said.

He said Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro was “easy”, calling it “technically unchallenging.”

But it’s high enough to feel altitude sickness, he says, which prevents some climbers from reaching the summit.

Kilimanjaro can be climbed in a week, he said. Antarctica’s Vinson Massif can take two weeks – “if you’re lucky” – and North America’s Denali three to four weeks.

But Mount Everest was a “huge logistical operation” that took about two months, he said. By far the most difficult and dangerous climb, he calls the experience “extremely painful.”

“Every cell in your body is saying you shouldn’t be here,” he said. “Your intuition is going bad.”

Rigney climbs Mount Everest about 4-5 hours a day. The rest of the time “you’re recuperating in your tent alone…no equipment, no internet…nothing.”

Courtesy of Inside Us LLC

He said he arrived “swelled and super fit.” Despite consuming 7,000 to 8,000 calories a day – mostly potatoes, pasta and dry food – he claims to have lost 20 pounds during his climb.

Keeping warm takes a tremendous amount of energy, he said. Everything froze, he said, including the LCD camera screen.

“We have what we call a pee bag. You pee in this bag, you seal it, and you put it in the sleeping bag with you because it’s warm.”

There are only about three to five days during the climbing season that climbers can reach the summit of Everest. If they do, it’s a quick win, Rigney said.

“People don’t hang around the conference for hours,” he said. “You can get down the mountain as fast as you can.”

From climbing to training

Rigney is now an executive coach and speaker, teaching company executives the lessons he’s learned from pushing himself, mentally and physically, to the limit.

He’s also the author of “Naked at the Knife’s Edge,” the book about how he used some of the toughest moments from his climb to Everest to achieve professional success.

Climbers don’t stay long once they reach Everest, says Rigney. “You can get down the mountain as fast as you can.”

Courtesy of Inside Us LLC

He says he helps “too much… [with] they think that “getting balance and breaking habits” pulls us along… as if we were on a conveyor belt. “

For example, the fear – whether it’s public speaking or his own agoraphobia – can be overcome by using tricks of the mind, he says.

And leaders must learn to accept things that are beyond their control, be it trauma or a pandemic, he said.

He said he still laughs at the thought of arriving at a small hangar in Kathmandu an hour before due to fly to the foothills of the Himalayas.

After climbing the “Seven Summits,” Rigney said he’s considering choosing less risky travel experiences. He said a few years ago he found a hobby that was both challenging and enjoyable: scuba diving.

Courtesy of Inside Us LLC

“I remember meeting this gentleman… and I said ‘Hey… what time do you think we’re leaving?'” Rigney said. “He said: ‘Maybe today, hopefully tomorrow, maybe over the weekend.”

Ten minutes later, another climber, who had a similar answer, exploded with anger, he said.

“Finally this guy looked over, his face was red with steam coming from his ears, and we were just howling. I think it worked out in the end – like this is where you are. Here It’s about the weather in the Himalayas!”

It’s just one of a long list of “things we can control and things we can’t,” Rigney said.


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