How Much Money to do the Seven Summits?

This is a continuation of an idea presented in my previous article on How Long to Do the Seven Summits HERE

First of all, let’s look at some average prices for each of the Seven Summits. These are generally taken from major, well-established guide companies. Some could be more or less depending on your own abilities to take care of yourself within limits established by local governments, as well as finding your way around in a foreign country and reading between the lines to hook up with local small guide and logistics companies.

Kilimanjaro Summit - 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 - I"m in orange

Kilimanjaro Summit – 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 – I”m in orange

That was a mouthful for sure, but basically, most normal people will be with a major guide company.

  • Everest: $70,000
  • Vinson: $50,000
  • Carstensz: $15,000
  • Denali: $10,000
  • Aconcagua: $6,000
  • Kilimanjaro: $5,000
  • Elbrus: $4,000
  • Kosciusko: $1,000

Note that none of these include airfare, and are otherwise about mid range for that mountain. You could go cheaper or more expensive, but this is a decent average.

If you go for all 8 of the 7 Summits, you’re looking at $161,000. Add in some airfare and other miscellaneous fees, and it’s going to be another $25,000 or so bringing the total to $186,000.

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

I don’t know much about your life, but let’s assume for a second that you are able to put away $1,000 each and every month. You could do it then with about 182 months of savings. A little over 15 years. Not bad. Add in the year or two that you’re actually off to the mountains, so about 17 years.

How in the world do people do it if they’re not on the 17 year plan?

  1. Have a really really good job
  2. Trust fund “kids”
  3. Live off charity
  4. Become a guide
  5. Mortgage your, or your parents’ house

I know people in each of those groups. The most successful, oddly enough, seem to be group 3, though they are really quiet about that, since it would turn off the flow of donations. Since the mortgage “bust” 5 is a lot less lucrative than it used to be, since back in the “boom” banks would go out 140% of the value of your house with a 5 year balloon, even without equity and a current loan, no matter how silly the use of the money would be. Hence the “bust” that resulted.

Seven Summits Quest - Volume 5 - South America - from Aconcagua Base Camp

Seven Summits Quest – Volume 5 – South America – from Aconcagua Base Camp

Now for reality

Yeah, you need to get that really really good job. Or hook up with someone who has an inside track on discounted, yet reputable guides and logistics operators in the area of your summit.

While I usually try not to toot my own horn, I do have a Full Service trip to Aconcagua for about 30% off the usual price of such a trip HERE and I have an Aconcagua Light Package for about half what others charge HERE.

Fill out the form (upper right side) and I’ll send you more info about my trips as I put them together. Kili and Everest Base Camp coming soon.

It’s well worth taking a quick look at to see if you can pull it off in 2015. To be honest, it’s an experiment, and if no one takes me up on the offer I might not be able to do it in 2016. So if you can adjust your schedule at all, let’s go to Aconcagua this February.

Seven Summits Quest Volume 5 – South America

If we do go, I’ll be working on that continuation of my successful book series, and you could be taking a part in it, with or without a pseudonym. Up to you …

Here’s a video I made to introduce it to my Kickstarter Project HERE

 

 

 

 

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How Long to do the Seven Summits?

What is the average time to do the Seven Summits?

I was asked that question by a Facebook Fan HERE. My quick and simple answer is “About Ten Years” but that’s not really doing the question justice.

 

Aconcagua in storm

Aconcagua in storm

If we remove all other factors, here is a list of the Seven Summits and the standard number of days that a professional guide service lists for the itineraries.

  • Kosciuszko- 3 days
  • Kilimanjaro – 7 days
  • Elbrus – 8 days
  • Carstensz – 9 days
  • Vinson 21 days
  • Denali – 21 days
  • Aconcagua – 21 days
  • Everest – 65 days

If you allow about 4 days of back to back flying for each expedition that adds up to 155 days of expedition and 32 days of traveling for all 8 of the 7 Summits. That’s 187 days. Yep, only 6+ months.

 

Todd Gilles and myself acclimatizing for Elbrus Race 2013

Todd Gilles and myself acclimatizing for Elbrus Race 2013

How fast can the Seven Summits be done?

Sadly, each of these has seasons that are good and bad, work and don’t work, and weather can be an issue or not. Here’s a potential itinerary that gets them all done in a very compressed amount of time.

  • January: Vinson
  • February: Aconcagua
  • March: Kilimanjaro, Carstensz, and Kosciuszko
  • April & May: Everest
  • June: Denali
  • July Elbrus

So that’s a Seven Summits in Seven Months Itinerary. If you attempt this, please let me know. I totally want to follow your progress. With a bit more risk and cleverness you could knock off a month, but it greatly decreases the odds of success.

Kilimanjaro Summit - 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 - I"m in orange

Kilimanjaro Summit – 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 – I”m in orange

Is this speed itinerary realistic?

Unfortunately, with an itinerary this tight, you’d need to be a semi-robotic automaton and have everything handed to you at each and every step of the way. All your visa’s, all your travel, all your baggage, everything, would have to be handled by someone else. Believe me, you probably can’t do it 100% alone on this tight of an itinerary.

Carstensz Pyramid Summit Shot

Carstensz Pyramid Summit Shot

It would also require that you have a boatload of cash and a bottomless credit card. Doing it this quickly requires that you pay a lot of people a lot of money to make sure that everything happens as planned without error.

You also have to be in top physical condition and able to recover very quickly from all the stress of travel and mountaineering and trekking. You cannot get sick or weak or injured on an itinerary this tight.

Myself and Todd Gilles Orizaba Summit Thumbs Up

Myself and Todd Gilles Orizaba Summit Thumbs Up

Stay tuned for another article about this

I’ll be writing another article soon taking a more realistic approach to an itinerary that allows time to solve all those problems. Stay tuned. Subscribe (to the right) if you want to make sure you’re notified when I write it.

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TP-101 – Toilet Paper for Hiking etc.

Toilet Paper

It’s a necessity. Sure, I’ve used snow and leaves before. You have too, right? To be honest, there’s almost nothing as much fun as a chunk of solid styrofoam neve as toilet paper. You think I’m kidding?

Toilet Paper for hiking - two plastic bags and a little roll

Toilet Paper for hiking – two plastic bags and a little roll

You’ll want to carry the smallest lightest bit of toilet paper you can get away with, unless you’re on a porter or sled supported trip, then you take the whole roll. In the pic above, I have a ziplock baggie, with another ziplock baggie to put inside for the dirty used toilet paper. If you follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles MORE INFO you won’t want to be leaving your toilet paper anywhere outdoors. The stuff seems to last forever. Even in the Papuan Jungle there were old bits and pieces left over from previous Westerners.

Getting that little roll off of a big roll can be a challenge for some people. I know of people who go to a gas station or NFS bathroom and carefully unroll it off the big roll onto the little roll. That’s a real pain. I prefer to just save the ends of the rolls, when it becomes about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick on the cardboard tube and stick them in a plastic bag in the back of the closet until I need them for a trip.

End rolls of toilet paper in a plastic bag waiting to be converted into hiking toilet paper small rolls

End rolls of toilet paper in a plastic bag waiting to be converted into hiking toilet paper small rolls

Over the years I have developed a little trick in which I squeeze and fold the paper tube liner until I can twist it out, leaving a small roll of toilet paper ready to go. Some toilet paper is glued onto the tube pretty firmly, so you’d have to slide your fingers around inside a little bit more to free the end. You can then put the resulting thin small roll of toilet paper inside your plastic bag for your hike, backpacking trip, or whatever it is you’ll need to do.

Two mini rolls from two end rolls of toilet paper. The tubes were folded and pulled out. Note that one has some paper still glued firmly to it.

Two mini rolls from two end rolls of toilet paper. The tubes were folded and pulled out. Note that one has some paper still glued firmly to it.

When I’m on an overnight or longer, I typically keep my plastic bags and mini roll inside whatever layer I’ll almost always have on. If I’m wearing a base layer with a Napoleon pocket, that’s a great place. If I have a puffy jacket that I’ll most likely put on before a trip to the “outhouse” I’ll keep it in there. I want it as close to me at all times as possible. You hate to get there and discover you forgot it.

Here’s a video showing the trick to get the tube out of your toilet paper

[vimeo 110856786]

If you have a better way, please leave a comment or better yet, post a video link for us. I’d love to get your opinion on this. Thanks!

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Quandary in Snowstorm

October 27, 2014

Last night my wife suggested I do Quandary. It had been a couple months since last time and a few months longer before that. I checked the weather on Mountain-Forecast.com:

Quandary Weather near the bridge

Quandary Weather near the bridge

Quandary Weather at the summit

Quandary Weather at the summit

Looked like it was going to be really cold and windy and a bit overcast. I gathered up a few of the things I would be taking, including my Suunto Ambit 2S and my Salomon Spikecross shoes. I had seem some beta pics on Grays that implied there would be a fair amount of snow up high and I hadn’t used these shoes in a while. Strava says I only had 15 miles on them, but it’s probably more like 100 with all the winter summits I did do in them previous to Strava.

My daughter was already in bed, and I keep a lot of my stuff in her closet, so it would keep till morning. At least in winter you don’t have to beat the lightning. The next morning it was snowing hard. I got the rest of my gear together and dressed then took the kids to school and continued on to the Quandary parking lot. I followed a snowplow much of the way. I assumed they were going to work on Hoosier Pass, because the road was pretty slick. Quandary was socked in good, from this pic at the pull-off near the other road in.

Quandary from the pull-off on Hwy 9

Quandary from the pull-off on Hwy 9

At the parking lot I put on the HR belt and it took a good 10 minutes for the Suunto to pick up a GPS signal. Later I heard from a few friends who also had GPS acquisition issues today, so not sure if it was the weather or the system. For pants, I was wearing a pair of UnderArmour briefs, a pair of REI fleece tights (my favorites for cabin wear on expeditions) and some Pearl Izumi cycling wind/water shell pants. They’re really light and flexible and I wanted to test them out under stress today.

Where the rubber meets the trail - Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes

Where the rubber meets the trail – Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes

As I mentioned previously, I was wearing my Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes. They have carbide spikes that I feel work a bit better than Kahtoola on the rocky sections of the trail on Quandary. Under them I had my classic combo of Injinji liners (the really thin ones) under Point6 Summit Mountaineering Wool Socks (Eddie Bauer brand). I normally don’t wear gaiters if I can help it, though I do have some Mont Bell softshell running ones that I wear now and then.

 

Trailhead sign for Quandary. Still accessible by road

Trailhead sign for Quandary. Still accessible by road

Up top I had on a Columbia Omniheat (reflective) zip turtleneck and a Salomon hybrid softshell/fleece jacket under an OR Goretex jacket. My gloves were a home-brewed combo of Columbia Omniheat Cell-compatible liners inside Mountain Hardwear mountaineering shells. For a hat I’m wearing an Icebreaker beanie (very thin) under a Salomon Swag Cap. Yeah, Swag as in they gave it to me at the finish line of a 10K run. I also have a buff on, though I wasn’t able to locate one of my favorites that I think is in my ice climbing backpack.

Near the bridge, nearly halfway and from here the swirling maelstrom of snowstorm is just visible at tree line

Near the bridge, nearly halfway and from here the swirling maelstrom of snowstorm is just visible at tree line

I wasn’t moving too fast, with a target of about 2 hours for the summit so I didn’t sweat too bad, though I did open up the neck of the two outer layers and the pit zips on the Goretex.

View of the upper layers if you're interested. This is still at the Trail Restoration sign near the bridge. Later in the winter the trail takes off from here straight up that hill

View of the upper layers if you’re interested. This is still at the Trail Restoration sign near the bridge. Later in the winter the trail takes off from here straight up that hill

When I got to tree line, just about 12,000′ I switched the Goretex out for a Mont Bell puffy synthetic jacket and cinched up the hood. It was really windy and cold and blowing snow pelting me. I’d say that 35-40 MPH wind forecast was about right. I passed a couple struggling near the top of the point at about 12,600′ and after a while looked back and didn’t see them. There had been three sets of footprints on the way up and one was still barely visible ahead of me and I followed it up the regular summer trail which was still easy to follow.

As I passed the flats at 13,300′ it became much rougher going with snow drifted in between the boulders making for difficult footing. Your foot would either hit wind crust and stick, hit crust and punch through into the boulders, or slide down into the powder and bounce around in the boulders until  you either stuck or fell.

At about 13,700′ I saw the owner of the third set of footprints heading down from way off to the North, angling back onto the trail. That implied the trail was hard to follow up high. I’d have to remember that. I ran into her after a bit.

“Windy” nodding her head up.

“Yeah” just nodding

And that was all we had the energy to say in the blustery day on Quandary.

Quandary Summit after 2:45 from the lower parking lot. Very difficult conditions and bad weather.

Quandary Summit after 2:45 from the lower parking lot. Very difficult conditions and bad weather.

Finally after 2:45 I got to the summit. 45 minutes later than goal, but the conditions were pretty bad and I had to face out of the wind braced on my poles several times to stay upright in some of the worst gusts. I made a short video on top then took off for the bottom without eating or drinking. I did that on the way down once I was out of the wind. Footing was even worse on the way down so it was slow going until I got down below about 12,000′ and then it was pretty quick.

So I’m back in training for mountaineering and have plans for some cool objectives coming up. As soon as any of them get past the “how much, what dates, how many climbers” etc I’ll let you all know. Subscribe to the newsletter if you want to be among the first to know.

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Elbrus Race 2014

So, Elbrus Race. Obviously I didn’t go. Just as obviously it didn’t happen.

A friend on the Front Range took a group to Elbrus during the race at my recommendation and they had a blast with Nick and the rest of the gang. But they didn’t summit. Their pictures and video from 18,000′ are insane! Wish I had permission to show you some.

There’s a pic from Elbrus Race from the organizer. So in the big scheme of things, if I were doing the race I wouldn’t have gotten my summit. But the day before was amazingly blue sky gorgeous. A part of me thinks I might have gone that day and finally gotten it out of the way. I hope I can go next year.

I finally got my passport straightened out, got my invitation and voucher for a new set of dates, and then had a terrible time getting flights lined up that fit those dates, and then couldn’t get to the visa center in time to get my visa processed in the dates available. It was a mess from the beginning. I suppose that the second the lady at the visa center said my papers were out of order I should have just quit while I was ahead.

Kilian wasn’t there either, so I’m not sure what his plans are for Elbrus. It’s on his list.

I did get a lot of work done though, including two published books, one on training for hiking HERE and one on self-help finding time to train HERE – both have done awesome so I recommend you go check them out.

 

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