The Khumbu region is teeming with trekkers, but this season has seen a drop in mountaineering expeditions on Sagarmatha. The reason is simple: everyone loves a bargain and expeditions find it cheaper to climb from the Tibet side. Nepal charges a team of seven Everest expeditioners $70,000 as royalty. Individual climbers are required to pay $25,000. Even after paying that sum, they need to pay $2,500 separately for using the route between the Khumbu Icefall and the second camp on Everest. Add to that the expense of guides, porters, logistics and a liaison officer?who must be provided with everything from food to clothes?and the bill soars.
Everest from the China side costs a flat fee of $4,500. That covers not only the permit for the expedition but also includes the expense for Chinese liaison officers and the Himalayan beast of burdens, yaks. Little wonder then, that while Tibet has nearly two dozen expedition teams for Everest this season, Nepal has only nine.