Selected Notes About High Altitude Mountaineering
By Carlos Buhler

a) About twelve months are necessary to plan and organize an expedition to the Himalayan or Karakoram Mountains.

b) An average expedition to a peak in Asia will need approximately 50 to 70 days to complete.

c) The percentage of successful expeditions(those that achieve their climbing objective) to the larger peaks in Asia is less than 50%. Since most of the expeditions attempt well known peaks, by relatively easy routes, the percentage of successes for difficult ascents (i.e. new routes in good style) is probably no more than 10-15% of attempts.

d) Expeditions generally require a 1.5 to 2.5 month supply of food, fuel and equipment to be transported to the base camp. A typical "small" expedition of four members will require anywhere between 40 and 60 porters to carry 2400 to 3600 pounds of gear to their base camp.

e) Approximately one out of every 30 climbers dies each year in the expeditions going to Asia.

f) The most dangerous and difficult summits on the planet are climbed very seldom. They are usually very technical climbs in remote areas where weather conditions are unstable. However, it is impossible to name the one most difficult mountain. The style of the ascent must be considered in order appreciate the overall difficulty of the climb. Where one ascent of a mountain might be considered spectacular, another climb of the same peak, might be nothing out of the ordinary. Apart from the style considerations, altitude, technical difficulty, size, weather conditions, and objective danger all contribute to give a mountain route it's overall difficulty rating.

g) Going to the top of one of the great peaks requires enormous physical and mental stamina. The body protests under conditions of low oxygen. Above 24,000 feet, the cells cannot get enough oxygen to survive for long. Signals from the brain instruct body systems to preserve what little strength they have. Dehydration robs the body of it's ability to perform normal chemical activities. The result is finding the mental energy to push the body to perform at the high level required for climbing and survival. Above 26,000 feet, I estimate only about 50 % of the energy the body produces is available for anything besides survival. Above 27,000 feet this is reduced to 40%. Above 28,000 feet, probably only 30% of energy is available. Given the cold, and additional stresses of the environment, these figures are reduced even further.

h) Dehydration, Hypoxia, Hypoglycemia, Hypothermia, and lack of deep sleep, are key difficulties and concerns at high altitude.

i) Budgets for a Himalayan Expedition cover a wide range. A small two person expedition to a peak may cost as little as $7000.00 or as much as $25,000.00 depending on the approach, the style, and the personal preferences of the team. In general, I find that the average cost to climb in Asia is between $3500 and $10,000.00 per person for the entire expedition. A real consideration today is the price of the peak permit paid to the governments of the Asian countries in which the peak is located. These fees range from under one thousand dollars, for a small peak of 6000 meters, to Everest, which costs about $12,000.00 per climber today.