Paul Hamilos examines the high cost of climbing Mount Everest
There are two kinds of fool, apparently: those who never climb Mount Everest and those who do it twice. Sir Chris Bonnington, 64, is presumably one of the latter, having just failed in his latest assault on the 29,028ft summit. Numerous companies now offer guided climbs up Everest, while the Nepalese government charges astronomical peak fees to everyone who proceeds beyond Base Camp. In addition to a healthy bank balance, you will need a good pair of lungs and a body able to meet this most gruelling of challenges. Don't be too daunted, however: 49-year-old Tom Whittaker from Wales reached the summit in May despite only having one foot. And even journalists have now staked their claim - step forward The Independent's very own Stephen Goodwin, who entertained and alarmed readers with a diary of his climb earlier this year. You have been warned ...

Height of fashion UV glasses, pounds 80; fleece hat, pounds 15; balaclava, pounds 20; thermal top (no, not the sort your granddad wears), pounds 30; fleece jacket, pounds 100; waterproofs, pounds 500; down suit, pounds 400; lightweight Acti-vent windsuit, pounds 150; fleece sallopets, pounds 100; glove liners, pounds 5; fleece gloves, pounds 25; down mitts, pounds 100; thermal long johns, pounds 20; sock liners, pounds 5; thermal socks, pounds 15; down duvet, pounds 100; sleeping bag, pounds 350; rucksack, pounds 150; harness pounds 30; high-altitude shell, pounds 120; crampons, pounds 100; two water bottles, pounds 20; alpine ice-axe, pounds 65

Flight of fantasy Return air fare from London to Kathmandu, pounds 600

The only way is up An Everest package climb includes the hire of guides, who will teach you how to survive; the hire of Sherpas, who carry much of the necessary gear for you; food (if you can call it that); tents; and the all-important peak fee. Total, pounds 25,000

Heading for a fall? Insurance (including cancellation cover of pounds 12,500), pounds 800

Total, pounds 28,900 (or, almost a pound for every frozen, oxygen-starved foot)

Sources: Himalayan Kingdoms Expeditions; Outside Clothing Store

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