Where Do 80 Percent Of All Accidents Happen When Climbing Mt Everest?

by Ron Haynes

Mount Everest

I’ve watched several shows on mountain climbing over the past few weeks and out of curiosity, searched for “how much does it cost to climb Mt Everest?” The result shocked me – the average trip costs $65,000 and takes two to three months. Yes you can do it for less, but in the world of high stakes mountain climbing into “the death zone,” do you really want the cheapest guide service?

Another statistic shocked me as well: 80 percent of all accidents that occur when climbing Mt Everest happen on the way down.

That means that despite overcoming incredible odds, numbing cold, a lack of oxygen, possible snow blindness, and incredible fatigue, not to mention the risk of falling from a 1,000 ft cliff of solid ice, almost all accidents and deaths occur AFTER a climber reaches the summit. They happen after the goal has been reached, after the triumph, after the cheers and slaps on the back, after the celebratory satellite phone call, after the once-in-a-lifetime photo op. After spending months in preparation and tens of thousands of dollars.


It occurred to me that when it comes to goals, particularly financial goals, we expend so much energy in achieving them, that we forget about the way down. Too often, all our thought processes lay in hitting the goal, not in the plans for “happily ever after.” We pay off all our debt only to charge those credit cards right back up less than a year later. We create our emergency fund, use it for an emergency and then fail to replenish it. We set up an online savings account and fail to fund it. We put a few dollars away for the kid’s college only to never revisit it again. We buy tax software early in the year and wind up filing for an extension.

We’re great at setting and even achieving goals, but we’re pitiful at the “what’s next?” portion. I think we become overly confident in our ability to achieve and then slip, having our own accident on the way back down the mountain.

So the next time you set a goal, don’t just set a time limit for achieving it, set up a plan for what to do next.

  • How will you live once you’re debt free?
  • How will you replenish your emergency fund should you be forced to use it?
  • How will you fund your children’s college education regularly?

Decide ahead of time, how you’ll handle the challenges of coming down from your own personal Mt Everest. Be careful, but more importantly, be intentional.

Photo by apurdam (Andrew)

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Credit Girl

Great analogy…All the effort is put into climbing up the financial ladder to success that we fail to strategize how we’re going to keep climbing. Personally, I set many goals so that I constantly have something to look forward to achieving that way I am always on track. For example, if my goal is to save $100 a month, then after a few months of achieving that I’ll try to save $120 a month by cutting back things that aren’t necessary.

Oscar - freestyle mind

I like this comparison and it makes a lot of sense. It’s really shocking to know that it costs that much to climb everest, going to antarctica is cheap compared to that :D

As you said the big deal is not saving, if you are then going to spend all those moneys at once, that’s not how it’s meant to be from the beginning.

Wojciech Kulicki

This is actually a concept that I gave a lot of thought to a few months ago–what happens after we reach the proverbial “financial freedom” or “financial independence?”

I’ve compared this previously to having a key for your “treasure chest.” You can hunt for that treasure all your life, overcome many obstacles, fight off monsters and dragons, but ultimately you need a plan for how you’re going to open it up when you get there.

If we don’t have a plan, are we fully committed and believe that we’ll reach our goals in the first place?


Love the treasure chest analogy.
I don’t know that I’d say we weren’t fully committed by failing to plan for the “happily ever after,” but I would say that not having the AFTER plan is more neglect than accident.


Frugal Dad posted a couple months ago about the challenges not getting easier once he was debt free. It was like a new set of problems emerged. We need to have a plan to survive success or bad habits can creep back in. I think complacency can take root and undo our best plans Diligence is needed in climbing and ascending. Nice word picture. Good post!


We don’t need to allow complacency to come in once our goal is achieved. Success can spoil you.


How very true! Complacency is a lot like apathy, not quite as bad, but close.


I would guess the reason so many injuries happen after the fact is that you are taxed beyond belief by the climb. I recently learned that there is a particular plateau where you can see the summit but there is still this crazy-hard part of the climb to get to the very top. At that altitude, you have only a few days to attempt the summit and then you must go back down. Even if you feel okay then, the amount of oxygen in your blood has been decreasing steadily and you need to get back down to thicker, more pressurized air. I can imagine how frustrating it must be to spend all that money, get almost all the way to the top but *know* you have to turn around and go back down without reaching the summit.

I would think that a lot of people just keep pushing on through, even though they know they have to give it on up. The metaphor I would take away is that you need to know yourself enough to pace your way.


Excellent addition to the whole post — ” you need to know yourself enough to pace your way.” That really is true.

Jimmy Kibler

People who never climb anything never fall off. The people who climb and fall off and climb again are the successful people.


So long as they don’t fall and kill themselves on the way down!
I wasn’t saying “don’t climb,” but to make sure you know what to do and how to do it after you hit that goal.


I have turned away from a peak before after having spent two weeks on the mountain trying to get to the top because I follow an old mountaineers’ adage, “to get to the top is optional, but to get back down is mandatory.” Same with finance: to spend money is optional, to earn it is mandatory.

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