Overview of Guided Climbing of Mount Everest
Right now, we’re in the early stages of organizing the 2024 Everest South Col Expedition, including a fully confirmed stellar team of four members, western guide Damian Benegas and IFMGA Mountain Guide Lopsang Sherpa, and of course, our phenomenal BBE Sherpa and Base Camp Staff. Please note that climbers will arrive in Kathmandu in April 2024.
As you know, BBE is here to give you a truly extraordinary journey. From our world-class guides to highly-trained Sherpas, gourmet cuisine, to a deluxe Base Camp setup; at BBE, you’re welcomed into a unique family of passionate, friendly, expert climbers; dedicated to experiencing the wonder of Everest together.
This season we're offering our Gold Standard Group-Guided Option, with a cost of $80,000.
For 2024, you will have our Industry-leading experts at your side:
- Personal 1:3 Guide and Filmmaker Damian Benegas, boasting five Everest Summits, and summits of Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Ama Dablam
- Stellar Lead Sherpa/Expedition Sirdar Lopsang Sherpa, IFMGA licensed guide
For 1:1 members we also provide:
- 1-to-1 Summit Day Sherpa to Climber Ratio ensuring you the best in safety and success
- Plenty of Oxygen for climbing and sleeping above Camp 2, and 4-liter (maximum) flow rate from high camp up
- Maximum flow rate climbing oxygen
- All logistics Kathmandu-Everest-Kathmandu, all-mountain accommodations, Base Camp and High Camps, all-mountain meals and drinks (including during trek), all group equipment, climbing permits, fixed-wing flight Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu, and three nights in Kathmandu (at the new Fairfield by Marriott Hotel)
- InReach messaging system
- Top Tier Industry Wages setting the industry standard for local staff
Everest Guided Ascent Trip Details
BBE South Col Expedition, Spring 2024
This upcoming season, our Mount Everest Summit Climb is via the South Col. There will also be an Everest Base Camp Trek for friends and family who wish to join the hike to Base Camp.
As in past years, we give you a heavily supported expedition. Benegas Brothers Founders Willie and Damian lead our guide team, and also include one of our most senior guides, Matias (‘Matoco’) Erroz. These are veteran guides with extensive experience, and their reputations for personal integrity and professionalism have taken them from their home in Patagonia to every corner of the world.
Willie Benegas was named the 2010 AMGA Outstanding Guide of the Year, a testament to his skill and an honor only received by the industry’s best. Willie, Damian, and Matoco passionately pass on their principles and expertise to each climber, and look specifically for expedition members eager to learn and share the BBE ethics of teamwork, shared responsibility, compassion, and fun.
As always, we employ our family of renowned Sherpa staff, legendary throughout the community and a true mainstay of our summit support team. Headed up by our IFMGA Guide Certified Sirdar Lam Babu Sherpa and our Base Camp Manager, they ensure an exceptional base camp renowned as the most friendly, welcoming, and professional camp ‘in town,’ with the best - and we mean the best - food!
A Track Record of Consistent Success
BBE South Col Guided Expeditions, Spring 2010 - 2019:
2019: 100% success! All guided climbers made the summit of both Everest and Lhotse.
2018: 100% success! All guided climbers made the summit of both Everest and Lhotse.
2017: 100% success! All guided climbers who reached high camp made the summit.
2013: 100% success! All guided climbers who reached high camp made the summit.
2012: Another red-letter year for Benegas Brothers Expeditions, with six guided clients on the summit. Although we experienced very tough summit conditions, Benegas Brothers Expeditions was one of the few guide services to have large-scale summit success. Our experience and knowledge enabled us to choose an uncrowded summit day, and utilize our guides’ and Sherpas’ expertise. Furthermore, BBE was paramount to the overall success of the 2012 Everest season after we opened a variation of the fixed route on the Lhotse Face without the danger of perilous rockfall affecting the planned route. This promptly opened up the upper face of Everest to all climbers who summited in 2012.
2011: 100% success! A number of climbers also reached the Lhotse summit shortly after that. In addition, BBE guides Damian and Matoco successfully made one of the most difficult high-altitude rescues ever attempted, aiding a Spanish team on the Lhotse Face. They were later awarded multiple international awards for their efforts.
2010: 100% success! All guided climbers who reached high camp made the summit.
These percentages are exceptionally high compared to other outfitters. We strongly encourage you to compare these statistics to our competitors, and happily provide further statistics on summit success ratios for Guided vs. Non-Guided expeditions.
Choosing Your Guide Service
At BBE, we believe there are five key points you must carefully consider when choosing a guide service:
- Safety Record
- Success Rate
- Guides (IFMGA Professional International Mountain Guides and Sherpa Staff)
- Pre-Trip Planning and Support
- Logistics In-Country
Benegas Brothers rank at the very top in each of these points; from impeccable safety record and quality of guides to finely-tuned programs and unrivaled customer service.
We hope this informs your understanding regarding non-guided vs. guided climbs.
Probably the MOST important decision you will make in your Everest planning process is who to climb with.
Guided vs. Non-Guided Expeditions: Making the Choice
Your safety is paramount.
Of course, there are endless ways to achieve any goal. That’s why, in choosing your service, we want you to get all the important information, and to know how varying packages relate to summit success and safety. Here at BBE, we never cut corners. Your safety is Paramount. Because of this, we don’t offer Sherpa-only guided, hybrid-guided, or radio-contact-guided trips, or use inappropriately high climber-to-guide ratios. These are simply NOT the BBE style. We believe any limited-support approach strays from our cornerstone goal of providing the best and safest opportunity for you to reach the summit.
At BBE, we have a 100% safety record, and firmly believe that it’s our guides that make all the difference.
Every day guiding on Everest, we are confronted with situations in which decisions must be made quickly and effectively. Something is wrong with the route. Is it safe to go on? Is the anchor OK? Can I fix it? It snowed last night, is it going to avalanche? The route is too crowded today, is it a long enough weather window to wait for a quieter summit day? A bad decision means life or death, and no resource – no matter how many bottles of oxygen you have, how good your weather forecast, or how quality your suit - can take the place of being part of a team with expert judgment gained through years and years of tried and true experience. Few Climbing Sherpas in the Khumbu have the qualifications and years of accrued experience to pass BBE’s requirements for guiding on Everest.
Time and time again, we see non-guided climbers turn back due to variable weather conditions. Even those with Sherpa support frequently fail to summit due to a lack of leadership from experienced guides (either Western or Sherpa), succumbing to poor decision-making and lack of planning. Even with the most generous of sponsors, few of these climbers are lucky enough to get a second chance. Furthermore, from a safety perspective, if you have just one Sherpa as your resource, the likelihood of a quick rescue with medical attention is limited. However, if your team is made up of professional Everest guides, both Western and Sherpa, and a strong support team, vital medical attention, and a quick evacuation are possible. To the trauma victim, this can be the difference between life and death, and it’s harrowing to think of sick or injured climbers in these dangerous conditions.
The stakes are just too high to cut corners.
A paper published in the British Medical Journal states that 80% of deaths on Everest occur on summit day, or shortly after that. Exhaustion, late summit times, and the tendency to fall behind companions are all common among non-survivors. Strong leadership skills are key when summiting Everest, and a cohesive climbing team increases safety margins on the mountain by a long, long way.
Before you climb non-guided or Sherpa-guided, ask yourself:
Do I have the experience to make flawless decisions in extreme circumstances? Only climbers with years of high-altitude climbing and detailed knowledge of avalanches, route finding in bad weather, and medical and self-rescue skills have the self-care and self-management necessary to attempt a non-guided Everest summit.
This article from Outside Magazine gives some insight into guided climbs on Everest: Take A Number.
We encourage you to think carefully about your plans and choose a service that has your best interests at heart. Here at BBE, we’re dedicated to your safety and passionate about making your adventure a success.
Your Experience: The BBE Difference:
As one of Everest’s most renowned guiding companies, BBE is not the cheapest deal, and we certainly don’t want to be. We spend more providing the best leaders, guides, the best Base Camp, Base Camp Staff, equipment, logistics, and safety measures – provisions that many lower-cost outfitters simply cannot afford and do not have. We don’t cut corners - ever. Here, you benefit from the following factors, which increase the safety and success of your Everest Expedition:
Small Group Sizes: We’re committed to keeping group sizes small; no more than six to eight climbers on each climb. As you may know, there are many guide companies whose trips include 15 to 50 people, and some non-guided base camps have up to 40 climbers. These trips are hard to manage and offer little climber assistance. That’s why, at BBE, you get small, tight-knit group sizes that give you the ultimate support and the very best experience possible.
Intimate Knowledge of the Mountain: This increases your summit success and reduces the likelihood of exhaustion and the possibility of an accident. 80% of the deaths on Everest happen on summit day or shortly after, and we’re committed to maintaining our flawless safety record from the beginning to the end of your journey.
Oxygen Supply: BBE gives you more oxygen than any other company on Everest. Furthermore, we use the lightest oxygen system (7 lbs) to reduce fatigue and summit day times. For 2020, we also offer a 4-liters per minute (maximum) flow rate for summit day.
One-to-One Summit Day Sherpa Assistance: For a group size of 8, we have a team of 12 Climbing Sherpas carrying loads on the mountain. On summit day, one Climbing Sherpa is assigned to you; carrying extra oxygen for you the entire day. We also have a backup team at the South Col on summit day for comms and any support required for descending.
Gourmet Cuisine: You get a gourmet Base Camp menu designed and tested to keep you well-fed, strong, and healthy. Base Camp is fully stocked with huge, double-wall dining tents equipped with carpets and heaters, comfortable chairs, and long, family-style tables. This is where climbers gather to chat, recharge, and truly experience the excitement of Everest. When we say we have the best food at base camp, we mean it!
Base Camp Support: BBE is renowned for its incredible experience. We employ a full-time Base Camp Manager, and pride ourselves on giving you a comfortable, healthful, and friendly stay. In addition to our world-class dining tents and cuisine, we give you a propane-heated shower, custom weather forecasting, and free high-speed internet. You’ll stay in special tents with vestibules designed for both standing and sleeping, so you’ll feel right at home and be able to settle in truly. Solar power at Base Camp quietly supports our satellite communications, allowing us to maintain excellent emergency contact capabilities, and keep friends and family informed during the weeks away from home. Of course, BBE posts regular Internet dispatches all season. We do have a generator for backup on the inevitable snowy or cloudy days, though this is rarely used, as our solar setup is top-notch. 110V power is used for charging electrical devices, with unlimited charging on sunny days.
World-Class Mountain Guides: BBE’s leaders are true professionals, exceptional teachers, and strong climbers. Each guide has completed countless high-altitude expeditions and are veteran of the Himalayas. Our clients benefit from the BBE core guide group; individuals who have climbed together extensively, creating a tight-knit team skilled in communication and collaboration. Here at BBE, we are a family. You won’t find any other Himalayan climbing or trekking programs led or staffed by the kind of caliber we field for Everest every season. With a truly professional guide team and outstanding Sherpa support, you get the leadership, guidance, and assistance you need for an awesome adventure and a powerful bid for the summit.
Top-Notch Climbing Sherpas: At BBE, we hire the same great climbing Sherpas every year. These highly-trained individuals are treated with respect, paid above industry standards, and are passionate about working with our team. Most of these Sherpas have made a myriad of climbs with BBE over the years, and many have multiple Everest summits. Our cooks do a truly amazing job, and our menus are the best in base camp.
Expert Trek Itineraries: We create thorough, detailed, expertly planned trek itineraries for both trekkers and our climbing team. We know how to acclimatize properly, and dedicate plenty of time to this process. You’ll stay in comfortable lodges with the safest and most delicious food. Unlike most other teams, we take our trekkers to Base Camp and invite you to stay as MEMBERS of the expedition team. If you want to trek to Everest Base Camp, go with a team like BBE; giving you a chance to experience the magic fully!
Result-Driven Planning: To give you a truly seamless and stress-free travel experience, we comply with all local, state, federal, and international regulations for the countries in which we climb. This includes proper visas and climbing permits, top-of-the-line equipment, and Himalayan Rescue Association Membership (full “Everest ER” access), as well as the maximum level of insurance possible for all our employees and support teams. At BBE, our commitment to the safety and well-being of our local staff is paramount. And, of course, complete adherence to all environmental regulations.
Don’t just take our word for it… Hear reviews from thrilled climbers!
Testimonial, James Walkley, Denver, CO:
I have been climbing big mountains for 20+ years. Having been on multiple Himalayan expeditions, I will never consider another guide or outfitter other than BBE moving forward. They lead the pack from a logistics, infrastructure, food quality, personal attention, and safety perspective by a WIDE margin.
Willie is not only an extraordinarily strong, capable, seasoned guide, but he is also a great expedition leader and teammate who manages to keep the atmosphere light, fun, and inclusive despite the serious nature of Himalayan climbing. Most of us only have one chance at Everest. Why not make the best investment you can, choose BBE!
The Everest Route and Camps
There are a huge number of informative books and articles on the South Col route, and we encourage you to discover the wealth of stories and insights available. In the meantime, here’s a brief snapshot of this spectacular ascent:
Base Camp: BBE Base Camp is situated at 5,350 meters at the foot of the Khumbu Ice Fall, from camp we can enter the Ice Fall after just five minutes of hiking. Above lies the infamous Ice Fall, fixed with ropes and ladders by the legendary “Ice Fall Doctors”.
Camp 1:is located at the top of the Ice Fall at about 6,100 meters. From here, the Western Cwm opens out in front of us, with the South West Face of Everest and Lhotse coming completely and magnificently into view for the first time. It is an easy but long walk up into the Western Cwm to Camp 2, winding our way around various crevasses.
Camp 2: At 6,400 meters, Camp 2 sits on a patch of the moraine, under the imposing southwest Face. This is our fully-equipped Advanced Base Camp, where members can stay for more extended periods. Another gentle slope leads to the huge Lhotse face, an ice wall of approximately 30 - 40 degrees in angle. The rope will fixed here for our ascent to Camp 3.
Camp 3: is placed at approximately 7,400 meters. From here, we continue up the Lhotse Face, passing the rocks of the Yellow Band to traverse left towards the South Col, at just under 8000 meters.
Camp 4: here, at just under 8000 meters, we finally place Camp 4; resting and refueling, and preparing to make our bid for the summit.
The Summit: Summit Day follows the lower slopes of the southeast Ridge, climbing long snow slopes to reach the Balcony, a prominent feature on the route. Above this, the route climbs the flank of the ridge to the South Summit, up occasional short rock steps. From the South Summit, the ridge is traversed to the foot of the Hillary Step. This famous obstacle must be overcome before the final, gentle slope to the summit.
We are committed to making your trip absolutely safe, with as great a chance of summiting as possible; allocating eight bottles for this portion of the climb. This allows us to climb using the maximum flow given by the oxygen system - 4 liters per minute. Standard flow rates for most expeditions are 2 to 3 liters per minute. BBE’s higher flow rate significantly improves our teams’ performance, safety, and success. In addition, we have extra bottles of course for emergency use, and also for anyone who finds they are struggling early on who might climb better with a low flow rate before the altitude of Camp 3. This is not a replacement for proper acclimatization, and we normally find oxygen is unnecessary until above Camp 3, but occasionally teams members have climbed with oxygen from Camp 2 and we do allow for this at no extra cost.
Required Experience for Everest?
Here at BBE, we look for experienced climbers for whom Everest is a logical next step. Our team must be in top physical condition, and ready to meet the extreme challenges Everest presents. It is important that your resume includes previous high altitude climbs and solid mountaineering skills. Climbs like Denali, Aconcagua, Cho-Oyu and Vinson are excellent prerequisites for an Everest attempt.
It is also important that team members are able to work well with others, and are willing to commit to a group effort lasting several weeks. A positive attitude is proven to increase summit success, and of course, makes for a more enjoyable climb.
You will be exposed to a completely different culture during the expedition, and it is your responsibility to treat the people you meet and their environment with respect. We want you to make new Nepali friends, help in the kitchen, and make our camp even more fun. This eagerness and willingness is as important as your climbing skills.
Physical Conditioning for Everest?
In the interests of safety, success, and team compatibility, climbers must be in excellent physical condition. Prior experience carrying a heavy pack for multiple days is required, and climbers must be able to carry an average of 30lbs or more and be physically and mentally prepared to deal with strenuous situations at high altitudes. Get in touch with us; we’re excited to assist in developing a training program that helps you meet your goals.
Everest 2024 Itinerary
We will send this upon request, please contact for more information.