How Do Mountain Climbers Make a Living?


Making money by mountain climbing might sound crazy but it is actually a real source of income that both professionals and amateurs can get into.

Can you make money by mountain climbing? It would depend on what you specialize in and your preferences. A lot of climbers make a living by taking photos of the surrounding landscape. Others write about them in magazines and other outlets. There are also those who do as their actual job as rangers or professional mountaineers.

If you want to, you really can make money by climbing mountains, but don’t think that it is going to be easy or free of consequence.

Ways to Earn Money While Climbing Mountains

To most people, mountain climbing might just be a means of passing the time, connecting with nature, or just to get away from the city, but it can be a source of living for others. The level of which this is the case will depend on the individuals, with some making it their primary means of making money while others only do it part-time. As to how it is done, it usually comes down to the following:

·         Promotional

·         Features

·         News coverage

·         Image sharing

·         Profession

·         Public service

·         Sponsored

Then again, these are mostly generalizations. So, let’s take a look at some specific methods of making money while climbing mountains:

MethodDescription
PhotographyTaking photos of mountain ranges, nature, wildlife, and natural calamities
FilmmakingDocumentaries, film samples, location shoots
Sponsored ClimbRepresenting brands by sporting gear and other products
GuideGuiding other mountain climbers
TrainerTraining novice mountain climbers
PromotionPR campaigns, marketing activities, streaming, etc.
Government EmployeeWorking for the government as a ranger or contractor
WritingWriting a book, a guide, a blog post, etc.
Becoming ProfessionalBecoming a professional mountain climber and traveling the world

As you can see from that table, you truly have a lot of options when it comes to the kinds of things that you can do if you want to make money while mountaineering. Some of them are only indirectly connected to the practice of traipsing through peaks while others are absolutely all about them. The choice would then come down to how involved you want to be.

For those who are making money by basically taking photos of mountains, for example, they could do this as a focus or they can combine it with other things. Taking photos of the local flora and fauna is a good way to mix things up. The same goes for any environmental degradation or changes that might have occurred for one reason or another.

This is just for one particular field, as well. You can do just as many things or even more with writing, promoting products or services, or working for NGOs by raising awareness. The point is that your potential for making money is practically limitless. As such, you want to give a lot of thought into what exactly you want to do.

More than that, though, you might also want to think about just how far you can take this route. If you are making decent money from mountaineering, for example, this might be your chance to break away from the monotony of your daily life and pursue something fulfilling. This is just something for you to think about.

Professional Mountaineer Vs Mountain Climbers

When it comes to the difference between a professional mountaineer and just regular old mountain climbers, the concept is easy enough to grasp. It’s basically like the difference between a professional athlete and someone who just does out for exercise or fun. As such, there are also varying levels with regard to how involved people can be in terms of the activity.

For example, just as there are amateurs who only choose to play with their friends in the yard or in the gym, there are also those who form their own teams to compete with other amateurs. In the same vein of thought, there are professional athletes who only compete locally, while others do so on a national and even international level.

The same goes for mountaineers and mountain climbers. There are enthusiasts who choose to only frequent their local ranges while others travel all over the world for one reason or another. Professionals can also be cornered in a particular box or they can choose to widen their horizons.

As such, it would be a mistake that all professional mountaineers are the same. It would just be as wrong to think that all mountain climbers are the same. At the very least, there is a difference in skill and experience to consider on both sides of the aisle. At the end of the day, there are those who will be better at climbing mountains than others.

Do Mountain Climbers Earn Money?

Now that we have made it clear that there is a difference between a mountaineer and a mountain climber, the question that you might ask is if mountain climbers can earn money. As already mentioned, though, they certainly can. It would depend a lot on what they are interested in and what their particular sets of skills are.

However, more than simply the capabilities to make money while climbing mountains, there is also the question of the motivations for doing so. There is the financial aspect, of course, with extra money being a nice boon even when you factor in the other benefits of the activity. In addition to that, though, there could also be the question of finding something fulfilling.

Sure, having extra money is good, but getting it while experiencing the beauty of nature and being away from the busy world of the cities are more than satisfactory. This can even be an opportunity to pursue a different path in terms of their career or even in their way of life. After all, if you can climb mountains and earn money by doing so, you wouldn’t have to worry about going hungry.

Related Questions

How Do Climbers Get Paid?

This would depend on how you are earning the money, in the first place. There are many times in which the money is simply mailed to the recipient along with some documentation relevant to the job. In careers that involve selling products or services, collecting a check, in person is the norm.

Do You Get Paid for Climbing Mount Everest?

For most who attempt climbing Mount Everest, there is no payment to be had. However, there are times when professional climbers are actually sponsored by companies to do so while wearing their gear. This is most often only available to the very best climbers, though.

Becoming a Professional Mountaineer

If you want to become a professional mountaineer, there are two main ways to go about it. One is to simply do the research and learn how to do it yourself by spending as much time climbing as possible. The other is to have someone teach you, which is what mountain climbing trainers are supposed to do. Please take note that note all mountaineering guides are qualified as trainers.

In any case, those are your two main options. There is a third route that you can take, where you basically just wing it and tackle the mountain head-on, but this would not be advised. It is a foolhardy approach and you are only going to suffer as a result.

If you are going to become a professional mountaineer, though, you will need to learn quite a few things. Reading weather patterns, understanding terrain, being able to survive by foraging or hunting, as well as fending off wild animals are just a few of these things. Your equipment and techniques will matter, as well.

Any professional mountaineer will also know that mastering one mountain is not equivalent to mastering others. Different terrains, climates, ecosystems, and geography can offer vastly different experiences.

Should You Earn Money Climbing Mountains?

Now that you know that you can earn money by climbing mountains, the next question to ask would be whether or not you would actually want to do this. The answer to this would depend on your own priorities, circumstances, and preferences. For example, if you have a family already, you might find the switch to be unbearable.

However, if you don’t yet have a family, are often alone, are working a job you hate for very little money, and have no prospects for building a life, there is no reason to hesitate. Of course, this is a fairly extreme example, which is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common. As a result, there might be a lot of folks who will actually want to do mountaineering as a means of living.

On that note, there is also the question of capabilities. Climbing mountains is a fairly demanding exercise and we have yet to factor in your own skills. Not everyone has the kind of abilities needed to actually live off of mountaineering. If your only skill is to work with computers, for example, you are not exactly going to thrive in the mountains. 

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