Top-end adventure industry defies recession
By Ed Stoddard and Jessica Rinaldi
DALLAS (Reuters) - Briton Pete Lemon is not letting a recession or a $60,000 price tag get in the way of his dream to ski to the South Pole.
"It's a lot of money, but this is a once in a lifetime chance to go to Antarctica," Lemon said in Punta Arenas in southern Chile, where he and a half a dozen other people were readying for a trip that will include an attempt on the highest peak in Antarctica, Mount Vinson.
From arduous trips to the end of the world to bids to reach its highest summit to elephant hunting safaris in Africa, the upper echelons of the outdoor adventure industry seem to rise above the global financial crisis and recession.
Mountaineering and safari operators say this is partly explained by the income levels of their clients, but also because such trips are often once-in-a-lifetime goals that determined individuals have striven for years to achieve.
Further down the income ladder, demand is seen falling for less costly options such as antelope hunts in Africa or climbs that are less taxing than Mount Everest, the world's highest peak.
Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International will take seven to 12 climbers on $65,000 expeditions up Everest this year, the same as in previous years, said program director Gordon Janow.
But Janow said he expected to see a decline in less-demanding and less-expensive expeditions.
Eric Simonson of International Mountain Guides, which offers Everest trips from $43,000 to $70,000, also said his company, based in Ashford, Washington, would be fully booked this year for Everest packages. Continued...