A Mercer Island High School graduate plans to summit Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, by 2023.
And he plans to pay for the $60,000 climb via his recently launched landscape photography business, TMP Canvas.
Tony Michaels currently works in marketing at a local startup, but realized he would need additional income if he ever wanted to see his aspirations become reality.
“I’ve been an outdoorsy guy pretty much my whole life,” Michaels said. “It’s easy to be that guy growing up in Seattle, being so spoiled with so much outdoor beauty in the area.”
Michaels took an interest in hiking the iconic Pacific Northwest day hikes back in high school prior to graduating in 2008. He hiked the easy Rattlesnake Ledge at 1,160-feet elevation gain all the way to the Mailbox Peak, a 4,000-feet elevation gain.
“And, eventually, a friend of mine and I started to step it up,” he said.
The two summitted Washington’s Mount St. Helens (4,500-feet elevation gain), Mount Adams (6,740-feet elevation gain) and Glacier Peak (8,300-feet elevation gain).
At around the same time Michaels was ticking Washington mountain summits off of his bucket list, he started to travel as well. He went to Europe, parts of Asia and “on a whim” traveled to Nepal and the Himalayas.
There, he climbed Mount Everest’s neighbor, Imja Tse or “Island Peak” with very little training at the time. Island Peak’s total elevation is 20,305 feet and it took him three weeks.
“Ever since we did that, we’ve been really hooked,” Michaels said of he and his friend.
That ascent was two years ago.
Once he decided Mount Everest was next, the issue of how to pay for the climb was another mountain all together.
Summiting Mt. Everest is so costly because permits alone are $15,000. Then, tack on the time it takes to climb the mountain, which means two months worth of food, logistical support, a doctor’s service, sherpas, equipment, oxygen and more, and $60,000 begins to make sense.
The cheapest climb to Mt. Everest is somewhere around $35,000 with less support while the more premium guides cost up to $90,000.
Already with a passion for the outdoors and several major adventures under his belt, Michaels figured tapping into his niche landscape photography audience he’d already established on Instagram (with 20,000-plus followers) would be the best route to make some extra money for his Mount Everest expedition.
“I’m a landscape photographer and finding a cool way to showcase that photography is something I’ve been working on for a long time,” he said.
Not only has he started TMP Canvas, in which customers can purchase his work on canvases in an array of sizes, but Michaels’ art is currently being featured at LA Gallery Frames, 309 S. Third St. in Renton.
Michaels said he found the business through a friend who had one of Michaels’ canvases framed.
With each canvas, Michaels includes a story of where the shot came from. So far, he’s been to 29 countries and has plans to keep traveling.
This year, he plans to stay local and summit Mount Rainier at least two times. But next year he will travel to South America to tackle the tallest mountain on that continent, Aconcagua (22,841-feet elevation).
And while Michaels isn’t 100 percent sure his longtime hiking friend will join him in 2023 up Mount Everest, he does plan to bring girlfriend Ariel Garcia, who is also “obsessed with mountaineering.”