In the wee hours of Tuesday morning in Nepal, Cory Richards was on the slope of Mount Everest, out of breath, under a nearly full moon. “I’m all alone right now,” he panted. “About 8,700 meters”—that’s meters above sea level, or 500 feet from the summit. At 6:30 a.m. local time, he made it to the top of the earth’s tallest peak, without the use of supplemental oxygen, a rare feat.
We know all this happened because not long after, Richards posted video and pictures on Snapchat, along with plenty of other footage of his slog to the top. Richards and fellow climber and Eddie Bauer Alpinist Adrian Ballinger (who turned back around 8,480 meters) have been snapping the gritty details of their climb for months. Though they carry extra equipment, it helped that, somewhat incredibly, much of the mountain has had 4G coverage since 2013.
The result has been a riveting glimpse into the arduous, and expensive, business of summiting Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. (See for yourself at the Snapchat account, EverestNoFilter, or on YouTube). It’s a welcome feel-good story from the mountain, where four people have died already this year.
The storied climb was never a walk in the park, but it’s become an even greater source of angst for climbers and environmentalists in recent years. Last April, an earthquake in Nepal killed thousands, including 22 Everest climbers and staff. And as cheaper tours proliferate and major Western climbing groups step back, conservationists worry about trash buildup and other problems on the mountain.
Ballinger has summited Everest six times before, and runs a climbing expedition company called Alpenglow. Speaking from basecamp in mid-May, he told Fortune, “The business of Everest is at a crossroads. What worries me is what this mountain looks like 7 years from now.” Alpenglow pays sherpas eight to 10 times more than some of the lower-budget tours now proliferating, he says. And inexpensive trips might also skimp on things like trash collection and other trail maintenance to keep costs low. “I’m very concerned for the future of Everest guiding and the industry,” Ballinger says.
Snapchat might be able to help, at least a little. The project has offered an unfiltered look at the ecstasy and agony of climbing Everest, including snaps of toilets and trash buildup. Richards, who is also a National Geographic photographer, says that Instagram is for beautiful photos, but Snapchat is a better window into what actually happens. “You’ve got 10 seconds to say what you wanna say,” he says. “I think it gives people a much more realistic view.”
Want to try it? Here’s what you’d need to do.
–Carry 16 pounds of additional equipment for communications.
–Spend between $45,000 and $85,000 for a quality guided climb.
–Or get a sponsor. Eddie Bauer, Soylent, and Strava back Ballinger and Richards.
–Spend plenty of time acclimating to the altitude at basecamp before attempting the summit.
–Bring supplemental oxygen for the altitudes where the oxygen thins out. Richards and Ballinger are among the few to attempt the climb without it.
For more on Snapchat, watch this Fortune video:
A shorter version of this article appears in the June 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “How to Climb the World’s Tallest Peak With 5 Million People Watching.”