I am a 77-year old amateur mountaineer. I am married to Sharon Burke, and we reside in Costa Mesa, California.
I attended Stanford Law School and practiced law for over 45 years in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York. My specialty was domestic and international capital markets transactions. I also handled appeals in federal and state courts, including successful appearances in the United State Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court and federal appellate courts all across the country.
In addition to practicing law for clients, I was heavily involved throughout my career in lecturing, writing and law reform. I was honored to receive 5 Lifetime Achievement Awards by different organizations for those activities. Here is a link to remarks made by Roland Brandel when I was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Business Law Section of the California State Bar Association.
I promised my family I would retire from the practice of law when I reached the age of 60. I kept that promise in 2003, although I handled legal work sporadically from 2003 to 2012. Now, I am finally retired for good.
When I first retired in 2003, I decided it was important to take up some kind of safe and sedentary hobby, like golf or tennis. After much thought and research, I settled on high altitude mountaineering. I took a high altitude climbing course in the Cascades and then returned to climb Mt. Rainier. After Mt. Rainier was Mt. McKinley in Alaska, the highest mountain in the North American Continent. I have now climbed the highest mountain on every continent.
I summited Mt. Everest from the South (Nepal) side on May 23, 2009, becoming the oldest American to reach the summit and return alive. I was 67 at the time. In 2014, at age 72, I returned to climb Mt. Everest from the more challenging North (Tibet) side. I summitted from this side on May 25, 2014, thus breaking my own record and becoming the oldest person living outside Asia to summit the highest mountain in the world. I am the only person to climb the highest mountain on every continent after reaching age 60.
In May of 2014, the government of Nepal opened 104 new peaks in the fabled Himalayan mountain range. One of those peaks was named after me. Burke Khang (“Khang” means mountain) is 6,942 meters (22,775 feet) high and is located between Mt. Everest and Cho Oyu, two of the most famous mountains in the world. Like Mt. Everest, Burke Khang is a border peak since half of it is located in Nepal and the other half is located in China. In October of 2015, I organized a private expedition of 7 friends to climb Burke-Khang. We trekked 50-miles from Lukla to the base of Burke-Khang, where began the arduous climb of this mountain. Two of us reached an altitude of 22,500 feet, just a few hundred feel below the summit ridge, where we awaited the fixing of lines to the summit. The Sherpa line-fixing team was unable to fix the lines because of extremely dangerous conditions along the ridgeline. These conditions included multiple cornices, sheer vertical blue ice, a giant black-hole crevasse, avalanche prone colouirs and a concave ice-wall blocking the approach to the summit. We concluded that loss of life was a virtual certainty if we continued, so we called off the summit attempt. I made 3 more attempts to climb Burke-Khang, once in the Fall of 2016, again in the Spring of 2017 and finally in the Fall of 2017. My good Irish friend Noel Hannah and my dear Sherpa friends Naga Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa and Samden Bhote reached the summit of Burke Khang on October 5, 2017. Burke-Khang is far more challenging, technical and dangerous than Mt. Everest.
In late July, 2019, I will begin a solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River, starting at the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota and ending at the Gulf of Mexico. The trip spans over 2,400 miles and will take me through 10 states. The journey will take about 80 days.
Sharon and I are blessed with a great family. We have 4 children and 14 grandchildren. In June of 2018, we celebrated our 56th wedding anniversary. Sharon is the love of my life.
We have 4 wonderful children, a wonderful daughter in law and sons in law and 14 even more wonderful grandchildren.
Nine of our fourteen grandchildren are boys. All of them were involved in high school athletic programs. Mitch was the quarterback for the Corona Del Mar High School football team. In 2010, he led the team to their first league title in 22 years. Josh was a wide receiver on that team. What a thrill to watch one grandson throw a touchdown pass to another grandson. Mitch attended Chico State College. While at Chico, he founded a highly successful company-Pocket Points-with a friend. In 2011, CDM won the CIF California State Football Championship in a thrilling championship game, which CDM won by a score of 14-13. Josh scored the winning touchdown on a 61-yard pass reception. He was the league’s leading receiver and received numerous post-season awards. Josh graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Luke was a star on his high school football team. He now attends Auburn College. Danny D is a super athlete just entering high school and will be in high school athletic programs.
In high school Simon rowed for the Newport Aquatic Center and competed in the 2017 US Rowing Southwest Championships on May 5-7, 2017. His Varsity 8 Team captured the Gold Medal in an astounding performance. Simon was then asked to add varsity power to the Lightweight 8 boat, which was not expected to stand on the medal platform. His Lightweight 8 team also captured the Gold Medal. In a record performance, in June of 2017, Simon’s Varsity 8 team, took the Gold Medal in the US Rowing Youth National Championship race in Sarasota Floria. Simon plans to complete his post-high school studies at the University of Southern California.
Billy was Captain of his volleyball team and now attends the University of Southern California. Gavin was a star player for his high school la crosse team and now attends Carnegie Mellon University.
We are blessed with 5 beautiful and talented granddaughters.
Bailey graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and now works in New York City. She has a great job and is enjoying life in the Big Apple. Chelsea also graduated from the University of Colorado where she was a straight “A” student. She now works for a prominent company in Los Angeles. Blake graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with straight “A’s.” She is in post-graduate studies at UCLA and aspires to be a medical assistant. Our twins-Ava and Elle-are in 10th grade and are active in school and church activities.