3/29/2008

Dear Family & Friends:

On Sunday, March 30, Lori, Amy and I will board a Thai Airlines flight to Bangkok, Thailand. We arrive in Bangkok on April 1 and will stay in the city until April 3 when we depart for Kathmandu, Nepal. We fly from Kathmandu to Lukla on April 6 to start our trek to Everest Base Camp. The trekking schedule is set forth in my March 6 report.

What a wild ride this has been over the past several weeks! As we leave the United States, the situation in Nepal regarding permits and climbing restrictions is still very much unsettled. About the only thing we know with any degree of confidence is that the Nepalese government will be issuing climbing and trekking permits. However, as of today, we still do not have our permit. We have no idea what sort of restrictions will be imposed on our climb of Mt. Everest. Even today, a popular Mt. Everest website is reporting the publication of draft “Temporary Rules” that rival the tax code in complexity and ambiguity. http://everestnews.com/everest2008/everest03282008.htm Just a few days ago, it was being reported that no restrictions would be imposed on our climb.

I am proceeding on faith that we will obtain our permit and have our shot at the summit. More importantly, I place my full trust in the Lord. Whatever happens will be for the best. My worst downside is that I get to revisit the magnificent Himalaya mountain range and share that sacred experience with my daughters. How bad can that be?

Bud and Terri Allen will not be joining us for this trek and climb. Bud’s commercial real estate business is booming, and he doesn’t feel it prudent to leave, especially with all the uncertainty concerning climbing restrictions. Bud and Terri will complete their trip in 2009. We will miss them, but we understand and support their decision. My friends, David Liano and Quang Than, are going, although David has abandoned his plan to complete an unprecedented double traverse of Mt. Everest because permits are not being issued by the Chinese on the North side of the mountain. David will instead complete his second summit of Mt. Everest from the South side and then climb neighboring Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. He will use supplemental oxygen on the Everest climb, but will climb Lhotse without oxygen.

I want to correct an error in my previous report. The Chinese had wanted to traverse the mountain with the Olympic torch, moving up the South (Nepal) side and down the North (Tibet) side. Those plans have changed, and the torch will move up the North side and down the North side.

I am thrilled to have my daughters going with me for the trek to Base Camp. In a wonderful development, I have hired a highly competent sherpa to trek with them from Base Camp back to Lukla. His name is Puchhanga Bhote. He is 27-years old and is a citizen of Nepal who works as a trekking and mountain guide. He is also a Christian, which is somewhat unusual since most sherpas are Budhhists. He is very active in Christian, charitable and missionary activities in the Khumbu region and plans to take my daughters to visit schools, hospitals and orphanages.

My personal sherpa this year is Mingma Sherpa, who has summitted Mt. Everest 3 times and has also summitted Makalu, Cho Oyu and Kangguru. I look forward to meeting him when we arrive in Kathmandu.

I am totally psyched about this trip. I feel prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenge, and I have the advantage of knowing the mountain better than I did last year. I have thought about this trip almost every day since I turned around at the South summit at noon on May 21 of last year.

I had a special Everest cap made for my team and family. I have some extra caps that will be sold on my daughter, Lisa’s, website Charming Cards. All proceeds from these sales will be donated to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. Lisa is also donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of other products on her website that come from this link to ASF in honor of my Training Partner, Ollie. Here is a link to the sale of the Everest cap: http://www.charmingcards.com/item.php?item_id=1290

My beloved life partner, and expedition reporter extraordinaire, Sharon, will faithfully transcribe my satellite telephone reports and post them on my website so you can keep up with my adventure. This is no small task. After I returned from the mountain last year, she played some of the tapes of my telephone reports. I could not decipher many of those reports. Thanks Sharon. I love you.

I will post my next report from Bangkok.

God bless all of you,

Bill Burke