Back Home, Pictures from the Trip

Costa Mesa, Ca.

June 21, 2010

Dear Family & Friends:

I’m home, feeling great and gaining back some of the 15 pounds I lost on the mountain.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be posting an 18-minute video/photo review of my 2010 Everest trip on the North (Tibet) side of the mountain.  In the meantime, I have selected a few photos you may enjoy.  The last photo shows my turnaround point at the Second Step near the base of the famous Summit Triangle.

Last week, I received some really depressing news.  My plan was to return to Everest next year to complete my unfinished business on the North side.  Unfortunately, on June 10, 2010, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association placed age restrictions on North side climbs.  No one under the age of 18 or over the age of 60 will be issued a climbing permit.  The ban was sparked by the controversy surrounding young climbers, but, unfortunately, was extended to seniors.

The CTMA regulations state that exceptions can be made for climbers who produce a medical certificate stating they are fit to climb a high altitude mountain, but it is unclear how this exception will be applied in individual cases.  Asian Trekking advises me that I would present a strong case for application of the exception because of (i) my South side summit last year, (ii) my careful and conservative climbing style as evidenced by my decision to turn around at the South summit in 2007 and the Second Step this year and (iii) the fact I have climbed the highest mountain on every continent, all after reaching the age of 60. If I can’t return to Everest, I will start looking more closely at the Poles.

This was just a great year for me on Everest even though I didn’t touch the summit.  The views were spectacular (much better than the South side), and I felt strong and healthy the whole time I was on the mountain.  The weather would just not cooperate, and I did not get that much needed rest day at high camp.  But, I am happy with my performance on the mountain and my decision to make the turn at the Second Step.  Tragically, two climbers after me reached the summit from the North side but died on the way down.  Their bodies are still on the mountain.

My attitude about the climb this year is undoubtedly helped by my summit last year.  The great climbers all talk about following your instincts and moving down when conditions, physical or external, don’t seem right.  I don’t compare myself to these legends, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am happy to take lessons from their experience.

Thanks to all of you who followed my trip this year, and a special thanks to those of you who posted words of encouragement on my blog.  I was inspired and motivated by this support, and I love all of you.

God bless you,

Bill Burke

(click picture for large version)

 

The Team

The Team

David & Bill

David & Bill

03 Mingma, Bill & Ang Sona

Mingma, Bill & Ang Sona

Route to the summit on the North Side (photo courtesy of Alan Arnette)

Route to the summit on the North Side (photo courtesy of Alan Arnette)

Showering at Base Camp

Showering at Base Camp

Mt. Everest from Base Camp

Mt. Everest from Base Camp

Everest after a heavy snow

Everest after a heavy snow

Summit view

Summit view

Heavy winds on the summit

Heavy winds on the summit

Advanced Base Camp (21,000 feet)

Advanced Base Camp (21,000 feet)

11 Moving up the headwall to Camp 1

Moving up the headwall to Camp 1

Camp 1 on the North Col (23,000 feet)

Camp 1 on the North Col (23,000 feet)

Camp 1 with the route to the Camp 2 and the summit in the background

Camp 1 with the route to the Camp 2 and the summit in the background

Moving to Camp 2

Moving to Camp 2

Camp 2 (25,300 feet)

Camp 2 (25,300 feet)

Mingma & Bill moving to Camp 3

Mingma & Bill moving to Camp 3

Camp 3 (27,400 feet) with the summit ridge in the background

Camp 3 (27,400 feet) with the summit ridge in the background

18 Camp 3 and the summit.jpg

Camp 3 and the summit 

View from Camp 3

View from Camp 3 

The summit ridge & the Second Step (where I turned around)

The summit ridge & the Second Step (where I turned around)