Dear Family & Friends:

Tonight, and again on December 30, beginning at 5 pm (pst), the Discovery channel is broadcasting a program on a South side climb of Mt. Everest this year.  The program features, among other things: (i) the tragic death of our Sherpa, Lhakpa Nuru, who was swept away in an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on May 6, (ii) Dawes Eddy’s successful attempt to become the oldest American to summit Mt. Everest, a record which he held for two days and (iii) the summit attempts in the storm/cyclone on May 23rd, which is the day I summitted.

While the Discovery channel focused on two other teams, they were able to film a dramatic moment on May 24 as I was rapelling down the Lhotse Face, just below the famous Yellow Band.  My crampons failed to accomplish purchase in the steep ice, and my feet slipped out from under me.  I swung sharply left on the fixed line, directly across the Lhotse Face, and was dangling helplessly, looking at a 3,000 foot fall down a sheer ice face.  After some tense moments, as I attempted to regain my energy and composure, I recovered, but the event was harrowing, to say the least.  You may see this in the Discovery program, as their film crew was right behind me during this portion of my descent.  Needless to say, not my finest moment on the mountain.

In the next couple of weeks, I will post a message about my plans for 2010.  Stay tuned for a shocker.  If you would like to receive an e-mail notice of this post, please register on my website:

As I was thinking about a proper message for the New Year, I realized that I cannot possibly improve on my January 12 message this year.  So, here it is again:

During the darkest days of World War II, King George VI came to the microphone of the BBC to deliver the annual Christmas message to the British Commonwealth. He spoke these eloquent and immortal words:

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”

As we enter this new year, following a year of unprecedented turmoil, hardship and stress for many Americans, and others abroad, I take comfort in these words, and look forward to the future with great hope, promise and anticipation for the good things to come.

I wish all of you God’s blessings, and I hope you have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2009.

I make the same wish for 2010.  May God touch every one of you at each point of need in the New Year.

Bill Burke