First Ascent of Burke-Khang-Part 3

Burke-Khang-Part 3

Costa Mesa, Ca.
August 24, 2015

Dear Family & Friends:

Burke-Khang is not Mt. Everest or K-2. But, the allure of the mountain is its mystery, since it has never been climbed. After carefully reviewing the photos and video footage from my April helicopter recon of Burke-Khang, I am convinced this will be a difficult and challenging alpine climb. Perhaps more so than Mt. Everest.

Burke-Khang is 6,742 meters (22,775 feet) in altitude and presents significant challenges, including technical climbing, crevasse fields, overhanging ice seracs, avalanche prone couloirs, bergschrunds, route finding, glacial travel and ridge climbing.

Moving directly up the South Face of the mountain is out of the question since the approach is heavily defended by crevasse fields and the face of the mountain is far too icy and vertical.

P1010886 - Version 2
South Face of Burke-Khang

Our assault plan is to move up the East Buttress in an effort to gain the southeast ridgeline. The East Buttress is also extremely vertical, and all approaches require moving up avalanche-prone couloirs, made more parlous by overhanging ice seracs. We will fix lines on the Buttress all the way up to the ridgeline where we will establish Camp 1 on the mountain.

Bc to C1
Base Camp to Camp 1
Bills route bottom half
East Buttress

The route from Camp 1 to the summit moves up a long snowfield, through a bottleneck and then up another long snowfield to the base of the headwall that leads to the summit ridge. Both snowfields and the bottleneck are home to massive crevasse fields. Many of these crevasses will be hidden from view by deep snow. In order to avoid the crevasses, we will forge a left-to-right loop on the lower snowfield, move back left towards the east ridgeline and then head up the bottleneck to the upper snowfield. Because the crevasses may be hidden from view, we will tie in to a rope line, with each climber 50 feet apart. We will use our ice axes to probe for crevasses. Should any climber break through the snow and fall into a crevasse, the rest of the climbers will drop to their knees and plant their ice axes in the snow and ice to arrest the fall. This will make for a very slow, arduous and exciting ascent.

C1 to Bottleneck
Camp 1 through the Bottleneck

Once we reach the headwall that leads to the summit ridge, we will set up our second camp on the mountain. Early the following morning, we will make our move to the summit. The headwall is steep and icy, which will require us to fix lines on the mountain for safety. Upon reaching the summit ridge, we will make a sharp left turn and move to the summit. The pitch on the ridgeline is steep, but, thankfully, free from crevasse and serac risk. Upon reaching the summit, we will celebrate and then start the move down, all the way back to Base Camp.

C2 to Summit
Bottleneck to the Summit

We will spend 1 night at Base Camp and depart the following day. It will take us 4-days to trek back to Lukla and 1 day to fly from Lukla to Kathmandu, where we will enjoy a celebratory dinner and then return home.

As usual, I will file daily expedition reports on my blog, accompanied by photos and video. Other climbers and trekkers will do the same on their blogs, including Garrett. If you have not already recorded your e-mail address on my blog, please consider doing so before the trip so you receive e-mail alerts when reports are filed. I will be documenting the entire trip with photos and video, which I will share with you after I return.

Here is a more detailed Itinerary of the expedition: Burke Khan Climb-7

Bill Burke


8 thoughts on “First Ascent of Burke-Khang-Part 3

  1. Hi again Bill,
    I really look forward to the reports, and day to day travails. I also presume
    I won’t see you this year at the Gary golf tournament. I do look forward to
    seeing you each year.

    All my best to you and yours,


  2. Well, Mr. Bill I will repeat—-:-remember what you promised to your Mom!
    Anyway, I know this is so important to you, just have a helluva good time. I will add, your persistence
    gives all of us encouragement to “get the most out of whatever we choose to conquer”!!!!

  3. I wish you much success in this extrodinary quest…i felt queasy just looking at the graphs and reading the details…I don’t know where you get the strength and stamina, you are inspiring!!!!

  4. Bill,
    You have outlined a fabulous climb, and the close-up photos plainly show the difficulties and skill set required to successfully summit Burke-Khang. The words to a Jack Jones song in the 60’s come to mind:
    “To dream the impossible dream, to go where the brave dare not go; this is my quest, this is my hope…”

    Climbing blessings on this adventure quest.


  5. My prayers will be with you as always, Bill. It looks & sounds impossible to me, but I realize that is what you do, the impossible! God Bless, Betty

  6. Dear Bill:

    If anyone can make it, you can. Determination and preparation are your bywords, I believe.

    I’ll be following every message you send; heart in mouth and hope in heart.

    God speed, fearless one.


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