Costa Mesa, Ca.
October 7, 2015
Dear Family & Friends:
Our Burke-Khang expedition is just around the corner. I depart for Nepal on October 17, and we begin our “First Ascent” of Burke-Khang on October 22 with the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.
The Fall expeditions in Nepal have been extremely challenging because of the weather. High winds, deep snow, soft snow bridges, crevasses and significant avalanche risk have created difficulties in climbing and led many teams to abandon their expeditions. We are hoping for good weather and a consolidation of the snow on Burke-Khang so our ascent and descent will be safe.
I have put together a super team of guides, climbers and trekkers, made up mostly of close friends. We are all super excited about this expedition. Team bios and photos are below.
I will be posting expedition reports on my blog to keep all of you up to date with our trip. Other team members will also be filing reports on their blogs.
Burke-Khang Expedition Team
Garrett Madison (36), owner of Madison Mountaineering, began guiding professionally in 1999 on Mount Rainier and is now America’s premier Everest climber and guide. Garrett has led 37 climbers to the summit of Everest over the last 7 years, more than any other American. In 2011, Garrett led the first expedition in which climbers succeeded in the Everest/Lhotse combination, reaching the summit of two 8,000 meter peaks in less than 24 hours. He repeated this feat in 2013, and is currently the only climber in the world to repeat this “peak to peak” doubleheader. In 2014, Garrett led the first successfully guided ascent of K2, arguably the hardest and most dangerous mountain in the world, reaching the summit in July of 2014 with 2 climbers and 3 Sherpas. Garrett guides many “7 Summits” expeditions during the year. Garrett is regularly involved with film productions on Mt. Everest, participating in 4 different features over the last 3 years. Garrett lives in Seattle, Washington. Madison Mountaineering blog.
Sid Pattison (33) has been skiing and climbing mountains for nearly 20 years. Since cutting his teeth in the Cascade mountains, skiing and climbing have taken him to New Zealand, Europe and Alaska along with the many great ranges of the lower 48 where he has completed technical ascents and descents on ice, snow and rock. Sid is continually seeking out obscure, remote and challenging lines destined to be classics. Sid lives in Winthrop, Washington with his wife and two daughters.
Dr. John (“Coach”) Dahlem (72) is the beloved, retired Principal of Loara, Kennedy and Western High Schools in Orange County, California. Coach is an Eagle Scout and was a decorated company commander during the Vietnam War. Coach is a National, California and Orange County member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame and is Past President of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS – 585 schools). Coach resides in Huntington Beach, California with his wife Sioux. They have two sons. Coach is an avid mountain climber and has climbed the highest mountain on every continent. He reached the summit of Mt. Everest with his son, Ryan, in May of 2010, becoming the second oldest American and the oldest Father-Son combination to stand atop the world. Coach is the oldest person to accomplish the “Explorer Grand Slam,” which includes climbing the Seven Summits and pulling a sled to the North and South Poles.
Naim (“Nick”) Logic (63) lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and is currently working at an Arizona public utility. Nick’s wife, Mirjana, is also an electrical engineer, and his daughter, Mia, graduated from college with a double major in Business and Psychology. Nick has climbed the highest mountain on every continent, and, for good measure, also climbed Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Alpamayo and Ama Dablam. Nick summitted Mt. Everest from the South side in May of 2012. Nick, who hails from Bosnia, has written two excellent books: “From Perun to Everest-My Journey from the Heart of Bosnia to the Rooftop of the World” and “All 7 Highest Mountains of the Continents.” Nick has founded mountaineering associations and has received numerous awards for his outdoor adventures.
Kathy Myers (60, which she hates to admit) is a scientist and competitive ballroom dancer who lives in Oceanside, California. She has a Ph.D. in immunology and is currently working at the Center for Neurologic Study, a research institute in La Jolla whose primary focus is finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. She came to climbing late in life, but has summited half a dozen peaks in the Andes (in both Ecuador and Bolivia), as well as mountains closer to home in the Sierras and Cascades. She likes to do a dance on the top of each mountain she climbs. She performed a wretched samba on the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska, and is determined to redeem herself with a better performance on Burke-Khang.
Denise Fejtek, Newport Beach, California, is the “Chief Experience Officer” (CEO) of Step Outdoor Adventures, LLC, leading outdoor adventure-based retreats for corporate leadership development. She is the first woman to complete the “Peak to Heat Double”–the combination of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest and completing the Hawaii Ironman in Kona. Along with her husband Paul, Denise has climbed the highest peak on each continent, and the two have been featured on NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, and the Today Show. Named by OC Metro Magazine as one of the 25 Hottest People in Orange County, Denise is a professional speaker and dedicates much of her free time to helping worthy organizations, such as the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Hoag Hospital and her church. Fejtek blog.
Paul Fejtek, Newport Beach, California is among a handful of people who have earned the ultimate endurance “PHD” known as the “Peak to Heat Double,” consisting of summiting Earth’s highest peak and also finishing the Triathlon World Championship, the Hawaii Ironman. Paul was named the Most Inspirational Athlete of the Year by the Challenged Athletes Foundation and is the author of “Steps to the Summit – Reaching the Top in Business and Life.” In addition to climbing the Seven Summits with his wife, Denise, Paul has reached the top of dozens of other peaks around the world, including the Matterhorn and the highest mountains in 13 countries. As training for Burke-Khang, he recently completed the 100-mile Leadville Trail MTB the “Race Across the Sky,” known as the toughest single-day bike race in North America. Paul is an investment banker with nearly 20 years of experience negotiating mergers & acquisitions of privately-held companies. He began his career at Citigroup and is currently Managing Director and is “ascending even higher” at Ascendiant Capital Markets. Fejtek blog.
Bud Allen (57) from Columbus, Georgia has been in the real estate development business for over 25 years. He is an avid pilot having flown everything from gliders (including one plane that was never meant to be a glider!) to jets. In the days after the terrorist attack on 9/11, when all air traffic was grounded nationwide, he was asked to provide emergency airlift in his plane as part of the efforts to get whole blood and medical personnel to New York. Bud is an avid mountain climber and has climbed Denali, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Aconcagua and Elbrus, though his most notable mountaineering experience was descending Mt. Everest in 2009 from just below the balcony (27,200 feet) without oxygen after his equipment malfunctioned. He has been involved in several mountain rescues, including rescuing a young lady who fell over a cliff in a remote part of the Caucuses and, together with Bill Burke, transporting a climber stricken with HAPE down Aconcagua in South America. For Bud, faith and family are preeminent in his life. He has led over 20 construction teams building clinics, schools and churches throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. His first book, “Lessons from The Mountain,” comes out in the Spring of 2016. In 2013 Bud joined 6 other bicyclists in a 6-day 1,000 kilometer bicycle ride across the southern part of Africa to raise funds for African Children’s Relief. Bud has been married to Terri for 37 years. They have raised two incredibly successful daughters and are proud grandparents of two bright and precocious granddaughters.
Bill Burke (73) lives in Costa Mesa, California with his bride of 53-years, Sharon. They have 4 children and 14 grandchildren. Bill practiced corporate law for over 45 years in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York. His specialty was international capital markets transactions. He also handled appeals in federal and state courts, and successfully argued cases in the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court. Bill was given 4 Lifetime Achievement Awards by different legal organizations for his work in legal writing and law reform. Like most of his teammates, Bill has climbed the highest mountain on every continent. He has climbed Mt. Everest 6 times, summiting from the South (Nepal) side in 2009 and the North (Tibet) side in 2014. He is the oldest person living outside of Asia to summit Mt. Everest and the only person to reach the summit of the highest mountain on every continent after reaching age 60. In May of 2014, the Government of Nepal named a mountain after Bill in the fabled Himalaya Mountain Range. This mountain, “Burke-Khang,” is the subject of the expedition. Burke blog.
Jenna Green is originally from the Great Plains of North Dakota. She currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota where she works as a Nurse Practitioner in a busy family medicine practice. This will be Jenna’s third trip to Nepal. Her first taste of Nepal was in the Spring of 2012 when she trekked to Everest Base Camp and participated in a Wilderness Medicine CME course. She loved Nepal so much that she returned in the Autumn of 2014, specifically for medical volunteer work in rural villages west of Kathmandu. This upcoming Burke-Khang trip will be dual purpose for Jenna. After trekking with the Burke-Khang team, she will again travel west and volunteer in rural Nepal before heading home to Minnesota. In her free time, Jenna enjoys drawing, painting, cooking and traveling. Her most recent outdoor adventure took her to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in February of 2015.
Rebecca York (30) is originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan and now resides in Newport Beach, California. She works for a non-profit hospital as a Physical Therapist, specializing in vestibular rehabilitation. She has a 15-year amateur running career, including 4 marathons, 25+ half marathons and 1 triathlon. She enjoys curling with the Orange County Curling Club. Rebecca’s times at higher elevations have been with a snowboard strapped to her feet in the French and Swiss Alps, Whistler, Snowbird, Jackson Hole and Mammoth. For the past 6 years, Rebecca has volunteered with the Disabled Sports of USA at Mammoth Mountain as a snowboard and ski instructor. Her hiking excursions have been domestic with her parents and brother while living in Southern California. This summer, in preparation for Burke-Khang, she completed So-Cal’s “6-pack Peak Challenge.” She is looking forward to the mental and physical challenges and excitement of the Burke-Khang trek and being a first-time visitor in Nepal. Rebecca blog.
Martha Levin, currently based in Hong Kong, first visited Nepal in the late 70s on a high school bus trip from neighboring India to Pokhara and the surrounding Annapurna region. Martha has climbed Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Kilimanjaro and she has enjoyed trekking in Bhutan and tramping New Zealand. Being a Hong Konger, Martha has competed in Trailwalker, a 100 km run through the mountains of Hong Kong, originally made famous as a Ghurka training course. In addition to hiking, Martha paddles outrigger canoes. On one expedition, she and 11 others paddled outrigger canoes over 800 kilometers from Singapore to Kalimantan, experiencing a tropical storm, numerous support boat breakdowns and “interested” Indonesian navy gunboats along the way. Most recently, Martha and her team of 6 women took 1st place in an outrigger race across the Pailolo Channel in Hawaii. When she is not out paddling, hiking or traveling, Martha works in learning and leadership development in financial institutions. Any other spare time is dedicated to learning her banjo while enjoying a slice of chocolate cake and nice glass of red at the end of the day.
Daniel Powell, Solana Beach, California, has survived advanced colon cancer and 16 Ironman triathlons on 6 continents. He summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with Denise and Paul Fejtek and completed the Ironman World Championship in Kona with Denise. Daniel ran up the highest mountain in Northern Ireland (Sleeve Donard) and the highest mountain in the Northeast United States (Mt. Washington) twice, once in perfect weather conditions and once in “normal” conditions (white-out with 70 mph winds). He also ran up Mt Whitney, summited and almost died on the descent. He was saved by the generosity of a couple from Boston who shared their warm clothes and tent with him. Daniel is the Expedition’s “bad boy.” Daniel, and fellow expedition member, Kathy Myers, who also lives in San Diego County, traveled together to Newport Beach for a Burke-Khang team meeting. On their way home, they had the guns of the entire Laguna Beach Police Department (6 vehicles and officers) and an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy trained on them. When a passerby started to shoot video of the arrest, a police officer shouted “Get out of the way! You’re in the line of fire.” Until that encounter, Daniel thought “Grand Theft Auto” was merely a video game. (Bonny & Clyde were released after the authorities quickly determined it was a case of mistaken identity) Daniel’s friend, Captain Challenge, is rumored to be joining the expedition in Nepal. Captain Challenge has helped 10 non-profits raise over $100 million.
Last week, I saw “Everest”, the new flim in 3D, and thought of you numerous times. Thanks for the great post and photos. It looks like you have a excellent team assembled for Burke Khang. We’ll all be anxious to receive further updates and, of course, we wish you success!
What a team you have assembled Bill. I wish you safe travel and success in your pursuit of Burke-Khang. Can’t wait for the reports.
I can’t believe you leave so soon!!!!
This is a dream team extraordinaire.
I am humbled.
Bill you are ANYONE’S hero. You do what we would all like to do..and if we could would! Hooray for heroes like you that bring us along on the adventure. Seeing the fluff movie Everest makes me even MORE proud to know such a fine man as yourself. You are the real deal. Be safe..be happy.
Bill, my new crop of sixth graders will be following your journey! You have inspired a huge number of students over the years, challenging them to dream big and follow their hearts. Thank you for being that incredible role model!
Bill, what a fabulous team! Among them they probably speak 20 languages!! God speed and may weather be your friend, and may you turn chance on the mountain into good fortune.
This is an amazing group of people!! I wish you all success on this summit. You are an inspiration to us all! I look forward to Bill’s posts to follow your adventure. I am fascinated by all of your stories and will live vicariously through you!. Safe climbing and good health to you!
What a crew — simply amazing. Best wishes and God be with you all!!!
May God be with you on this climb, on your very own honored peak. What an indescribable gift to a very worthy person. Wishing you a long and healthy life filled with love and happiness.
Bill and Team:
All the best on this great journey. Very fun reading all the Bio’s thanks for posting them. Cathy and I will be praying for safety for all of you.
I wish you and the team the best of luck and hope that the weather will cooperate for this climb. My prayers go to the team of people that you have assembled and most of all for you. Please take the time to bless the people and land in Nepal.
In 1965 I became interested in following Everest accents. In 1972 I (scared to death of heights) I climbed Lembert Dome with my 4 year old daughter. I am still proud and every time I read your blog I recall that trek. Thank you for keeping my memory alive.
Bill, I am so excited to be following your climb. I wish you and your entire team good weather and a successful ascent and descent. Loved reading all the bios of your team, sounds like a terrific bunch of very skilled people that you have assembled for this special journey to the top of Burke-Khang.
Congratulations on assembling a stellar group for your expedition. I wish conditions would have allowed me to be part of it. I will be looking forward to receiving reports on your progress. Best of luck!
Hi Bill,Garrett Is The Best To Be Going With. He Is An Outstanding Guide And Great Person. I Wish All Of You Great Success And A Great Climb. I Am SUper Jelious And Wish I Could Be There. Look Forward To UpdatAs From You AND Garrett On Your Websites. Enjoy
Safe travels to you Sir, wishing you success on your endeavor. You are an inspiration to us all!
i just read your latest blog. Bob is so green with envy (even at (100). He was one of the first glider pilots to land in Normandy on D-Day WW2. A dare-devil then but not by choice for that event . He sends his good wishes for a safe return.
Such an extreme mountaineering adventure. Your team are incredible, knowing that the ascent was really hard but with teamwork you guys were able to make it. I really enjoy reading your post and I highly appreciate your effort of including the information of your guides, It is very helpful especially for those who have plan in climbing those summits.