Costa Mesa, California

January 14, 2016

Dear Family & Friends:

2016 has not started well for me.

I had a freak accident on New Years Eve. Every year, a good friend invites Sharon and I to his New Years Eve party. He is a 92-year old World War II veteran. He doesn’t drink, so no alcohol was served at the party. At 11 pm, Sharon and I left the party to return home. As we left his home, I was carrying a tray of food in the dark, and I could not see my feet. I walked off a curb and fell forward. My left leg was caught in a drainage culvert in the street and the full force of the forward fall smashed my ankle and calf on the concrete culvert. Nothing heroic about this fall.

The pain from the fall was excruciating. But, I was sure I would recover quickly, so I decided to wait to seek treatment. After two weeks, I was still walking with a limp and enduring sporadic spasms of searing pain in my leg. Yesterday, I decided to see a doctor. He told me I severed my achilles tendon.

My plan for 2016 was to return to Burke-Khang in the Spring to attempt an unsupported, fast ascent of Burke-Khang. Two Sherpas would help me fix lines up the mountain, and I would complete the climb in 4-5 days. My doctor told me a Spring expedition is out of the question. I am now wearing a boot, 24/7, to keep my foot in place, and I may need surgery to repair the tendon. Either option puts me out of action for months, perhaps the entire year. This news is absolutely devastating.

Mark my word: I will not let this accident kill my dream. I will stand on the summit of Burke-Khang. My revised plan is for a quick recovery and an Autumn expedition at age 74. If that plan is not possible, I’ll return in the Spring of 2017 at age 75. The mountain beckons, and I will heed the call.

God is good, so I’ll search for the good in this setback.



Burke-Khang from Advance Base Camp






33 thoughts on “Setback

  1. Hello Bill and yes Happy New Year even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. I believe things happen to all of us for reasons that may not be clear to us in the present moment, however I would like to wish you a speedy recovery and suggest that you use your precious down time to write a book about all of your adventures and accomplishments. Remember, it is the journey that is most important and not necessarily the destination.
    You and your family have been an inspiration to me which I share with friends and family. Again, my sincere wishes for your complete recovery.
    After all, Burke Kang isn’t going anywhere and will wait for you when you are ready!
    Best wishes, a complete fan and follower,
    Priscilla Ferreira

  2. Bill,

    At this devastating moment in the new year, I am reminded of the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Life begins on the other side of despair.” With this temporary setback, writing about your expeditions and future plans could be excellent therapy.

    Healing blessings,


  3. I agree with the comments to write during this time. You’re a great writer and will be a great way to pass the time while you heal. Sometimes things happen for a reason and you always have a good attitude about that. xoxo

  4. So sorry about that Bill. LISTEN to the Doctors Bill and don’t push it. My brother in law did that years ago and it really did take months and months to heal. Keep up the spirit.

  5. Praying for the Holy Spirit to fill you and show you what you are to be doing in the meantime. His timing is perfect and you can rest knowing that He has plans of peace and hope for you. Praying for healing, patience and wisdom!

  6. On a hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I fell and bloodied my knee on some rocks. One of the guys in my group said, “every step counts.” So true. I could have fallen off the cliff. Well, now we know every step counts no matter where you are, including the sidewalk. Hope your recovery is speedy & complete.

  7. Ohh Bill;

    I am so sorry.

    I love your grit and determination, and believe that will carry you through.

    Heal well, get strong fast, and summit Burke-Khang.

    I am pulling for you and thinking positive thought for you.

    Love, Lori

  8. Sorry to hear this Bill. Best of luck for a speedy recovery. I broke my achilles once, and I know how bad it is. The key is not to try to come back to exercise too early.

  9. Dear Bill,

    God is good and only he could have “tripped” you up…for a reason. Your job is to heal and listen to HIM. He has your best in mind even now and remember it may not look like what we WANT it to look like…just another kind of mountain to climb and those of us that follow you and care about you wait to see the name of this one.

    Much prayer and love go your way.

  10. Everything is in God’s plan for us. And He has a reason for everything.

    Pray to Him and all of your prayers will be answered. Just look for the signs from Him.

    Prayers heal all.

  11. So very sorry to hear of your accident. Freak accident, for sure. I am reminded of the wise words i pounded into Rebecca’s bracelet for those moments when one might need a bit of inspiration and positive reinforcement. “Mental toughness, fierce determination and iron resolve are the only hope.” And listening to your doctor! Sending you positive energy for a complete recovery.

  12. Really? Wow, that’s a pretty harsh way to get your attention! I noticed you limping the other night. So sorry to find out that this is why. Rest and heal, think and write, learn and love. Hang in there!

  13. Bill, I can only say, OMG! I spent many years taking care of patients with achilles tendon ruptures, from sports related injuries (usually racquet sports in particular), so I am feeling for you. Be sure to change your sock inside your boot everyday if possible, as most of the foam walker boots liner materials, do not breathe. And yes, it will take months to heal. I shall look forward to more of your posts and how you are managing. hang in there…

  14. This news is a “downer”. I know you won’t be discouraged in following your dreams. They give you sustenance. I’m someone who has a great deal of admiration for people with an indomitable and irrepressible sprit to attain their goals if life.

    Bill, during this convalescing time, have you thought of putting your life’s experiences in writing? You are an inspiration to so many people, especially your loving family. Yes, a book not only for your family but your dear friends and your legion of avid followers. And finally the unknowing public to be aware of your singular accomplishments in one lifetime living your remarkable life before re-trying to climb Burke-Khang?

    You are gifted with an excellent command of the English language. You convey your thoughts so well. During this time of awaiting your healing, I hope you will take “pen in hand”.

    You have my best thoughts as I stand at attention saluting.

  15. Bill very sorry to hear of your accident. We pray for a quick recovery without complications. We know you are anxious to get on with your plans. We are looking forward to seeing you in February.
    Wayne and Virginia

  16. So so sorry to hear this. Sometimes what we see as set backs are actually blessings in disguise. May this event be a blessing to you and yours. God’s peace

  17. Bill,
    it seems ironic that with all the danger that you have dealt with a stumble on the sidewalk puts you out of action. I wish you quick healing but caution with the return. I know of at least 2 tennis player who tried to come back too early and have not been seen on the court since.
    All the best for 2016/2017.

  18. Bill. I’ve been following your posts for a very long time and want to wish you a very speedy recovery. Your mountain awaits you and God has his plan for your safe return there. Stay well and all will be as it should be. Looking forward to more of your posts. You inspire all of us.

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