Sis Speaks Up

October 19, 2016

Costa Mesa, Ca.

Dear Family & Friends:

One of the hidden costs of high altitude mountaineering is the emotional toll on the family. I am highly sensitive to this issue, which is why I have u-turned on Mt. Everest 4 of my 6 climbs, even though I was less than 1,000 feet from the summit and all the hard climbing was behind me, and why I u-turned on Burke-Khang last Fall, less than 500 feet from the summit.

My sister, Martha, left me a private message yesterday in response to my post. With her permission, I am sharing it with you. Her feelings are mirrored, if not exceeded, by every member of my family. I am blessed with a supportive family, but, if this expedition was put to a vote, I would be home watching the World Series in October.

I love Martha and my family beyond the capacity of word to express, and I promise to be safe on the mountain.


“Well, for a moment I was elated that perhaps the weather was going to have some impact on this trip to Burke Khang but read a little further only to read that “lift off was in 5 days from LAX”. I know that my feelings are impacted by the fact that this whole fascination with climbing these mountains are exciting to some, I’m just not one of them. So I don’t understand and as a result I feel some anxiety and fear about you going. I’m sure you can understand that. I know you will make smart decisions, and some hard decisions in some cases also, because you have done that in the past with good results. I have to trust that you will do that again. Of course there’s more unknown to this mountain since it’s never been summited before (and there might be a reason for that) but I know that you are going, the decision’s been made and the plans are in place. I will keep you in my prayers for a safe return for you and your group.

It was such an honor for the wonderful people in Nepal to honor you by naming this mountain peak after you. You are a fabulous example of what a truly great American man is, and a great representative of the USA. But please keep in mind it was an honor, not a challenge. So if at any time you feel at all uneasy about your next step please make that tough decision again to make it home safely.

I love you, you’ve been the best brother and you better get your ass home in one piece.

BTW, don’t forget your flag.”


Version 2
Bill, Sharon, Brother Jeff, Baby Sister Martha, Brother-in-Law Craig


16 thoughts on “Sis Speaks Up

  1. Excellent post, Bill.

    Not only is the sentiment mirrored by members of your family, but also by many of your friends!
    Best wishes on your adventure. We’re all confident you’ll make the right decisions, when needed.


  2. Bill, you indeed are a very fortunate fellow … as you know, I and many other folks wish you the best of luck on the mountain, and please continue to exercise your good judgement while climbing. Good luck and go scale that peak.

  3. Bill, Good Luck and God’s Speed on your trip.

    I know exactly how hard it is to live with such a challenge as I’ve been in that situation many times. Yes, at some point we must remember that we can reach that next ridge or peek on another day. The important thing is that we have that opportunity.

    We’re all counting on you to succeed with your adventure and finally make it on that summit to plant your name there in person. Be Safe, we expect you back to hear more stories and share more adventures with us!

  4. Hello Bill,

    The Knox Men’s Fellowship at First Presbyterian Church of San Diego will hold its next breakfast/program on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Many of the gentlemen present were in the audience last January when you shared your adventures. I plan to announce to the group a progress report on your pending ascent of Burke-Khang and share your website address. You can count on another support group of men who will be following your “every step.” And, you can count on a extensive prayer group as well. Blessings,

    Doug Brown

  5. Bill,
    Martha’s comments–pure, heart felt love. We would all agree that with the greater obstacles and greater challenges there is always greater risk. There is also greater reward achieving at a high risk level, but many of us do not have the capacity. You have it and, God willing, you will be successful.



  6. Dear. Mr. Burke,

    What a beautiful note from your sister!

    You may not remember me, but we met in late 2012, when you spoke at a center in Burbank. My husband, Shaun Clark, is a parter at Sheppard Mullin. Several years ago, he forwarded the link of blog to me when you made your first attempt to climb Everest. After following your story on that first attempt, I was hooked on your adventures! When you are climbing, I wait and pray every day for an update from you. When you are not climbing, we patiently wait to hear what your next amazing adventure will be.

    Thank you for pulling us into your world – It’s like you have become part of our family! and we also pray for your safety as you take on Burke-Khang once more. We know you will exercise safety and make smart decisions and we will be standing by, waiting for the daily updates from you. All the best to you from the Encino Clarks!!

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