The Mountain Is Calling and I Must Go

Costa Mesa, Ca.

September 11, 2017

Dear Family & Friends:

On September 18, 2017, I will be returning to Nepal for another attempt to climb Burke-Khang, my eponymous mountain. The projected summit date is October 5.

As usual, Asian Trekking is organizing the logistics for this private, non-guided climb. I will be accompanied by two climbers, a trekker and a filmmaking crew. Jeff Oppenhiem, the New York-based filmmaker, hopes to produce, for commercial distribution, a full-length documentary film featuring my relationship with Ollie, with Mt. Everest and Burke-Khang serving as metaphors for overcoming physical challenges–age in my case and disability in the case of Ollie.

Ollie is now 17. His condition remains pretty much the same. His progress is slow and he still has the cyanotic episodes that defy medical prognosis and treatment. But, he soldiers on, climbing his own mountain every day of his life. Two weeks ago, he and I completed a 50-mile bicycle ride from Newport Beach to Oceanside. Since he weighs well over 100 pounds, this was a good workout for me in preparation for the BK climb. Ollie is fascinated with water, so I take him to the pool, beach and lakes as often as possible. I have been wanting to take him on a river rafting trip for years, but was a bit concerned about safety. Last month, I decided to go for it, and we rafted down the Kern River in California. I have never seen him so worked-up, happy and excited.

I am working on a book project with my daughter, Amy, who is Ollie’s Mom. The book will have the same theme as the documentary film. We hope to publish a book that helps people overcome life’s obstacles and motivates others to reach out with a helping hand. So far, we have a lot of interest from editors and publishers. This will be a long term project, but we are excited to be doing something that will be inspirational.

I’ll be posting Burke-Khang expedition reports as usual. You may find the photos a bit more stunning than past trips because some of the content is being created by professional photographers.

A list of climbers, trekkers and filmmakers will be provided in the next post.

As always, I place my full trust in the Lord, and I appreciate your interest, good thoughts and prayers.






30 thoughts on “The Mountain Is Calling and I Must Go

  1. Ollie looks thrilled to be white water rafting!! What an adventure.

    I look forward to following you on this trek and hope that a summit to the top of your mountain is a possibility this year. The footage from the helicopter ride over was breathtaking! Prayers to you and your team.


  2. Bill…I knew you would be back on that mountain and this time you will be on the top. Our prayers are with you for a safe trip. I don’t know much about Ollie or his disability but I am curious for a personal reason. Would you care to tell us about his illness?
    Lee Butler

  3. Dear Bill,

    What a joy it is to see your blog again. Your photos of the raft trip with Ollie are so happy and uplifting. You must be the best grandfather on the planet. The world is better for you being in it for sure. God will protect you and I am encouraged that the book you publish will be one of extraordinary interest to everyone. I will be first in line for an autographed copy. God Bless you I know HE does.

  4. The photos of you and Ollie white water rafting are fantastic. No question he thoroughly enjoyed it. He must have experienced the same adrenaline rush as you on a big mountain.

    I never thought last year’s expedition was your last to Burke Khang. Prepare well and be safe. I anxiously await your reports.


  5. Bill, Once again you amaze me with your courage and big heart, my Danny was a recipitent of that big heart and I will be forever greatful. You and Ollie are my heros. Youre going to summit this time. Love and prayers for safety and success
    Mary Jane

  6. Bill, I was just thinking of you and was about to call you for any last tips before I leave for the high Khumbe area. Congratulations on your upcoming trip. What will be your itinerary. I leave October 7 and fly to Lukla on the 15th headed to EBC. Kala [email protected] the 25 th and back to Lukla the 28th. Would love to see you there. Staying at the Shangri la Hotel. This time your going to the top and my prayers are with you all the way. Pat

  7. Bill,
    Glad to hear you’re going up again, wish I could join you. We’re headed to Idyllwild this week end, that’s my version of “going up” ;o) Wish we could meet at Tengboche.
    Missed your blog and all the things you do with Olie. You’re the greatest !
    All the very best on this expedition. You’ll do it and raise a flag on the top.
    Bud Swanson

  8. Hi Bill,
    Great photos of Ollie! Indeed, he could not have a better Grandpa and pal…
    Just wanted to add my best wishes on your upcoming adventure on Burke Khang. We look forward to your posts…
    Warm regards,

  9. You are the absolute, ultimate coolest-dedicated grandpa. I can see you are a blessing to each other. I send my prayers. it is really great to be able to share you journeys of climbing and with your precious grandson. You go grandpa. And God speed. Looking forward to your new journey👌

  10. As always you will be in our prayers daily and God will be at your side always As I have said before Ollie has one fantastic grandfather and he is also in Gods hand. Looking forward to your reports and pictures

  11. Bill,

    You are wished God speed for this journey. Every step is covered in prayer. I will keep the men’s fellowship informed of your progress. Please let me know what I can do to support this climb.

    Doug Brown

  12. Bill,
    Ollie is one of the MANY blessed to have you a part of their lives! You are an inspiration to us all. I will keep you in my prayers and hope beyond words that you have one last successful climb on your mountain! Make sure you read your departure time again and again before you leave! haha


  13. Bill, you are the most adventurous person I have ever known. It is such a privilege to be able to read your postings and follow your travels. Keep safe and may God hold you tight in his hands

  14. You inspire me beyond words. Thank you for being there when I need you the most – a blessing to

    me. Wish there were more Bill Burke’s and Ollie’s in the world. Prayers for safety and hugs to


  15. Bill, here now on the Camino De Santiago, we will be praying in every church for your complete BK trek success. We are not home until October 18th–your posts will keep us updated. Blessings.


  16. Bill,
    An inspirational story!

    I am a freelance editor in Bellingham, WA who was recently informed of your interest in writing a book. A fellow ghostwriter gave me your name.

    I am a former member of The Mountaineers and have done some novice climbing (Mt. Baker). Originally from NY, I started trad climbing in The Gunks. Kid stuff compared to your feats. 🙂

    More importantly, I am a journalist, editor and proofreader specializing in non-fiction stories: memoir, outdoor, survival and adventure. I’d be happy to lend an editorial hand in some capacity to your book upon your safe return.

    Best wishes to you and your team. Please reach out when you’re ready.
    Jennifer Karchmer

  17. Dear Bill,

    Yay! So glad you answered the call! 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing updates and seeing the photos as you climb your mountain, it’s such an great idea to do a documentary. The book sounds AMAZING as well!

    So glad Ollie had fun river rafting, so exciting! Good for him! ( and you) 🙂

    Wishing you all the best, and thanking the entire Burke family for allowing all of us to share in these adventures!

    Sending thoughts of positive thoughts, stay safe. Have fun!

    Judy Petersen

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