I am a 79-year old extreme adventure enthusiast. I am married to Sharon Burke, and we reside in Costa Mesa, California.
I attended Stanford Law School and practiced law for over 45 years in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York. My specialty was domestic and international capital markets transactions. I also handled appeals in federal and state courts, including successful appearances in the United State Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court and federal appellate courts all across the country.
In addition to practicing law for clients, I was heavily involved throughout my career in lecturing, writing and law reform. I was honored to receive 5 Lifetime Achievement Awards from different organizations for those activities. Here is a link to remarks made by Roland Brandel when I was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Business Law Section of the California State Bar Association.
I promised my family I would retire from the practice of law when I reached the age of 60. I kept that promise in 2003, although I handled legal work sporadically from 2003 to 2012. Now, I am finally retired for good.
When I first retired in 2003, I decided it was important to take up some kind of safe and sedentary hobby, like golf or tennis. After much thought and research, I settled on high altitude mountaineering. I took a high altitude climbing course in the Cascades and then returned to climb Mt. Rainier. After Mt. Rainier was Mt. McKinley in Alaska, the highest mountain in the North American Continent. I have now climbed the highest mountain on every continent.
I summited Mt. Everest from the South (Nepal) Approach on May 23, 2009, becoming the oldest American to reach the summit and return alive. I was 67 at the time. In 2014, at age 72, I returned to climb Mt. Everest from the more challenging North (Tibet) Approach. I summitted from the Tibet side on May 25, 2014, thus breaking my own record and becoming the oldest person living outside Asia to summit the highest mountain in the world. I am the only person to climb the highest mountain on every continent after reaching age 60. On May 23, 2021, Arthur Muir summited Mt. Everest from the South Approach at age 75, breaking my record from 2009. I am still the oldest non-Asian to summit Mt. Everest from the North approach.
In May of 2014, the government of Nepal opened 104 new peaks in the fabled Himalayan mountain range. One of those peaks was named after me. Burke Khang (“Khang” means mountain) is 6,942 meters (22,775 feet) high and is located between Mt. Everest and Cho Oyu, two of the most famous mountains in the world.
A documentary film “Eight Summits: The Bill Burke Story” took first place in the International Outdoor Film Festival in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 2019. The film was entered in the Mountain Climbing Exploration category and took the top award for “Extraordinary Lifelong Sports Performance.”
I own three motorcycles and have completed many solo tours, including a 6,279 mile round trip from Costa Mesa, California to Banff Park, Canada in 2008.
In 2019, at age 77, I completed a canoe trip the entire length of the Mississippi River, from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The trip spanned 2,300 miles and took 120 days. I am the oldest person to complete such a solo trip.
In the Spring of 2021, I plan to solo paddle the Missouri River from it source near Three Forks, Montana to its confluence with the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. From source to terminus, the River spans 2,341 miles and passes through 7 states. In the Fall of 2021, I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, following the Camino Frances route. The Camino Frances route starts at St. Jean Pied de Port, in Southwest France, crosses the Pyrenees mountains, proceeds across northern Spain and ends at the Cathedral of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela. This pilgrimage covers almost 600 miles.
Sharon and I are blessed with a great family. We have 4 children, 14 grandchildren and a great-grandaughter, all of whom are featured below. In June of 2020, we celebrated our 59th wedding anniversary. My high school sweetheart, Sharon, is the love of my life.
Sharon and I have 4 beautiful children-Lisa, Lori, Dan & Amy.
Here are their families:
- Lisa & Jeff Giger – Chelsea, Josh & Danny
- Lori Burke – Bailey, Blake, Mitchell & Luke
- Dan & Tina Burke – Billy & Gavin
- Amy & Simon Dillon – Simon, Jr., Oliver, Ava, Elle & Danny
Click each photo to enlarge the images.
Nine of our fourteen grandchildren are boys. All of them were involved in high school athletic programs. Mitch was the quarterback for the Corona Del Mar High School football team. In 2010, he led the team to their first league title in 22 years. Josh was a wide receiver on that team. What a thrill to watch one grandson throw a touchdown pass to another grandson. Mitch attended Chico State College. While at Chico, he founded a highly successful company-Pocket Points-with a friend. In 2011, CDM won the CIF California State Football Championship in a thrilling championship game, which CDM won by a score of 14-13. Josh scored the winning touchdown on a 61-yard pass reception. He was the league’s leading receiver and received numerous post-season awards. Josh graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is currently an Emergency Medical Technician in Orange County, California. Luke was a star on his high school football team. He graduated from Auburn College in 2019 and is working in Dallas as a Solutions Engineer at a software company. Danny Dillon is involved in several athletic programs at his high school.
In high school, Simon rowed for the Newport Aquatic Center and competed in the 2017 US Rowing Southwest Championships on May 5-7, 2017. His Varsity 8 Team captured the Gold Medal in an astounding performance. Simon was then asked to add varsity power to the Lightweight 8 boat, which was not expected to stand on the medal platform. His Lightweight 8 team also captured the Gold Medal. In a record performance, in June of 2017, Simon’s Varsity 8 team, took the Gold Medal in the US Rowing Youth National Championship race in Sarasota Floria. Simon is now attending Chapman University.
Billy was Captain of his volleyball team and graduated from the University of Southern California in 2018. Billy works as an Operations Analyst for a manufacturing company in San Diego. Gavin was a star player for his high school la crosse team and is now attending Carnegie Mellon University. He is also working on a social media app.
Danny Giger participated in football and track in high school and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is featured in “Our Beloved Danny.”
Ollie is 20-years old and graduated from the Special Needs Program at Estancia High School. He is now in a Transition Program managed by the school district. Ollie is featured in my Training Partner.
Click each photo to enlarge the images.
We are blessed with 5 beautiful and talented granddaughters.
Bailey graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and now works in Los Angeles as a costume designer. Chelsea also graduated from the University of Colorado and now works as a Marketing Manager for a prominent company in Los Angeles. She is married to Noah Molnar. Noah is Co-Founder and Managing Director of an alternative risk management firm specializing in multifamily real estate. On August 15, 2020, Chelsea and Noah welcomed their first child-Isabella Rose Molnar-into the world. Blake graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University and works in a doctor’s office in Los Angeles. She plans to attend graduate school to become either a Therapist or Physician’s Assistant. Our twins-Ava and Elle-are attending Vanguard University, the top Christian college in Orange County, California.