I am a 78-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) side 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) side. 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.
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 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 2019, we celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary. My high school sweetheart, Sharon, is the love of my life.