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2 Calif. Lawyers Scale Everest in Possible Record-Setting Climbs

Posted Jun 3, 2009 8:27 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Screen shot of the Strange on Everest site.

When Bill Burke won a lifetime achievement award from the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers, the retired attorney wasn't able to accept it in person, the would-be presenter tells the ABA Journal. That's because Burke was climbing Mount Everest.

Although he had to stop short of the fabled mountain's summit on on two earlier efforts, the 67-year-old Californian reached the top on his third try late last month. He may be the oldest American to have successfully completed the climb, reports the Orange County Register.

Meanwhile, another California lawyer, 53-year-old Brian Strange, also helped make history on Mount Everest at about the same time last month by reaching the summit with his climbing partner and 17-year-old son, Johnny Strange, the Polaris public relations agency tells the ABA Journal. They believe the 17-year-old is the youngest American ever to have scaled Everest. Johnny Strange will also be the youngest individual in the world to have completed the so-called seven summits, they believe, once he and his father scale Mount Kosciusko in Australia within the next week or so. Brian Strange focuses his Los Angeles law practice on class actions.

Burke, a former practitioner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton and Shearman & Sterling, trained five days a week for the climb. As part of his regimen, the grandfather of 14 would pull his training partner, an 8-year-old grandson with special needs, in a covered wagon behind his bicycle for 50 miles or so, the Orange County Register recounts.

Burke's website, Eight Summits, provides additional details.

Both Burke and Johnny Strange, on his own Strange on Everest website, describe a perilous passage over ladders apparently positioned high above the mountain's infamous Khumbu icefall. (The Los Angeles Times provides a photo of Strange crossing the crevasse on its Outposts blog.)

The Register provides Burke's description of the experience: "We swapped together four ladders," he says, and "they were damaged and they sagged in the middle. And when you crossed you'd sag down in the middle and the ladders moved. It was quite scary crossing those ladders."

Updated at 1:55 p.m. on June 4 to include information from Brian Strange.

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