Burke conquers world's 11th and 13th highest peaks
Former Timaru woman Christine Burke is again at the forefront of women's mountaineering by climbing the eleventh and thirteenth highest peaks in the world in rapid succession.
Burke joined a small club of climbers who have conquered 'The Double' of Mt Gasherbrum 1 (G1) and Mt Gasherbrum 2 (G2).
The Sydney-based mountaineer said generally people do not try to climb 'the double' due to the small chance of getting two periods of good weather to summit and having the strength to do both. She also said G2 was more of an endurance test than G1, which was more of a technical challenge.
''On G2, although it had been a tough climb, the day was as perfect as I have ever had and I felt I had climbed well.
''As soon as I reached the summit I really took the time to take it all in. I could not believe the view and that I was seeing India, China and Pakistan all at once.''
Once Burke started climbing, things generally went well. She said they did experience high winds above camp 3 on G1.
''Some other teams' tents were blown off the mountain. Other climbers set off for their summit push only to be forced to turn back to safety due to the same winds.''
Burke said at one point it seemed likely that there would be no chance to ascend, but patience paid off as the weather improved she and her sherpa, Lakpa, were able to reach the summit.
Burke said the climbs were marked with sadness, given a number of tragic climbing-related events that happened in the region while she was there, including a number of climbing fatalities that season on K2 and G1.
There was also the terrible event in Nanga Parbat where 11 climbers were attacked and killed days before Burke's departure from Skardu.
''We were so terribly sad for the families and friends of the climbers and for the good people in Pakistan who deplore such violence.
''We also had to do some thinking as a team, so we sat down and went through the pros and cons, and did our own risk assessment, with the assistance of information we were receiving from people within Pakistan.''
Burke said nearly a week after the tragedy, the Government issued their climbing permit.
''So, then the decision became ours and as a team and we decided unanimously to proceed. We knew there were no guarantees of safety and none of us expected any guarantee."
Burke said they were treated well by the Pakistani people.
''They know the perception of their country in the world media and because of that they were extra grateful to us for coming in the first place, and then for continuing despite the tragedy at Nanga Parbat base camp.''
Burke is travelling back to Kathmandu and hoping to get a permit in Nepal for one more 8000m mountain for this year.
The former Timaru Girls' High School student, who is now a Sydney-based lawyer and motivational speaker, last year became the first New Zealand woman to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.
Burke hopes her expedition will be especially inspiring to women, as mountaineering continues to be dominated by men with just 10 percent of climbers being female.
''I want to propel New Zealand women onto the world mountaineering map for high altitude climbing. New Zealand women have wonderful attributes that make them prime candidates for taking it on.
''However, despite New Zealand having some of the best climbing terrain in the world, our women are not proportionately represented on the world climbing stage.
''I believe I can contribute to the numbers and climb successfully at high altitude, and can create the necessary noise inside and outside New Zealand to put the world on notice.''
Earlier this year Burke's achievements were acknowledged locally at the South Canterbury Sports Awards when she took away the special 'Home Grown' award.
- Christine Burke received $10,000 for her ascent of the 'The Double' of Mt Gasherbrum 1 and Mt Gasherbrum 2 from Hillary Expeditions.
- Hillary Expeditions are supported by Sport New Zealand, which provides partial funding for each expedition.
- Every second year Sport NZ receives expedition applications from trampers, mountaineers, rock climbers, cross-country skiers, kayakers, mountain bikers, sailors and others.
- © Fairfax NZ News