Mountaineer faces K2, 'biggest challenge of all'
Chris Jensen Burke has overcome most of the world's major mountaineering challenges, but she is about to face the most fearsome.
In June, the former Timaru Girls' High student will attempt the second-highest mountain in the world - the formidable K2 - and try to become the first Australasian woman to conquer the beast.
"I have had my sights on K2 for a while and the timing is right. I am now comfortable in my own mind," Ms Burke said.
The passionate Sydney-based mountaineer is already in Kathmandu for final preparations.
K2 sits at 8611 metres above sea level and only nine women have reached the summit. Three of them died on the descent.
"I try setting myself new challenges and K2 is the biggest mental and physical challenge that I will ever face but I am very focused and I am ready to meet it head-on," she said.
In 2013, she climbed Lhotse and Manaslu in Nepal and Gasherbrum in Pakistan. Her next expedition is to Nepal's Makalu in April, followed by Broad Peak on the Pakistan/China border.
"I am going to continue doing additional preparation before I hit the slopes of K2 in June," she said.
In 2013, she became one of only a handful of people to reach the summits of four mountains over 8000 metres in a 12-month period. "I did not set out to climb so many 8000m peaks in 2013. I hoped to manage three but knew I was going to have to stay healthy and be quite focused if I was going to succeed," Ms Burke said.
She was hoping to be part of a women's Down Under expedition to K2, but it did not work out.
"I was really hoping to climb K2 with a group of women but that did not pan out because of lack of funding, . . but I am going to climb the peak regardless. I take every mountain seriously and plan as best as I can to manage and minimise risk. But risks remain ... It is the nature of mountaineering and also part of the reason people climb."