Mountain climber Sean Burch successfully completed his solo ascent to the 29,035-foot summit of Mt. Everest, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary. Burch, 32, of Oakton, attended the celebration in Katmandu, and spent his recovery with other "summiteers" including Hilary.
Burch reached the summit without the aid of oxygen, and did not take any supplemental oxygen during his 20-plus hour descent. In one of his Internet postings, he described his ascent to the summit as a "very, very hard slog. The winds were again strong. It just knocks the energy out of you. At one point, I was forced to take some oxygen so that I could continue."
Suffering severe frostbite, primarily in his two big toes, Burch was airlifted back to the Katmandu hospital with his wife Gabrielle, a multi-age teacher at Greenbriar West Elementary School in Fairfax. Burch heads Centreville's Life Time Fitness gym's extreme sports program, and is a personal fitness trainer, martial arts/self defense instructor.
During his trek, Burch also conducted several medical experiments and communicated regularly with his wife's class. Other students in area schools were able to communicate with him through the Web and Iridium satellite communications equipment. Burch called this opportunity to communicate with students through technology as "a real learning experience."
Burch says that his experience of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest "will stay with him forever." Though he has yet to finalize a return to his hometown, his arrangements as well as postings from his journey, can be found at www.seanburch.com.