COLUMBUS, Ga. – The last time I talked with Bud Allen was a few weeks ago as he was packing his climbing gear before heading to Nepal. He and his six climbing partners hoping to become the first men in the world to summit Mount Burke-Kangh, a 23,000 foot peak about 20 miles from Mount Everest.
“It is incredibly rare to have an opportunity to be on an expedition to attempt a mountain that’s never been climbed. That’s always been in the back of my mind, something I’d love to do.”
Mount Burke-Kangh is named after Bill Burke who Bud has climbed with often. He’s also on this trip to conquer a mountain bearing his name. Burke happens to be the oldest American to summit Mount Everest. Three years ago Bud and Bull were climbing Everest together. Burke summitted, but equipment problems forced Bud to turn around.
“The part for me that’s difficult is that I was close enough that I knew I was going to summit when my oxygen system failed. I had no doubt that I would be on the summit in a few hours.”
It was the third time Bud had attempted to summit Everest. Will he try it again?
“I probably will go back because I just need to complete the circle. The problem is mountain climbing. You’ve got to start all over at the bottom again and Everest is a 2-month commitment.”
For the last few weeks Bud has been in the shadows of Mount Everest, getting in position to summit Mount Burke, but his mindset is a little different on this climb.
“I don’t feel the pressure to summit this one. On a first ascent like this, you know, if there’s anything that causes me concern as far as I think the risks are too much, I just won’t do it.”