Former Dunedin resident Chris Jensen Burke scales Ama Dablam, which she says is a favourite of many climbers going to Nepal. Photo supplied.
Former Dunedin mountaineer Chris Jensen Burke carries a taste
of home when scaling the world's highest peaks.
Ms Jensen Burke is preparing for her first attempt at the
summit of K2, the second-highest mountain after Everest, and
has a healthy supply of ''Kiwi treats'' to sustain her.
She has already eaten her ration of malt biscuits so cannot
make lolly cake, but she has stashed away a few cans of
reduced cream and packets of onion soup for the ultimate New
Based in Sydney, the 45-year-old lawyer gets her supplies
from a specialist Kiwi store in the city.
''I always stock up before I leave for climbing trips,
although I usually eat most of it before I start.''
The University of Otago graduate conquered Everest in May
2011, the fifth New Zealand woman to do so.
She recently became the first New Zealand woman to climb the
highest mountains on each of the seven continents in a feat
known as the Seven Summits, and plans to add a few more peaks
in the 8000m class to her record before the year's end.
But K2 will be her biggest challenge to date.
At 8611m, K2 has the second-highest fatality rate of the 14
independent mountains on Earth that measure more than 8000m
above sea level - the ''eight thousanders''.
For every four people who have reached K2's summit, one has
Speaking from Kathmandu, Ms Jensen Burke said she would leave
for Pakistan about June 10 and the expedition would take
about two months.
She expected to spend five or six weeks acclimatising on a
mountain next to K2 and about two weeks at altitude on K2
''I think it's fair to say it will be the most challenging
climb I've embarked on. It's a very big challenge and not to
"Mountains I've climbed have been getting more technical and
more challenging and you can't look past K2 for physical
difficulty,'' she said.
''It throws everything at you - weather, terrain and
Beforehand, Ms Jensen Burke will attempt Makalu, the world's
fifth-highest mountain and part of the Himalayas on the
She plans to start the climb in two weeks.
If she feels healthy and strong after K2, Ms Jensen Burke
will then travel to China to tackle two more ''eight
thousanders'' - her last climbs for the year.
''If I'm extremely tired or I've lost too much weight, I'll
rest for a few months and probably spend that time in
Australia and New Zealand.''
Her family supports her mountaineering, despite the dangers
Ms Jensen Burke said her parents, who were from Dunedin, died
years ago but her siblings were ''very supportive''.
''They've seen me climb mountains over the years and know I
make good decisions and prepare well. They also know it's
really important for everyone to be positive when preparing
for a climb because mental strength is such a big part of
In 2009, Ms Jensen Burke had a ''close call'' on the world's
sixth-highest mountain, Cho Oyu in Tibet, which shaped how
she has climbed since.
''That was enough for me to really learn to listen to myself
more and trust my intuition and judgement. What I do is risky
but I try very, very hard to manage that risk and I tell my
family I'll come down from each mountain.''
She said it was crucial to know when to turn around and
abandon a climb.
''I've done that a few times because of conditions or because
things just haven't felt right.''
One mountain she has yet to conquer is Mt Cook.
She attempted the Aoraki summit in December 2012 but was
''almost blown off'' and plans to try again some day.
In the immediate future, Ms Jensen Burke wants to complete as
many high-altitude climbs as she can.
''High altitude is so tough on the body and I'm trying to do
it all now while I'm a bit younger.''
Warrington couple Paul and Shelley Hersey will embark next
week on an attempt to climb a never-before-scaled peak in
The seven-week expedition, including 45 days of walking to
and climbing the 6800m Anidesha Chuli, also known as The
White Wave, will begin on April 4.