Woodinville climber reaches great heights

Todd Burleson

Professional climber Todd Burleson.

mountaineer by Karen Diefendorf
Todd Burleson, a 35-year-old Woodinville resident, left Jan. 3 for another adventure that the most daring of us only dream about.
   He already has the distinction of being one of only 25 climbers to reach the highest peak on each of the world's seven continents at least once.
   This year, he hopes to be the first to reach each of those peaks twice.
   Burleson, who runs Alpine Ascents International (AAI) out of his Saybrook home, boarded a plane Wednesday to begin the trip that will ultimately lead to the top of Mount Vinson, the tallest peak on Antarctica.
   The professional climber and expedition leader first flew to Los Angeles, where he met the four climbers he will guide to the summit at the South Pole. For the two-week trip each of the four paid $25,000, much of which went for travel costs.
   From L.A., the group, along with the necessary supplies and equipment for the ascent, were flown to the southern tip of Chile, where they boarded a C-130 airplane which took them to an ice runway 600 miles from the South Pole.
   There, they had to dig a small airplane out of the snow and ice in order to fly it the final two hours to the base of Mount Vinson.
   Reaching the base of the mountain, they face a 16,000-foot climb which will be made in the round-the-clock sunlight of an Antarctic summer.
   However, the temperatures in that southern-hemisphere land will be only about 20 degrees below zero even on a pleasant, sunny day.
   Regardless of the conditions during the many climbs Burleson has led throughout the world, the members of each climbing expedition have become very close. "In fact," he said, "my best friends have been my clients."