Sean Burch '92 takes another world record
Multiple world record holder and fitness expert Sean Burch ‘92 has returned home from Fujiyoshida, Japan, after breaking a world record for the fastest winter ascent of the world's most climbed mountain in the world, Mt. Fuji. In January, Burch ascended in snowshoes from Mt. Fuji's Umagaeshi Shrine entrance to the summit in 4:05:42, enduring frostbite, swollen hands, temperatures colder than -20 degree F and severe high winds.
Winter conditions on Mt. Fuji are equal to those found on 8000m Himalayan peaks such as Everest, with hurricane-force winds, snow and sub-zero temperatures. In previous winter attempts, climbers have been actually blown off the mountain.
"Over 300,000 people try to climb Mt. Fuji each year, but only handfuls try in winter due to extreme conditions," stated Mt. Fuji Ranger Akiba Keita. Considering these obstacles, the official climbing season is just two months.
Burch trains year round for these types of extreme adventures, and before setting the world record, he acclimated to the bitter weather on Mt. Fuji for several days by trekking through the deep snow and jumping rope in snowshoes. Burch carried his own gear and used GPS navigation and eyewitness accounts for time verification. "As Fujiyoshida City Hall's Coordinator for International Relations, I confirm Sean's time and believe his winter ascent achievement is worthy of recognition," declared Andrew Smith.
Burch worked in partnership with The Fujisan Club, Japan's leading non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Mt. Fuji. "Being the most climbed mountain in the world, Mt. Fuji is a symbol for world environmental preservation, and it is crucial that everyone continues their efforts to not only protect the most recognizable image of Japan, but all of the world's outdoor icons and nature," said Burch.
Burch, a native of the Washington, D.C., area, sought to welcome President Barack Obama to his new job in a special way. Burch said, "I wanted to show my respect and appreciation to Obama by honoring him with this accomplishment. I hope he leads the charge for change in the U.S. and throughout the world. The Japanese were ecstatic on his inauguration to say the least," said Burch.
Burch has been compared to Lance Armstrong by USA Today and has been described as "one of the world's top extreme adventurers" by National Geographic. As well as being the author of the fitness book Hyperfitness® (Penguin), Burch has set a world record for the fastest ascent up Mt. Kilimanjaro, won the North Pole marathon in world record time, reached the summit of Mt. Everest in a solo effort and climbed a record 63 unclimbed high-altitude Tibetan peaks in a jaw-dropping 23 days.