Headed for the Top
Sean Burch, extreme athlete and mountaineer, wants to train you to climb Mount Everest.
By Jackie Adams
Sean Burch always dreamed of climbing Mount Everest one day but, like many people, he relegated it to the list of things to be done “one day.” The death of his beloved grandfather stirred Burch into action, and he decided to change his dream to a goal. Over the next 15 years, Burch became the first Virginian to summit Mount Everest, won eight world records for extreme athletic accomplishments, became a motivational speaker and wrote the book “Hyperfitness: 12 Weeks to Conquering Your Inner Everest and Getting Into the Best Shape of Your Life.” Now, Burch has partnered with Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, to create Two Years to the Top, a two-year program that will train anybody to climb Mount Everest so that they can turn their dream into a reality, too.
Salamander Magazine: How did you first get into mountaineering?
Sean Burch: My grandfather was a big influence on me, and he became very ill, so I went to visit him and it turned out to be our last visit. To see this man that I looked up to so much sit there and say, “You know what the worst part about dying is? All these dreams and goals that I have in my mind, now I know I’ll never achieve them.” It had me in tears. And then he said, “I don’t want that to happen to you.” So after he died it finally kind of hit home; that’s when I said, you know what, I’ve always had this goal of climbing Everest, I’m just going to do it. … And then it kind of expanded after Everest to all of these other world records—[I thought,] if I can do this, then what else can I do?
When you look back on all that you have achieved, what are you most proud of?
Everest is probably the most special to me, because that’s when I realized just how precious life is, and also what I was capable of doing. I felt as if when I was sitting on that summit I was sitting next to my grandfather, and I realized how much more there is to life and just to enjoy every single second of it. And that’s why I wanted to do Two Years to the Top, because Everest can change someone else’s life. I’ve met many, many people who are extremely wealthy and are just riddled inside with miserableness. What I’m trying to do here is reach people to get the best out of them and help them achieve their dreams and goals.
Can you tell us about Two Years to the Top and how you got started doing this program with Salamander?
I do a lot of public speaking, and I always ask: If anybody had the time and money and physical ability, would they want to climb Everest? And at least half the audience always raises their hands. It really blows me away that a lot of people want to do it but they just don’t know how to go about doing it. So my thought was to create this program where it will probably take about two years of daily training, if not with me then [with] daily communication, and me keeping up on their workout program and them having to follow strict guidelines and different things like that. … My big thing was I didn’t want them to have any [prior] experience; I wanted to mentor them and train them the correct way to climb the mountain. I mean, if you have a base, that’s fine, but the idea was no experience preferred.
What does your personal daily fitness program look like?
I do a program I created called Hyperfitness that I wrote a book about, its like a mental, physical and nutritional program. All three are very important, so I combine them. You can’t just do a physical workout and think, “OK, I can do anything I want to.” It starts and ends with the mind. Then you get to the physical, and of course the nutritional is just as important. … [The program] is based on how to achieve any goal. Not necessarily Mount Everest—but if you want to do that, that’s great—but if you want to run a marathon, you want to run a 5K, something that you never thought you could do, that’s the goal: to take something that’s very deep within you, where you think, “I can’t do that, that’s for someone else.” And that’s where I say no, you can do it, and here’s how. So it’s that type of program. I train every day; I don’t ever take a day off.
Time to Train
Currently, Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, offers the Two Years to the Top package with Sean Burch where guests can prepare for their own Mount Everest climb. Burch will dedicate two years to the guest and prepare them physically and mentally for the 29,035-foot climb with Salamander Resort & Spa as the training ground. Guests will stay at the resort for one week every six months as well as one weekend stay every month as they train, recover and push themselves to the limit with one-on-one training with Sean Burch.
The Two Years to the Top training package starts at $260,000 per person and includes:
- Five one-week stays at SRS; one initially and then every six months after
- Twenty weekend stays at SRS; once a month until the six month mark
- Daily spa treatments while on-property; customized based on need
- Daily cooking studio kitchen time for meal prep
- Full access to pools, bike rentals and fitness center
- Salamander Resort & Spa branded workout gear
- Daily communications 24/7 with Burch
- Active and daily meditation instruction
- Take-home daily workout plans
- Take-home daily meal plans
- Option of joining Burch on separate expeditions