A passion for peaks

The two recently climbed to the top of the Bank of America Tower along with Navratilova to fundraise for the Laureus Foundation. It was a small preview of the climbing they'll be doing with the tennis star in December and a chance to meet some of the kids the foundation benefits.

The Burtises have set a fundrainsing goal of $6,000, and had made it just over halfway there with less than three weeks until they board a plane to head to Africa.

"I'd like to reach my goal of $6,000, and I'm very hopeful I'll reach my goal by the time we leave," Linda Burtis said.

Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent, making it one of the seven summits many serious climbers endeavor to conquer in their lifetimes.

Neither Linda or David are on a quest to join that ultra-exclusive club, but at over 19,300 feet the summit of Kilimajaro will be the highest point on earth either have stood should they make it up next month (by comparison, New York's highest point, atop Mt. Marcy, is 5,343 feet). The altitude presents its own unique challenges. At such heights altitude sickness can strike climbers, potentially causing problems ranging from headaches and insomnia to life threatening internal hemorrhaging. Both Linda and David have been above 13,000 feet in the western U.S. and handled it fine, but this time they'll be staying up for much longer.

To prepare for the trials of a long and difficult journey, the couple has been training every day and taking excursions into the Adirondacks, Berkshires, Catskills and Green Mountains on the weekends.

"It's going to be something way out of what I've normally done," said David Burtis. "There's going to be pushing myself, and that's going to be exciting."

But one thing about Kilimanjaro that attracts climbers the world over is that despite its great height, it's not a technically demanding hike. Still, it will take the expedition a full week to get up and down.

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