Archive for August, 2007

Hello from Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Hello everyone!

Today is our 3rd day at Cho Oyu’s Advanced Base Camp (ABC) and it has been snowing non-stop for the past 2 days. Today is the first good weather day where the sun can finally be seen! Thank you for all the emails you guys sent and i apologise if i am not able to reply to all of you as all of us have limited time using the laptop…..but we should be glad and thankful that at least we can send out and receive email updates!

Our campsite here at ABC is built mainly on rocks, rocks and more rocks and it is nearly impossible to navigate around in my fake black crocs that i had hoped to be able to walk around in. At 5,660m, hardly any action goes by without panting. Although our toilet tents are located a mere 5min away (depending on how much you pant, and how urgent your toilet need is), walking to the toilet tent seems like an expedition in itself.

Our toilet tents are located down a steep drop from our tents and really, i believe fixing a rope leading all the way there would be much safer. At night, i have taken to peeing in my tent (using a pee device and into a ziplock bag of course!) so as to save the trouble of dressing and trekking to the toilet. It’s times like these that I really miss my toilet at home, and even my office’s toilet. 😛

The past few days at ABC have been spent sorting out our gear and packing our high camp food. The amount of food we have in store is quite riduculous and i think it is definitely enough to keep us alive for at least 6 months.

All of us have our own “happy” food, basically food to keep us happy and sane when we are climbing. We have stuff like XO sauce, Marmite (i’ve developed a liking to licking marmite off a teaspoon :-P), mamee, hello panda biscuit (the vanilla flavour kind), bak kwa and of course the shrimp paste that my mum so lovingly prepared for me. It’s especially sweet because she specially prepared the shrimp paste for me although she does not really support and approve of my mountaineering stuff. (she still doesn’t understand why I can’t stay home and help mop the floor). Thanks mummy – i promise to help mop the floor when I return!

The rest of the time is simply spent resting, playing bridge and “decorating” our tents. It is important for us to feel comfortable here at ABC as we will be here for the next month or so. Some of the climbing sherpas have beautiful “walkways” lined with pebbles and some plants leading into the tent vestibule – which is truly amazing if you see the amount of effort that goes into the construction.. Some of us tried ‘renovating’ our tents to create a nice walkway but I felt super tired after moving like 5 rocks. Sigh.

My average heart rate here is about 105-110 bpm (as compared to 62 bpm recorded in Kathmandu – 1800m) and percentage of oxygen saturation is about 78% (as compared to 98% in Kathmandu). Our bodies are definitely working harder at this altitude to try and circulate more oxygenated blood around the body. We are actually the first team to arrive here so it’s been relatively peaceful and quiet…. we feel as if we have the whole place to ourselves!

However, the peace will be disrupted about a week later when the other expedition teams (consisting of about 500 climbers) arrive! It will definitely feel like Orchard Road then…. Tomorrow we will be running through our technical ropework before moving up to Camp 1 (6,400m) the day after. That’s when the real climbing begins! For now, i’m looking forward to the setting up of the shower tent (complete with shower head and heater) so that we can have our first bath in like1 week! – that is if the weather is good.

To all the MIR peeps – thank you for all your encouragement and especially the useful advice from Terence, Yenkai and Ernest 🙂

To Darrel – Glad the ITE students are progressing well in their training!

To RGS ODAC – thanks for all your well wishes and i look forward to sharing more when i return!

To Kenneth & Cheng Puay – ermmm i’ve already pee-ed inside my tent already 😛

Thanks for all your prayers and till the next update! Do read more about our dispatches on

Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp
28 Aug 07, 11.40am

5 August

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Today was yet another day of technical training at SAFRA Yishun. The only times I ever venture to the northern part of our island are always for rock / ice-climbing or technical sessions. We practiced jumaring up fixed ropes on the 18m slab walls, before abseiling down another more vertical face. And we take turns to do this several times… Although it sounds really exciting, those people who have seen us must have thought we’ve gone slightly mad. We were actually doing all the ropework wearing our high-cut trekking boots, carrying our backpacks and wearing gloves. What happened to the snow?!? Well, let’s just say that we have stuff that’s really too valuable in our packs (and boots) to be left behind while training. Even though we were trying to replicate certain conditions when climbing, it can never ever be the same. Although the weather could possibly be similar (in the day when the sun is shining bright and there’s no wind of course), the breathing would definitely be different. Somehow, hauling yourself up on a steep face of ice/snow proves to be so taxing that you need to stop and take many breaths after a mere couple of steps. If you are focused and conscious enough, you will make yourself develop a rhythm for climbing and breathing e.g. stopping to rest for 5 seconds every 5 steps. If not, you will simply do what you can to haul yourself up the slope. I remember breathing and panting so heavily on one of the fixed rope sections on the Third Sister Peak in the Siguniang mountain range in China that it really felt like having a prolonged asthma attack. On our upcoming Cho Oyu expedition, we will need to climb up a steep 50m ice wall at about 6700m enroute to Camp 2 ….. and all I can say is gulp.

And we have new gear!! ? Thanks to Campers Corner for helping the team obtain some gear sponsorship from Marmot! We received a 35-litre pack, wind jacket, wind vest, Goretex outer jacket and pants, a cap and Goretex XCR gloves. They’re simply great and it always feels so good to have new gear, especially when we don’t have to pay for them! While we were at Campers awhile ago, we were opening the packs like little children eagerly opening Christmas presents on Christmas day, anticipating what’s in store…and certainly, every item taken out simply added joy to our faces ? I think I can probably hug my new gear to sleep tonight…