A legacy of adventure

January 11th, 2008

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Sir Edmund Hillary passed away today of a heart attack, at age 88.
He was the first man to stand atop the world’s highest mountain, together with his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
It has been 55 years since the first ascent of Mount Everest.
I wonder how he felt when he finally stood on top of Everest after so many failed expeditions before his.
He was also so humble to the point that he only revealed that it was him who first set foot on Everest only years after Tenzing’s death. There have been previous controversies about who was the first man to reach the summit.
I guess to him, it wasn’t about the fame and glory, but rather it was about the brotherhood.
He also did alot for the people in Nepal, he helped funded and built schools, hospitals, health clinics and airfields. Nepal was a place that held such a special meaning in his heart.
Although he is no longer present, I believe his heroic and selfless deeds and his legacy of adventure and exploration will continue to live on.

When we embark on our Everest climb in mid March, which is also the 55th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest in 1953, I believe it will also be a climb to remember Sir Edmund Hillary, together with Tenzing Norgay, for they were the ones who showed the world that it was humanly possible to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain.

“The explorers of the past were great men and we should honour them. But let us not forget that their spirit lives on. It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, not for what he may find. ” – Sir Edmund Hillary

ice climbing!

January 1st, 2008

Ice Climbing in Sichuan, China from 20 – 28 Jan 2008

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This is a photo taken by maomao, who went to Sichuan for ice climbing in late Dec together with 2 other MIR guys.
According to her, Kim Boon, our instructor who is currently in China has ‘grand plans’ for us to ice climb up super duper long (and seemingly never ending) ice walls as training for the Lhotse face on Everest. Gulp. Imagine climbing continuously for hours on the vertical ice wall where it is nearly impossible to rest properly. I can suddenly feel my heartrate increase 5 times, as well as the burning sensation in my calves . 
But yay, can’t wait to be off climbing again!

looking back……

December 31st, 2007

It’s coming to the end of the year! Looking back, it has been quite an adventurous year indeed! Some highlights:

1) Trekking in the Hong Kong New Territories with RGS ODAC – they are such a fantastic bunch. Through the girls’ enthusiasm, team spirit and their own unique strengths, i really learnt alot during the trip.

2) Cho Oyu climb – the ultimate highlight of the year. i’ve never been so mentally and physically stretched for such a long period of time. Even when we weren’t climbing and simply resting at base camp, i remember it took me a considerable amount of effort to even walk from the mass dining tent back to my own tent. Inertia was always such an omnipresent force responsible for making you think twice before doing anything that involves exertion. That was also why the pee device proved to be sooo popular instead of trekking to the toilet tent. And drinking that very first bowl of Bak Kut Teh soup prepared by Dr Mok at base camp was and still is one of the best thing i’ve ever tasted. That’s why i always maintain that moments experienced in the mountains and in such hostile environments are truly the best in life.

3) Skiing in Rusutsu Ski Resort in Hokkaido, Japan – love the exhilaraiton and feeling of liberation when skiing down the powder snow slopes (of course that is when you do not actually fall!)  although downhill skiing is fun and exciting, i would love to try cross country skiing one day as i find the concept of a ‘journey’ over a period of time more appealing.  i think my dream journey would be to be able to trek, climb and ski thru a mountain range!

Now that we are only slightly more than 2 months before the big climb, training is going to get more intensive. We are expected to run faster and longer, carry heavier loads, pump more weights and become stronger both physically and mentally. I think sometimes in local training, it’s always easy to want to cut yourself some slack like run a shorter distance, or run a slower pace than you can. Or to cut down on the number of double steps during staircase training, or go a little slower during Bukit Timah circuits. I must remind myself that whatever ‘shortcuts’ that I might be tempted to take now, I will suffer more on the mountain. And I always tell myself that yes although local training might be tough (me and jane always lament that local training is nowhere near what is involved in mountaineering!), but I also don’t want to find myself struggling on the mountain, all because I cut corners during local training. This is possibly the one and only chance I have.When the training regime gets more intensive, it’s also good to place importance on everyday lifestyle habits like making sure I get proper rest and sleep (late nights are out for me), eating healthy food (although I must admit I still indulge in fast food ocassionally!) and also remembering to take my Centrum Multivits everyday (which is not too much of a problem since I have a bottle on my office desk beside my PC and another bottle beside my bed at home!) .  I guess at the end of the day, it all boils down to leading a well rounded and consistent lifestyle, though i know it might seem boring and unexciting to some people. It’s okay, I shall look forward to real life on the mountain!

snow snow snow

December 26th, 2007

Some pictures taken during my work ski trip to Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan. We spent 4 full days skiing at Rusutsu Ski Resort and the experience was awesome! 🙂 it was great to be back in an environment that felt so familiar and comfortable…..  and it was also a good feeling to look up at the slope and know that you can be up there in like mins – in a ski lift!

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me with Lisa Araki, a volunteer with Hokkaido YMCA – in the typical Jap pose. She’s funny! 🙂

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love the wide slopes and powder snow!

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Lisa on the left and Shinbo on the right – both from Hokkaido YMCA and superb skiiers and instructors!

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On the summit of East Mt – and the start of one of the intermediate trails. Gulp, it’s actually quite scary cuz you can’t see the bottom of the slope, only a steep drop off!  

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the kids on the ski trip could ski so well – much better than me! 😛

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students from a high school in Osaka taking ski lessons on the beginner slope

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Organised by YMCA of Singapore in collaboration with Hokkaido YMCA – they are simply superb! and the kids look so cute!

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Sight-seeing in Sapporo after the ski trip

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Site of the Olympics in 1972 – can’t imagine skiing down that slope man

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and finally the farewell dinner at Sapporo Beer Garden. Free flow of juicy lamb… yummy!

hotel

December 9th, 2007

I spent last night staying in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel together with my family. haha yes, you can call it a mini vacation, since my mum always complains that I don’t join the family for family vacations ever since i’ve started mountaineering. Anyway, it was some free gift and it was also quite a fun experience, although i would perhaps feel more comfortable staying in a tent somewhere in the wild as compared to a posh hotel. When you are in the wilderness, it seems okay to do away with social etiquette and all, but in a posh hotel, you feel like you’re supposed to bathe like five times in an hour in order to fully utilise the beautiful bath tub and the bathroom that can probably hold 20 couples for ballroom dancing.

I think it’s amazing how during our mountaineering expeditions, we do almost everything within that small 2-man tent of ours. From resting, to sleeping, peeing, shitting, cooking, changing to bathing (aka dry-cleaning ourselves with wet wipes that are actually not frozen if we are lucky). Once we are inside our tents, we usually do not feel like going out, as (1) there is a huge storm outside and you risk being blown off the mountain once you step outside (2) it is a hassle to put on your boots, which could take like 15 – 30min (3) feeling warm and snug in your sleeping bag, you are simply too tired to go out and (4) you can basically do everything inside your tent, so why go out? However, when I was in the hotel, I simply couldn’t stand staying in the hotel room for long. I felt so restless cuz there was basically nothing to do except switch TV channels using the remote, gazing out of the window to admire the city skyline, opening all the drawers in all the cabinets to see what treasure I could unearth, weighing myself on the weighing machine and climb up and down the relatively high super-single beds to practise my bouldering and down-climbing skills. And all those were completed in like 15 mins.

In our tents, there’s usually so much stuff to do. To melt snow for drinking, we will have to fill up our pots with snow and i personally enjoy the very act of re-filling the pot with more snow as it slowly melts. We would keep topping up the pot with snow until the maximum capacity has been reached. While waiting for the snow to melt and water to boil, we would choose the food to eat (not much variety anyway), but i think being able to look at all the food through a transparent ziplock bag provides some comfort. After that, we would lay out the necessary stuff for eating such as putting a base layer to put the pot on, preparing our cutlery, putting away our pee devices and pee bottles to make sure we don’t add unnecessary ingredients into our food etc. And then the actual eating occurs, which usually takes quite long (of which much time is spent psychoing myself to eat more than I would really like to). Then there’s also the cleaning up after the eating which can really be a pain in the neck if there’s grease in the pot (as we usually use only tissue and wet wipes to clean up). Including all the perpetual stoning, packing and unpacking, these activities can easily take up at least half a day.

So if you had to pay the same amount of money to stay in either a hotel or a tent, choose the latter as it provides a wider variety of activities to sustain you for a longer period of time – value for money!  

December 7th, 2007

nima-karma.jpg My climbing sherpa on Cho Oyu

Nima Karma Sherpa
– I actually ’caused’ him to crack his tooth on one of the abseils fr C2 to C1!

23 years old, from Phortse, 1 son.

Experience: Everest X 5 (2), Attended Khumbu Climbing School (with first aid training)

 mingma-tenzing.jpg Joanne’s Climbing Sherpa

Mingma Tenzing Sherpa 

21 years old, from Phortse

Experience: Everest X 4 (3), Cho Oyu X 2 (2), Lobuche Peak (1). Attended Khumbu Climbing School twice (with first aid training). One week course of medical training at Khunde.

karma-rita.jpg Lihui’s Climbing Sherpa

Karma Rita Sherpa aka Mama Rita

Experience: Everest X 7 (4), Cho Oyu (2), Makalu X 1, Island Peak (4), Lobuche Peak (5), Mera (2), Ama Dablam X 1. Attended Khumbu Climbing School (with first aid training)

kami.jpg Jane’s Climbing Sherpa

Ang Chhiring (Kami) Sherpa

43 years old, from Pangboche, 5 kids

Experience: 37 expeditions, including Everest X 19 (8), Makalu X 1, Daulagiri (1), Xixipangma (2), Manaslu X 1, Annapurna I X 1, Cho Oyu (7), Ama Dablam X 3 (4), Pumori (2), Kusum Khankaru (1), Nuptse X 1. Attended Khumbu Climbing School (including first aid training) and Khunde week-long medical course.

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Danuru Sherpa

At the age of 29, he has been on Everest 11 times and summited the mountain 8 times. Amazing stuff.

29 years old, from Phortse, 2 daughters; Danuru is one of the younger brothers of Panuru.

Experience: Everest X 11 (8), Cho Oyu X 9 (8), Manaslu X 2 (1), Island Peak (2), Pharchamo (1), Mera (1), Attended Khumbu Climbing School three times (including first aid training), Attended week-long medical course at Khunde

December 7th, 2007

I’ll be switching to part-time schedule from Mon onwards….yay sounds exciting, as I would have the whole morning free-ed up to train, do team stuff, attend meetings and basically not drown myself in work. My boss & organisation have been simply great & supportive, giving me the green light to be on part-time from now till March, den I’ll be away for 3 months till June. That’s like half the year gone! Oops! Oh well, I seriously do not know how this will work out…..all I know is that I will have to be more disciplined to make sure I don’t waste the extra 4 hours in the morning away! Starting work at 2pm simply does not give me the excuse to wake up later.
Sometimes it’s simply scary to think we’re only 3 months away from departure.

December 1st, 2007

we had our staff dinner & dance last night and guess what was the theme??

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haha thanks to Jane, I could finally wear something that looks decent and befitting of such an ocassion 🙂

it was great fun and i laughed till my stomach muscles cramped (a good reminder that i should do more sit-ups to strengthen my stomach muscles!). the food wasn’t that great though, the portion was puny, so i did not manage to carry out my grand plan of carbo-loading for the marathon. speaking of which, gulp. oh man, my poor legs….. but i think no matter what, it can’t as bad as our 19 hr summit day on Cho Oyu….i know it, it can’t get that bad.

currently i’m faced with yet another predicament – should i stay or should i move on?
faced with choices like these, it’s indeed difficult to decide. how do you know what you want? how do you which is right for you? how do you know there won’t be any regrets? how does one make a decision??

=)

November 22nd, 2007

Things to feel =) about:

1)this afternoon my bro sms-ed me saying that he will be sending an email out to all his friends and colleagues to publicise about our fund-raising projects as well as our Everest climb next year. Such a simple yet sweet gesture =)
2) my manager bought 16 calendars from me today too! that makes her the second highest individual buyer after kim boon, and well if you ask me, that’s actually quite an expensive gesture! touched man! 🙂
3) my mum also sold 1 calendar to her colleague in school. 🙂 well although it’s only 1 calendar, i find it sweet cuz as i mentioned before, she doesn’t really approve of my mountaineering stuff but yet she took the trouble to ask her colleague to support me.

ultimately, i know the calendar sales will not contribute that much towards the amount of $ needed to climb Everest. however, i think it’s through all these simple gestures, support & encouragement from family and dear friends that really spur us on and make this a team effort. it’s never only about the mountain…..

November 17th, 2007

Yes, do support us by purchasing one (or more!) of our limited edition 2008 Calendars!

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How my office desk looks like! I have on my desk some pretty useless and useful items –
Useless items:
– black & white earrings displayed purely for aesthetics purposes
– magnetic panda card holder (which somehow happens to be black & white) given by Jane that can’t contain more than like 3 cards
– a zebra-like looking thing (black & white again?!?) that looks quite friendly, but really, it does nothing much. besides, i’m really not a big fan of animals 😛

Useful items:
– little figurines of climbers (complete with ropes and backpacks!) stuck on the upper portion of my computer monitor, to remind me that it’s probably much better to be embarking on some adventure as compared to facing the computer for 8 hours everyday at work.
– nice photos of our previous mountaineering expeditions that I put up, again to remind me that there’s a bigger world outside, something more exciting beyond my office cubicle, and they also do wonders to distract me from my work 😛
– Centrum Multivits, which functions to keep me healthy and hence turn up for work every day (and hence the need for more climbing figurines and climbing photos!) 🙂

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