This project has been 5 years in the making. I was invited to climb K2 by Khoo Swee Chiow just before I flew off to Everest in 2012. That idea had been planted in my head ever since. I couldn’t go with him that year as I was going to start work again in July 2012 and there was too little time to change plans. I was planning to go last year but due to the lack of sponsorship, my plans were foiled again. However this year, things seemed to fall in place and the man above seemed to be giving the green light.

It was a tough 6 months from Jan till June this year. I was looking for sponsors, training, working full time and sorting out permits, equipment and logistics for the climb all at the same time. It wasn’t easy. As one gets more senior at work, there seems to be a ton of more responsibilities and each time I tried to clear a certain duty, more fell on my shoulders. I was struggling daily to keep my head above water. Training to be a surgeon is no easy task. Never did I imagine that I would be at this stage in my orthopaedic surgical residency career and would be taking a break again to climb. I will be defaulted by another year to exit and complete my residency. But I realized that this was the last chance I probably had. This was a hurdle standing in my way before planning to start a family. There was a ton of resistance from work, family and my wife but as time went by, they realized that I had put my mind to it and I was serious about what I had committed to. They gradually became supportive as well. The last few months have also been a very spiritual journey for me. Unlike my journey on Everest, there isn’t a real reason as to why I should be sacrificing so much, working so hard and risking my life to climb K2. I have been asking myself why this strong attraction, why this much compulsion, why this need to climb. The more I thought, the more I realized I didn’t have an answer. However, the more I made time to think, reflect and pray, I have realized that this was something I have to do. It was more than just a hobby and a thrill seeking behavior. I couldn’t explain. However I hope to be able to articulate the reason as time goes on during the climb.

I’m currently in Skardu (2500m) in the Northern most Gilgit Baltistan territory in Pakistan. This is the last place with readily available wifi and mobile reception. We’ll be starting our 8h jeep ride to Askole (3300m) tmr and then starting our 6 day journey on foot to K2 Base camp (5000m). I arrived in Islamabad on the 14th of June and met the rest of my team before flying to Skardu on 16th June. We had a splendid clear day and got a glimpse of the massive Karakouram range and the mighty Nanga Parbat (the 9th highest mountain in the world but the 2nd most deadly of them all). We have been restocking the food items, packing and sorting out paper work for the last 3 days here in Skardu. My K2 team comprises of 2 Americans, 2 Icelanders (1 climber and 1 video/photographer), 1 Norwegian, 3 Chinese (who’re all trying to be the 1st Chinese to complete all 14 8000m mountains) and myself. We will have a support team of 9 sherpas, 4 Pakistani high altitude climbers and 5 cooks.

I will endeavor to update this blog if I can borrow satellite wifi from my climbing partners. Else pls see my personal fb page or climbeverest2012 fb page for occasional updates.

I will also be raising funds for 2 charities during this climb. I’ll be raising funds for the Home Nursing Foundation (HNF) as well as the Singapore National Stroke Association and fund raising efforts will go on till the end of the year. The details of my charity effort and the dedicated programes for which the funds raised will be channelled to can be found at (for HNF) and (for SNSA). Please spread the word and donate generously.

A big shout out to all those who’ve helped out in 1 way or another to have made this climb possible!

May this season be gentle on the climbers and may everyone be safe and successful on the mountain.

View of Nanga Parbat from the air. The deadly mountain which claimed 31 lives before it was first sumited in 1953. It remains the 2nd deadliest mountain in the world to climb.

View from Concordia Motel in Skardu. Beautiful snow capped peaks with the Indus river winding through the valley.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Story from 5 years ago – Everest Summit Push!

Story from 5 years ago – Everest Summit Push!

Almost 5 years have passed and I still hadn’t gotten down to writing the last segment of my climb. I’ve no excuses but would being busy at work be a reason good enough to spare me from assault?

As me and Gayathri returned from Nepal to Singapore on our silk air flight on the 3rd of June together with my secondary school teacher Mr Krishnan, I was in for a pleasant but embarrassing surprise. The captain of the plane welcomed everyone on board n something more. ‘A special welcome to Dr Kumaran Rasappan who is here with us. He has successfully scaled to the summit of Mt Everest and raised money for charity in doing so. Congratulations Dr Kumaran’. As the other passengers started clapping, I sank lower in my seat hoping that no one would realize it was me. It seemed that Gayathri and Mr Krishnan were more excited on the news than me.

I was surprised that only the 3 of us together with another couple were the only ones who got off at Singapore being their final destination. The rest of the passenger were in transit to Australia. Apparently Australia has a high Nepali population. As we were claiming our bags I noticed a huge crowd gathered at out the belt we were at. I didn’t tell anyone other than family abt my arrival. But there was no one else at exiting from there. Oh dear, it dawned upon me that my summit was something bigger than I ever expected. My mom was the first to greet me outside the gate. She hugged me with all her might and gave a kiss my cheek. Something that I had only remembered her doing as I was a young child. Following which media crew engulfed me with thralls of camera flashes. My title sponsors ‘Cerebos’ were present and the alumni and current members of 01 raffles scout group were also present. Sporadic pockets of friends formed the exterior of this group and the rest of my family was nestled quietly at the perimeter. I took to them first. It felt really weird being greeted by so many ppl. I knew it was just everest but I was made to feel like star and that I had done something extraordinary. The months following that memorable day would be filled with media interviews, photoshoots, enquiries from fellow aspiring everesters on everest and numerous talks and lectures to educational/medical / commercial institutions. Till today, I’m still giving talks. Its getting draining but every time I talk abt the mountains, it makes me feel as though I’m back on my climbs again and that gives me the motivation to keep talking. I live on the mountains through the memories and the passion of sharing my experiences.

What’s keeping me busy now? Life has a way of entangling people in the moment and keep them from looking back or forwards. It has been such for me. I’m training to become a fully qualified orthopedic surgeon in Tan Tock Seng hospital and it’ll take me another 2 years to fully qualify. This seems to be another mountain keeping me extremely busy all the time. The life of a specialist trainee is not easy at all. Sleepless nights, exams after exams, long hours, on calls, studying and doing research in the only free time you’ve got left. I love medicine but honestly, I’d rather be on the mountain anytime. Life was straight forward and simple. U take one step forward and you know you’re one step closer to your goal of the summit but in working life, no matter how much you struggle, the end product may not seem to be in sight. Another mountain to climb indeed.

Where did I last leave everyone hanging? On the final days of the climb during summit push. Let me take things from there and complete the loop.

It was 2am and my alarm clock rang. This time I knew that it was the last time I would be waking up early from base camp. Our last cycle and also our summit push! We ate breakfast, put our gear on and bid farewell to everyone staying behind. We had done this a couple of times now but there was a different feeling this time round, everyone was more solemn. There would be summits and there would be disappointment but what we were all worried abt was if everyone who bid us farewell would be seen again.

It was the quickest trawl through base camp. But as the sun began to rise, we clearly could see that the ice was certainly less stable as the season was drawing to a close. There were a lot of mini avalanches with ice drift spinning past us as we crossed the ice fall. I remember this scary moment where part of the western shoulder broke off in front of us and all of us ducked. After a few seconds till we waited for the wind to settle we realized that it had only been a small avalanche but it was sure damn scary. I was certain that this summit window would be the last for the season.

It was a quick rest in camp 1 and by the late morning on the same day, we were fast on our way to camp 2. It was a pretty scary experience trudging to camp 2 this time. Although I clocked the fastest timing, the route was sprawled with dangers which we had not experienced before. The season was getting warm and ice from either sides of the western cwm (Nuptse and western shoulder of Everest) had started breaking off. This made the section prone to avalanches and there were huge blocks of ice and rock spewed all across the cwm. Some parts of the straight forward route had to be modified as large crevasses had formed very close to the main route. We saw a few small avalanches along the way as well as a huge one which had us kneeling just to avoid the spin drift. I started wondering how the situation would be when we made our return a few days later.

Sitting at the top of the berschund, the IMG camp site was the furthest and highest amongst all the others. Just when you think it you’ve reached C2, it would be another half hour climb just to reach our campsite. Even though I had been there a couple of times now, I really felt exhausted this time going for almost a full day from base camp straight to C2.

A quick and early breakfast the next morning and we were up the Lhotse face by sunrise via the new route, just to the right of the old one, avoiding the rock fall danger that the previous route possessed. I was fired up as I climbed. Somehow with renewed energy and motivation knowing that this would be the last time I’d ever be coming up this route again. The climb was also made easier from the foot-steps carved into the ice by all the many climbers.


View from C3 looking down on the cloud filled Western Cwm with Pumori in the background

As I climbed, I was relieved when I saw the first tents starting to appear but it would be another 1.5hours before we reached IMG’s C3. We were moving much slower up at this altitude but were happy that O2 was finally made available. We slapped on our O2 masks, set the regulator at 0.5L/min and started resting. I didn’t know it but my body was being recharged much faster as compared to resting without O2. For the first time throughout the expedition, I was going to sleep with O2. Drifting in and out of sleep, I was truly yearning for the next day to start as I forgot how uncomfortable it could get sleeping with O2 from my memory of Cho Oyu.

It was an early start the next day just as the sun hit the Lhotse face. For the first time in this expedition, I was climbing with O2 and it made a HUGE difference. I felt strong and was rather fast compared to ever before. We were soon scrambling up the yellow band in about an hour after setting off. The yellow band was a really tiring vertical 30 m segment where crampons had to spark and screech on rock. I could see the queue of climbers behind us waiting to clear the segment. Soon, we reached the Geneva Spur where we could see the branching trail which led to C4 of those climbing Lhotse. We carried on west towards the south col. Before I knew it, I got a glimpse of C4 perched delicately amongst the ruins of previous expeditions on the beautiful South Col at 7900m. It was a rather quick climb from C3 to C4 which took me about 3.5hours.


Clearing the Yellow Band at about 7800m

C4 was a very dry, isolated place with dead bodies hidden amongst the ruins of shredded tents and plastic and used O2 tanks from almost 60 years of expeditions. For the first time, I could see Everest, from a different angle, standing there right in front of me in all her glory. I was wondering how in the world I was supposed to climb that remaining 1 vertical kilometre towards the sky in just a few hours. I had reached literally the highest point in my life thus far and the scary face of Everest loomed in front of me. While I was eating and resting, I had to mentally prepare myself for what seemed how a soldier would feel before starting his strike on his enemies at war. I knew I had to give my 110% but didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive. It was a sobering thought that kept me from sleeping for the rest of the day. We rested from about noon till 8pm and then we were off on the same day.


A different view of Everest from the South Col. A shear vertical additional 1 km more to go!


Resting with O2 in C4 waiting for the summit push in the evening

With the O2 set at 2L/min, I was fast. The difference I felt with climbing with O2 was like night and day. We climbed past the triangular face and into the unknown. There I came across my encounter with my first dead body on the slopes. On the 19th of May which was the 1st summit window, there were over 200 climbers vying for the summit which caused a traffic jam. Many were asked to return due to their O2 tanks running low. 4 climbers who reached the summits died on their way down to C4 as their O2 ran out and they were left lying beside the main path up. There was this person lying still on the snow as I was climbing. Initially I thought he was resting but when he lay motionless for the next 10 mins as I passed him, it occurred to me that he was one of those who died on the 19th. I encountered all 4 of those who died. We had to literally go around and cross them as they blocked our path. It was a sobering experience and even though I had seen dead people as a doctor, this was different. I was reminded of my own mortality as I knew I was going to do exactly what they had tried doing a week back. Before my mind could sink deeper into this fear, I had to shake myself out of it and get my focus back on.

I reached the balcony at about 8400m where we had our first O2 tank change. My mask was only off for about 5 mins but within that time, my fingers and toes started freezing up and I started panting harder. It was -40deg Celcius and I was in the death zone where O2 levels were about a third of what was available at sea level. Sherpas choose to climb with O2 not because they can’t make it to the top without it but as it keeps them warm. I clearly knew what a difference it made with O2 that moment. When I was resting in the dark for that few moments, I saw this female climber getting dragged up the slope by 2 sherpas on short rope. The 3rd Sherpa quickly removed her pack, her down and made her comfortable. The climber looked like she was in a terrible state. She couldn’t talk, was gasping and before she knew it, the Sherpas changed her tank and got her back onto her feet even though she was pleading for a few more moments of rest. I really thought she wasn’t going to make it down alive.

With a new tank, it was time to tackle the rest of the south east ridge. The sun began to rise around 4.30 am and it was truly an unforgettable sight. When people ask me now, what the most memorable part of the summit was. I undoubtedly always tell them that it was this moment when the sun rose and finally I could see how high I had climbed; to see the Tibetan plateau on my right and Nepal on my left with the shadow of Everest cast upon Nepal – unforgettably mesmerising. I was looking down upon Lhotse by that time and I knew the summit couldn’t be that far away. I finally reached the south summit and had a view of the true summit just a stone’s throw away but I knew it would be another few hours before I got there.


A view of the true summit taken from the South Summit. The Hillary Step and the queue of climbers that a waiting to clear the segment can be seen.

The knife edge ridge followed the south summit. There was already 2 way traffic by this time with people who had already summited returning back. The 1 way rocky face just before the Hillary step was extremely difficult to manoeuvre with this 2 way traffic. There were dangerous instances where we had to clip off the fixed lines for a sustained periods to allow climbers to pass. Soon I reached the Hillary Step. 10metres of vertical rock which stood between the summit and a climber achieving his dreams. It was harder than I had expected. I was panting so hard just after completing it and had to turn up my O2 to 3L/min just to catch my breath. I knew now why it was considered the crux of the climb.

As I passed the Hilary Step and climbed higher, I knew there was no further obstacles that stood between me and the summit now. I knew that 4 years of preparations and hard work was going to be paid off. Though a hundred thoughts tried running past my mind, I was just too tired to be excited. I walked till there was no further land to walk upwards. I knew that this was it. This was the summit of the world!

26th of May 2012 at 0655H (Nepal Time) I stood on the rooftop of the world. I was thankful for everyone who have seen me through till this moment and for God to have allowed me to achieve this feat.

Prayer flags covered the summit and there were about a dozen people at that moment celebrating their triumph. The walkie talkie sounded “Congratulations, now get down as soon as possible”. I knew the dangerous of staying atop for long. I quickly got down to business. I took out my sponsor flags, took videos and photos and had a few moments for myself. I had dreamt of this moment for a long time but when I was actually realising it at the very moment, I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I’d be. My mind was a blank and I was thinking about the perils ahead on the way down. The sense of satisfaction, elation and exuberation were emotions that I had dreamt I’d be feeling on the summit but none of that surfaced. I was extremely exhausted and the feeling became even more overwhelming when I knew that I was only halfway done. I had to go back down. Within 20 mins, I was climbing back down again.


The proudest moment in my life! Standing on the summit of the world with the Singaporean flag! 26th May 2012 t 0655H (Nepal time)

Coming down was harder than going up. I had to give my fullest concentration to each step, else I knew the consequences. Slowly, I made my way down to C4. Had my first drink in over 12 hours. Picked myself up and made my way down to C2. I was totally exhausted and dehydrated by the time I reached C2 close to 7pm. It was a 23hour summit push no food and minimal water. I got a shock when I peed that night. There was blood in my urine! I realised that I had exhausted my body so much that it started breaking down my muscles in order to get energy and what I saw was a phenomena called myoglobinuria – where the red pigmented myoglobin from the muscles got excreted from the urine due to muscle breakdown as the body didn’t have enough energy stores. Scary but relieving as I had some medical background and knew that it wasn’t life threatening. I scrambled into my tent to get my much needed rest and nourishment.


The giant pyramid shaped Makalu in the background as climbers decent from the summit

The next day, with renewed energy, I was hurrying back to BC as fast as I could hoping that the rest of the melting ice would not crumble on me while I was passing. The celebrations awaited. It was indeed a much anticipated and welcomed event after the 2 months of hardship. Only then did it start sinking into me what I had accomplished.


Celebrations at BC with the customary Sherpa baked cake. We knew the task was accomplished finally after 2 months of gruelling hard work, determination, perseverance and sheer strength from within.

My journey wasn’t over just as yet. Mr Krishnan had already made his way down to KTM and was awaiting my arrival there and Gayathri was waiting for me at Phortse. We still had to go to Gorkha to deliver the computers to the students there. I made a long 1 day journey from BC all the way to Phortse on the 28th and reunited with Gayathri after almost a month. We were back at Lukla by the next day but had to take a helicopter back to KTM. The weather was bad and we could not fly out by regular twin otter planes.

My Everest adventure concluded with me reuniting with Mr Krishnan and Netra Mani Kattel, the ex-headmaster of Shree Saraswothi higher secondary school in Gorkha, in Tibet Guest House in Thamel and then proceeding to Fire and Ice café to finally savour good city food after being away on the mountains for almost 3 months.

Many things have happened since then. With me updating my blog after 5 years, as you may have guessed, many more things are about to happen. I’ll disclose the information slowly over the coming weeks.

Currently however, there are 3 Singaporeans trying for the summit of Everest this year. The NTU-NIE team comprising of Yusrina, Jeremy Tong and Dr Sara. Let us all wish them the best of luck for this season!

1 Comment

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Uncategorized


Everest Summited!!

I stood on the top of the world, on the summit of Mt Everest (all 8850m of it) on the 26th of May at 0655H. As such I am the only Singaporean summiting this year and the only Singapore who has climbed Everest for charity ever.

It was a hard journey up and although Everest is getting more commercialized every year, I would totally disagree with anyone who says that getting to the top is getting much easier. We took 2 days to get down to base camp and I am totally exhausted right now. I will begin my descent to Lukla tomorrow and hope to be at KTM by the 30/31st. Then we shall commence our 3rd segment of our journey, assistance at the school at Gorkha.

More updates will follow once I recover more of my energy and there is better internet connection down valley.

Thanks all for your support. I definitely would not have been able to have done any of this without all your guys.


Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Life in Base Camp and Final Push

The fixed lines have finally been laid to the summit and we have our 1st summiteers (the rope laying team Sherpas) for the season. It is not usually normal for fixed lines to be completed so late in the season, but I’m just glad that its finally done and teams can now proceeded to the summit. The hybrid team from IMG, along with many other teams, has positioned themselves strategically in C4 ready to push off for the summit during the narrow summit weather window on the 19th and 20th. Today, we had some of the 1st summits from the climbing clients of this year’s expedition. There are over 250 climbers (sherpas and clients) on the high camps on the mountain at the moment ready to opportunities on the weather window on the 19th and 20th. The IMG classic team (which includes me) is waiting it out at base camp for the 2nd weather window which opens on the 25th.

Everyone in base camp is anxious but trying to keep calm at the same time waiting for the start of our summit push. We’ve been staying healthy and taking the occasional treks to GorakShep and Pumori Camp1 to stay acclimatized. Since everything has been so intense till now and all my blog posts have been so nerve wrecking, I have decided to calm myself and my readers down a little before I leave for my summit push (which most likely will be on the 21st). Many may be wondering what happens in base camp when climbers are not climbing. Thus I have decided to dedicate this blog post to describe base camp and its surroundings and what happens during the many rest days when we’re not climbing on the mountain.

A typical rest day begins at 8am when the cooks bang pots and pans indicating that breakfast is ready. Then we have about 3h before lunch at noon. Usually if nothing is planned, the team takes it easy by enjoying the morning sun, reading a book and doing other personal administrative work like tidying up our tent, laundry, shower etc. There is only about 1-2h of strong sun where we can consider ourselves comfortably warm everyday and everyone maximizes on the opportunity. The clouds usually come in by the afternoon and the temperatures start plummeting. So, usually lunch is followed by a movie session in the coms tent using our laptops/ipads/iphones etc. Dinner is at 6pm and there usually isn’t much activity after the sun goes down. Everyone usually hurries to the warm comforts of their sleeping bag and calls it a night at about 7.30pm. On other days, there are short treks, oxygen clinics, food packing sessions, medical talks arranged for us.

Below are some photos that have been taken since my arrival in base camp. Enjoy!

Base Camp:

Our spaced out tents in base camp all across the moving and melting Khumbu glacier

Airing our sleeping bags and down jackets on top of our tents during the sunny mornings

Relaxing with a book and an ipod and enjoying the rare sunny warm moments in base camp

The luxurious comfortable toilets at base camp. The amazing thing is that its built on top of glacial rocks and ice.

Our kitchen where all the sumptuous meals are concocted. Our humble cooks hiding amongst the condiments

Our communication tent and our recharge station. Solar, battery and generator powered. The 2nd most important place after our kitchen tent.

Our ingenious system of getting heated water for daily use. The barrel on the top has to be manually filled daily. The barrel connects to a communal tap at the bottom via a pipe and the propane gas tank helps heat the down coming water. This is our communal shower, laundry, washing and shaving area.

The bane of staying in base camp for a long period is that you’ve to do laundry by hand and most of the time, the clothes freeze before they can dry in the sun. Me doing laundry after my once weekly shower.

Oxygen clinic

The oxygen clinic we had in the coms tent

Trying out how it would be like on summit day with full gear on.

Seeing how I’d look like on summit day

Treks out of base camp

Ice melting randomly leaving huge boulders like this in precarious positions. There was a campsite situated at the bottom of the slope and everyone prayed that the boulder wouldn’t slip before the end of their expedition.

Dr Luaan Freer and Dr Ashish, members of the main HRA team. Together with myself and Dr Gayathri in the HRA medical tent in base camp.

Everest, Lhotse, south col, north col, Nuptse and the ice fall as seen from Pumori Camp1 during a trek up on one of our rest days

My NUS MIR friends who decided to pay me a visit on their way to climb Lobuche peak

Some medical friends i met along the way down to Pangboche. They were raising funds for a clinic in Cambodia through a pioneering and ingenious way. “Trek for Fund”

A Buddha statue located beautifully with Ama Dablam in the background just above Pangboche

This is going to be my last post before I set off for my summit push on Monday. Expected date of summit is either the 25th or the 26th depending on weather conditions closer to the date. Everyone who is left in base camp is feeling twitchy and can’t wait to get this expedition over with. It has been dragging on for too long for anyone’s good.

At this juncture, I would like to thank everyone who has been there through this epic 4 year journey of mine. What started as a ridiculous arbitrary dream in 2008 after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is moments from being realized after 4 long arduous years. I would not have been able to come close to where I stand currently without all the people who have helped me in one way or another. Thank you all! Special mention to my family and Gayathri who have been so supportive of everything I’m doing despite all the risks and dangers in my journey that they had to endure more than me.

Regardless of the outcome of summiting or not, I’m grateful to god for having letting me experience so much at such a young age. Learning new things, seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. I’ve already been enriched far beyond my expectations. As I always believe, the journey is more important than the destination and indeed the journey has been beyond my wildest dreams so far. The destination – The Summit, will come has a bonus to me but I will put my full efforts into attaining this bonus after such a long struggle. Whatever god has planned, will be.

I’ll see you guys on the other side.


Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


Camp 3 Rotation Complete

I have been out of internet connection for quite some time. Our second and final rotation up to C3 has been complete and most of the IMG climbers had chosen to take their rest days before the summit rotation down in the villages of the lower Khumbu valley where the air is thicker and some traces of vegetation can be found. I have been resting in Pangboche for the last 4 days and have started proceeding to base camp once again.

I met up with Dr Gayathri when I was in Pangboche. She has completed her medical service in 2 villages and has proceeded to Pangboche to finish up with the last part of her 1.5 month stint in the valley. She started off working in Phortse village taking over the clinic where I was at. She then proceeded to Kunde hospital to assist Dr Kami (the resident doctor there) for a week and then returned to Phortse when Lhakpa Yanjee (the healthcare worker at Phortse) had arrived from KTM after her extended maternity leave. Dr Gayathri could finally then proceed to teach Lhakpa Yanjee the essential medical education that would make her more confident, and make the villagers more confident in her rendering medical services to the village. This was the initial plan that we had in the beginning to make the clinic more sustainable but the healthcare assistant wasn’t there for the longest time for us to execute our plan. I was elated to hear the news that we could finally execute what we initially set out to do. Dr Gayathri also went on to conduct mass health education classes on women’s and children’s health to the villagers which on top of being a socializing session for the women of the village, was also well received by them. She is now in the village of Pangboche assisting the health care post there and educating the health care worker similar to what she was doing in Phortse. I am more than happy that there is someone rendering these essential services to the villages when I am not able to be there personally executing our plans. There is no way that the bulk of the medical help to the villages could be rendered without the presence of Dr Gayathri whom I am most grateful and thankful of having in the team.

Our camp 3 rotation proved harder than I expected. The route had been changed due to heavy rock fall on the old route which injured about 8 climbers on the expedition due to the very dry season we were having. The new route had us veering right on the Lhotse face onto a snow ramp which zigzagged up and led us to a vertical ice face. IMG’s plan on our 2nd rotation was for us to sleep at C3 for a night before returning back to C2. On the day we left towards C3, the winds picked up to about 100km/h and we had to turn around just before the ice face halfway up to C3. Exhausted, we were instructed by the guides in base camp to try the route again the very next day. The weather was good the next day and this time we managed to reach lower C3. Even though we didn’t sleep there for the night, it was the highest elevation I had been to (7100m) and it was great acclimatization for our summit rotation.

The bad weather brought with it lots of snow which covered C2. With Lhotse in the sunset in the background.

The bad weather had covered the remaining existing tents in C1

The 1st ice face on the Lhotse wall on the new route where we had to turn around on the 1st day of our acclimatisation up to C3

Most people think that climbing Everest is solely a physical venture. From 1st hand experience, I can say that being physically fit is only half the challenge. Most the time, what makes or breaks people is the psychological and emotional stress on the mountain. Staying away from the comforts of family, friends and the familiarity and warmth (both literal and metaphorical) of home surely takes a toll on every individual. The simplest of things can break you after a period of sustained stress. I was walking in the ice fall about to reach C1 during my 2nd rotation when I heard from the radio that a fellow climber from IMG was calling it quits after he experienced an small avalanche while he was walking in the ice fall just a few moments before I passed by the exact spot. Immediately I got emotional knowing a fellow climber who had gone through the same lengthy ordeal as me was suddenly pulling out due to the dangers involved when I was still choosing to carry on climbing. Listening to his story when I met him in C1 about the avalanche and how he didn’t want to compromise being with his girlfriend back at home, set me back even more. Finding the strong compulsion to carry on after hearing and experiencing these kinds of incidents is always difficult. You keep asking yourself why you’re putting yourself through this ordeal and risking it all when family back at home is worrying as much as you are on your safe return.

The puffed up down suit to protect me against the blistering cold. It added about 50kg to my appearance

At lower C3 with the fierce winds blowing on the summit of Everest in the background.

IMG and Himalayan Experience (Himax) are the biggest companies with the largest number of climbers climbing from the south side of Everest. Each has about 40 clients. It came as a great big shock to everyone at base camp when Russel Brice (who heads Himax) announced that his whole company was pulling out of the expedition this season. The reason remains unknown but many speculate that he had pulled out due to the bad weathers this season which left the ice fall in a very dangerous and precarious state. I wonder what reason he gave his clients and whether there would be many angry lawsuits awaiting him if climbers from other agencies summit this season.

To date there has been 4 deaths on the mountain. 1 sherpa who fell into the craves in the ice fall while crossing the ladder, 1 sherpa who died even before the expedition begun due to alcohol poisoning/AMS, 1 Indian who suffered a massive stroke and another Sherpa who suffered a stroke and fell into a crevasse from C1 to C2. There have been numerous others who have suffered injuries and have had to be evacuated. Other than the frequent avalanches that occur on the slopes surrounding base camp which wakes us up from our slumber, the helicopter noises from the frequent emergency evacuations are another source of disturbance everyday.

There have already been 5 people from IMG who have left the expedition to date. Some due to medical conditions (high altitude pulmonary edema, deep vein thrombosis which was diagnosed in KTM after evacuation) and some due to psychological issues. I’ll never forget something that one of my team mates who had experienced the massive avalanche off Nuptse from C1 to C2, said:

“I have been very lucky so far. I have got to see what I have read about in books for my whole life and that I feel, is already a gift. My ego wants me to reach the summit but I know I’ve got more to loose by doing so. I have respected my father a lot and know how it is like to grow up without one and I don’t want the same thing to happen to my 5 month old child. So for me, this is it.”

The multiple of blocks of ice and debris from the previous massive avalanche from the slopes of Nuptse that lay from C1 and C2

The fixed lines have only been fixed to the south col so far and the weather forbids any further fixing to the summit. The sherpas have been busy ferrying loads up to the south col and storing it there awaiting the right time for them to be transported further up the mountain. My expected summit day of the 15th of May has to be postponed to the 3rd week of May now, due to the current strong winds and bad weather. Hopefully the ropes get fixed soon during some of the good weather window pockets that pop by now and then and all the anxious climbers waiting patiently at base camp can have a go at the summit.

I will be reaching base camp today and resting there till the Everest weather window opens and the ropes get fixed. After which, I’ll have to cross my fingers and trust all the training that I’ve received through the years so far. It’ll be the summit push real soon.


Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


1st Rotation to Camp 2 on Everest Complete

The full fury of the ice fall proved more than anyone in the team had expected. It is an ever changing space of moving glacial ice slowly but surely tumbling towards the ground. Formed between the steep faces of Lhotse, Lhotse Shar and Nuptse, the massive sheets of ice roll menacingly slowly down the Western Cwm. They move so slow that people might think the whole area is a static and safe place to trod on but they’re soon to realize how wrong they are when they take their 1st few steps into the ice fall. Accompanied with the benign slow drifting ice is the terrifying avalanches and collapse of giant seracs which make the whole landscape a dynamic, ever changing and extremely dangerous one.

Navigating the Khumbu ice fall in pitch darkness. The cold of the night ensures that minimal displacement of ice occurs and safety is maximized

As we climbed deeper into the ice fall, the pace started picked up. The Sherpas who knew the dangers of the ice fall were more jittery and were hurrying us along the dangerous segments where huge seracs were outcropping from the main ice blocks overhanging our routes of travel. It was just a matter of time before these seracs collapse on the route but everyone sure prayed that the moment would not be when we were walking under them. After the ‘popcorn field’ was the ‘football field’ – a relatively flat section of ice where everyone would stop for a break. We were receiving news that part of the seracs on ‘Lho La’ peak had collapsed over the ice fall and had wiped out the fixed lines on a certain segment on the route spanning more than 50 vertical meters. We were to climb over the collapsed ice without any fixed lines onto relatively safe territory. Once a serac collapses, the surrounding area becomes unstable and is prone to further collapses. Everyone was rushing through the segment of unfixed lines. As we looked up, the half collapsed Lho La ice seracs seemed perched in extremely precarious positions ready to collapse once more. As my Sherpa mumbled Tibetan Buddhist prayers, he fixed my safety line onto his harness and together we rushed through the dangerous segment. Breathless as I could be after keeping up with Sherpa pace for just 5 mins, I was just glad the sercas didn’t go as we passed them. Click here to see the video of the avalanche ice debris in the ice fall we had to walk past as we were returning back to base camp. (

Climbers sprawled along the route up the ice fall like a trail of ants

Vertical ladder crossing in the ice fall

Up and down and through narrow segments we climbed and jummared ensuring that our safety line was always clipped in. Traffic sometimes becomes a concern when teams going up and down the ice fall encounter each other at narrow sections. Ladders were another concern. Horizontal, vertical, down sloping, multiple ones tied together, ladders with broken rungs, you name it, they were present in the ice fall. There was one ladder segment that I’ll never forget. My Sherpa kept mentioning that this was the area in which the ‘accident’ had happened. A Sherpa who carelessly had gone past this ladder without clipping in his safety line 2 days ago had fallen into the crevasse and had died instantly. His body had to be long roped on a helicopter and flown back to his village down the Khumbu valley. When I peered over to the other side of the crevasse on which the far end of the long ladder was resting on, I saw blood multiple blood stains on the ice and a backpack deep inside the crevasse. As I tried my best not get concerned with the fact that a person had actually died there, there was this still this deep sense of fear that arose as I was nimbly maneuvering the ladder. I was extra cautious and took my time to cross the ladder. I have this ‘Go-Pro’ helmet mount camera, kindly sponsored by my title sponsors Cerebos and BRAND’S(r) which I have been using while crossing the ice falls. Here is the video of this particular ladder crossing that I caught using the Go-Pro camera. (

The cold was also something that I had underestimated. The temperatures are way below zero every night and everything freezes. Water bottles, contact lens solution, pee inside the pee bottle. Even water inside bottles placed inside our jackets while walking can freeze. My fingers had been constantly cold through the climb in the ice fall. I thought that frost bite would be a concern during summit day but never did I prepare myself for frostbite so early in the climb. I warmed my hands beside the stove the Sherpas were using to melt the ice immediately once I reached C1. EBC to C1 took me 5h. I was very worried on how I was going to go on further up the mountain when I was already experiencing problems down in the low camps.

Warming myself up with the team of personal Sherpas in the kitchen tent in C1

We stayed in C1 for 2 nights. We could see Lhotse, the Lhotse face and the whole stretch of the Western Cwm from our campsite. We took a short walk for about 1.5h towards C2 for acclimatization on the 2nd day we were at C1. From where we turned around, we could see the summit of Everest from the Western Cwm, this time from a totally different perspective that I had never seen before. Being already breathless from where I was, seeing the massive summit made me wonder how in the world I was ever going to get there in just 2 weeks time. The consolation was that there was going to be another acclimatization cycle and that supplemental oxygen would be available during the summit push.

Me and my Sherpa halfway into the Western Cwm with Everest in the background

The view of Lhotse, 4th highest mountain in the world, and the Western Cwm from our tent in C1

We then trekked over the Western Cwm towards C2 and spent 2 nights there. C1 to C2 took me 3.5h. C2 was massively sprawled with tents just like EBC. Our guide told us that some consider C2 as the advanced base camp of the south side. Seeing the Lhotse face up close was more intimidating than ever. 1.5 vertical kilometers of 60 deg blue hard ice stood between C2 and the south col (C4) and we knew that we had to scale that treacherous face on our next rotation. The rope Sherpa team started fixing the lines on the Lhotse face that same day and even for them, the route was slightly tough.

Setting up camp 2 beneath the huge seracs on the western ridge of Everest

Standing at the Berschund at the foot of the Lhotse face. Ready to take it on during the next rotation up to C3

Part of the classic team having dinner in C2, an extremely cold but comfortable spot

I have started taking Aspirin since about 1 month ago. Strokes, deep vein thrombosis, central retinal vein obstruction are some blood disorders that are very common here in high altitude. Due to the over production of red blood cells (polycythemia) due to the oxygenless environment (hypoxia) and dehydration during exertion, there is more chance of blood stasis and clotting. The dangers occur when these clots dislodge from the blood vessels and travel to different parts of the body. Aspirin thins the blood and is usually taken by people with previous strokes and heart disease. Since these blood disorders are common here and many famous climbers and Sherpas have suffered stroke here, I’m not taking any chances and will be taking Aspirin at least till the end of the expedition. There seems to be one other benefit from taking the aspirin. Staying here at high altitude day after day, one looses track of time and which day of the week it is. There are days of the week printed on the back of the Aspirin packet (to indicate which tablet you should take on which day) and every morning when I pop the tablet from the packet, it keeps me in check of the day of the week.

The storage of precious oxygen bottles up in C2. Awaiting their transport up to the higher camps once they're established

Coming down from the ice fall, personally seemed to be more dangerous than ascending. They always say that most of the fatalities on the mountain occur during the descent. This is due to the sheer exhaustion and lack of concentration one experiences once they give it all they’ve got to reach the summit. One false step, or one moment of being lazy by not clipping in your safety line is all it takes to plunge into one of the deep crevasses in the ice fall. Even though I just reached C2 during an acclimatization climb, I was feeling extremely exhausted as I tried to keep up with my Sherpa who was rushing down the dangerous segments of the ice fall. My crampons did get caught with each other and I did trip during the descent but thank my lucky stars, I was clipped in and was saved by the safety lines. It sure woke me up during the early morning descent. The ice fall is a place where no climber or Sherpa feels comfortable traversing but it has to be done to reach the upper camps from the south side of Everest. Thus IMG is taking as much precautions and minimizing our travel to and from the ice fall.

Descending from C2 to C1. Halfway down the Western Cwm just as the sun hit Pumori in the background

Just as we reached base camp, there was a huge avalanche up between C1 and C2. One of the giant seracs hanging off Nuptse along the Western Cwm had broken off and slid down into the valley which sent a huge gust of wind and ice on the floor of the Western Cwm. One Sherpa from another team got swept into a crevasse and had broken a few of his ribs and vertebrae. He had to be heli-evacuated back to Kathmandu for treatment. A few camps in C1 were taken out during this avalanche as well. IMG’s C1 campsite was safe as with all the other climbers in the Western Cwm at the moment. Once again, we were lucky to not have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There will be 1 more rotation on the ice fall before the summit push and we are resting at base camp now. We are awaiting the high altitude jet stream winds to shift to the south of Everest before we embark on our 2nd rotation to C3. Tentatively, we’ll be moving off on Wednesday. Its nice to be back resting in the relatively warmer conditions in EBC with the good camp cooked food. Taking about warmth, food and familiarity, I miss home a lot and can’t wait to get back. I’m already making a list of food I want to eat when I get back.


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


1st Acclimatization Climb up Lobuche Peak (6000m+) and Icefall Dry Run Completed

There were 2 camps at Lobuche base camp. One was dominated by the green tents of Russle Brice’s team and on the other side of Awi Peak, was the yellow tents of IMG. We had to take the longer detour to the other side of Lobuche to reach our campsite. For the 1st time, I was trekking with my climbing team mates and gosh, they were super fast. We practically didn’t rest at all during our 4h fast march from EBC to Lobuche Base Camp. I thought my 1 month acclimatization stay at high altitude would be of some help but it turned out that these fellows were doing much better than me.

The IMG climbers were split up into 3 main groups – the hybrid team, the classic team and the Lhotse/ Lobuche climbers and EBC trekkers. I was part of the classic team -which meant that each climber would have 1 Sherpa attached to them throughout the climb and the whole classic team would be under the oversight of 2 western guides. There were 15 of us in the classic team. The hybrid team would also have 1 Sherpa attached to 1 climber but on top of that, there would be 1 western guide to oversee every 4 climbers.

Since there were so many climbers/trekkers coming along with IMG during this expedition, they split the groups into 3 and had them flown into Lukla at different times so that there would not be overcrowding at the lodges and so that the logistics could be planned smoothly. Thus I was with the 2nd group climbing Lobuche peak. My team had a Latvian couple, a German lady, a Norwegian guy and myself (Singaporean). The rest were Americans. So sometimes, conversations would get rather stale as the Americans would go on about jokes and conversation topics only Americans would understand.

High camp with the view of the beautiful Ama Dablam in the background

We reached Lobuche base camp (4800m) and stayed there for a night before heading up to high camp (5200m) the next day. It was an early rise for us that morning at 0245h to prepare to head off for the summit. We left camp at 4am sharp and were along the way up the mountain. The sun started rising at 5am and it started getting warmer and the vertical vastness of the mountain was finally revealed. Crampons were adorned at about 5.30am at crampon point and from there onwards it was jummaring up the fixed lines all the way up the steep slopes of Lobuche peak.

The team on the way to high camp from Lobuche base camp

It took me 5h to reach the summit. The fastest members in my team had gone up in less than 4h and were already on their way down even before I hit the summit. On the way up, I met this Swiss lady who was the only women to have climbed all the 14, 8000m peaks without supplemental oxygen. That was quite a memorable moment. I didn’t know who she was but there was this lady smiling and leisurely walking down the slopes of Lobuche without any safety lines and as she passed me, she told me to take smaller steps to save energy. Only later did my Sherpa tell me who she was. Inspirational indeed. On the way up, I also met Khoo Swee Chiow (from Aconcagua) and Jamling (my Sherpa from Ama Dablam) and their team of climbers who were attempting Lobuche peak. It was extremely heartwarming seeing familiar faces after being alone in a foreign country for sometime. We just stopped in our tracks and had a conversation at 5900m which was to the annoyance of other climbers who were trying to pass us.

Jummaring up the steep sections of Lobuche peak

The view on the summit was excellent. We could see nearly all the mountains of the Khumbu valley (except Cho Oyu which was being blocked by the true summit of Lobuche). Even though it was just an acclimatization climb, the view form the summit made everything worth while. We could see the jet stream blowing the ice and snow from the summit of Everest. Everest seemed super high and far from where we were. I was wondering how I would ever be able to stand on the top in a few weeks time. The anxiety of summiting Everest (at times like this) gets the better of me and the nervousness of how I’ll ever do it starts playing repeatedly in my head. Pushing away negative thoughts and taking one step at a time doing the best you can at each step is something I’ve learnt to do through this journey. The end might seem so immense and impossible, but if one was to take bite size pieces at the task ahead, everything may become possible.

Me and my sherpa at the summit of Lobuche with Everest in the background

My proud sponsors on the summit of Lobuche

In 2009 when the NUS MIR 8 team had our island peak and EBC expedition, for the 1st time, I saw the massive beautiful Khumbu ice fall standing right in front of me. There I was wondering when would be the next time I would have a chance to return to this majestic place and maybe even be fortunate enough to traverse across it.

The Khumbu Ice Falls which inspired me in 2009

I’m resting now at EBC and waiting for my rotation on up to Camp 1 and 2 on Everest itself. We will be heading out tomorrow climbing into the icefall and into the western cwm. Its exciting to just think about it. The hybrid team has already set off and is at Camp 2 at this moment. Its exciting but scary at the same time thinking about how we would be maneuvering across the ice fall. Each night when I’m sleeping in my tent, I’d be woken up by the sound of huge avalanches all around us in the ice fall and from the surrounding mountains. The best time of the day to navigate the ice fall would be at night as the temperature would be cold and there would be no sunlight to melt the ice. This maximizes our chances of making it through the icefall safely without any seracs breaking off or being caught in any avalanches

We just finished our dry run on the ice fall this morning. The ice fall proved more challenging than I thought it would be. Even though it looks relatively flat from afar, there are a lot of steep sections with fixed lines and jummaring involved. The ladders are a whole different story. We only walked into the ice fall for about 2hours (for practice) before turning back but we had to cross 4 ladders bridging huge crevasses by then. I heard that there were a total of 21 ladders till we reached camp 1. Walking on crampons over 2-3 light weight aluminum ladders with a few broken rungs tied together with flimsy ropes overlooking an endless crevasse was a harrowing experience. This was accentuated due to the fact that it was my 1st time on the ladders. Since I had arrived out of sync with the main team, I had been deprived of the crucial ladder practice in base camp. My Sherpa however, ensured my smooth passage across the ladders and took his best efforts to ensure my safety. Click here to view a video of my Sherpa teaching me about the ladder crossing during the dry run in the ice fall.

Everything went smoothly during the dry run this morning. None the less, the Khumbu ice fall is the most dangerous part of climbing Everest and the most number of deaths (both from the north and south side) occur in the Khumbu ice fall. Our team will take the as much precaution and I will be as careful as possible. May god look upon and protect all those who traverse past the ice falls.


Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Uncategorized