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Monthly Archives: February 2012

New edited Ama Dablam video

After months of procastination, i’ve finally managed to compile and edit all the videos and photos of our Ama Dablam expediiton and managed to create a short 10 min clip of the highlights.

After 2 failed attempts, finally managed to tweak my video and get it un-copywrited on you tube. Singaporean Ama Dablam expedition Nov 2011. My most difficult mountain and my proudest moment on a mountain as well! Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/CkP4Q3sbIDM – HD quality
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUUeYY3TFIY – Low quality

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Touching moment at Prison School

I have been giving talks in Prison school on a pro bono basis before I even started my year off last year through a contact in Hindu society. My 1st interaction with these young boys was when I went to the min security prison in Kaki Bukit sometime in June before I set off for Mustagh Ata in China. These boys are mainly 1st or 2nd time offenders for drug consumption and trafficking and/or petty thefts. Most of the boys were taking their ‘O’ Levels at the end of the year and studying for it but didn’t seem to find motivation and were very disillusioned with life. Many of them were from broken families with very little income and were struggling to earn a living for themselves and for their families thus lured by these easy opportunities to make a quick income by trafficking and thefts. The feedback I got after my 1st sharing session with them was positive. They could identify with me as a young individual setting a goal and achieving my dream through seemingly impossible odds and enjoying myself in the process. I was asked to give another talk after I had returned from some of my trips since the boys wanted to hear about my progress. I returned to this group of about 12 boys in their new complex at Tanah Merah Prison after Cho Oyu. My 1st thought was how I was going to face them after 2 consecutive failed summit attempts in Musatgh and Cho Oyu after having inspired them before my climbs. To my big surprise, they drew more strength from my tenacity to carry on with my journey despite the repeated failures and in general, they were just happy to see me. I had apparently set off news spreading through the whole of Kaki Biukit Prison about my endeavours and the young prisoners of all races and religions were rooting for me and trying to follow my progress through whatever media that was allowed in prison. Many of the boys that I had talked to previously have served their sentence and have been released and I heard some of them were interested in meeting up in person for a coffee outside.

I was once again invited through Hindu society to continue giving talks to the inmates due to the extremely positive feedback they had received through the 1st 2 talks. I agreed immediately. Today, I went to give a talk to another group of prisoners in the tightly secure Changi prison whom were serving moderate term sentence of about 10- 25 years. This time, the group comprised of 32 inmates and their age ranged from 18 all the way to 50+. It felt odd being a young member of the public preaching some values to the inmates who were 2-3 decades older than me. The session fortunately went well and I was requested to return after Everest to give a talk again. I will be giving another talk next week to another group in the max security side for inmates serving max term to full life sentences. Its going to be extremely challenging as I ponder what I would say would motivate these guys who might have lost everything to hope for in life. I am very intimidated at the immense task ahead.

Above all, something unforgettable happened today. After today’s visit, one of the volunteers who had been with me previously for all my talks told me that one of the boys we counselled from the original Kaki Bukit prison had become the top ‘O’ level student in the entire prison and he was also Singapore’s top ‘O’ level private candidate scoring an astounding 8 points! This great achievement was coming from a boy who had failed ITE exams numerous times and had given up on studying and himself all together. This wonderful news came out in the new paper and can be found at (http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20080210-48914.html ). It seemed that after my talks, his tutor noticed him to become more resilient and started practising more maths papers with more vigour and was keen to learn from his mistakes instead of giving up easily. My fellow volunteer friend told me that apparently I had given confidence for him to believe in himself once again. I was almost moved to tears when I heard this wonderful news. Such a small and insignificant sharing session that I did, had made such a big difference in someone’s life. That moment made me realise that all the bleak times where I was about to give up but carried on working hard for my dream was all worth while. That was satisfaction at its zenith. I will continue to follow my passion and dreams despite the difficulties I will face and continue to give my talks to those interested and hopefully I’ll be an inspiration to others as how much others have been an inspiration to me.

“Be the change that you want to see in this world” – Mahatma Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

New Maps/ Videos/ Pictures and Descriptions from the Latino Trilogy

Hi Guys, I have just uploaded pictures and videos of my most recent trip to Argentina and Chilie. You can access them via “Gallery of current climbs” and under the respective heading of pictures and videos. Alternatively, you can check them out at the following:

Pictures from the Latino Trilogy

Videos from the Latino Trilogy

I also did up some maps so that it is easier for everyone to follow where I had been. Instead of just reading text on where I had travelled to and how long each journey took, view the maps. The numbers labelled beside each line of travel (marked in red for vehicular journey and yellow for journey on foot) corresponds to the text below.

Please feel free to view the enlarged map of Aconcagua/ Ojos/ San Fransisco as well as the 3D google earth image of the route we took on Acon.

World Map

1) Departed Singapore Changi Terminal 2 at 2120h on 31st Dec 2011
2) 3H transit in Kuala Lumpur
3) 11H 30min flight to Cape Town
4) 1H 30 min transit at Cape Town
5) 8H 50min flight to Buenos Aires
6) Landed in Buenos Aires at 1300H local time. 1H 30min bus ride from International airport to domestic airport
7) Depart at 1720H to Mendoza. 1H 30min flight to Mendoza
8) 30min bus ride to hotel in Mendoza. Reach NH Cordileria hotel at 2000H 1st Jan 2012

12) 1H 30min flight back to Buenos Aires from Mendoza on the 18th Jan at 0630H
13) 3H transit at Buenos Aires domestic airport
14) 1H 30 min flight to Catamarca

Mendoza to Aconcagua map

9) 4 h bus journey to Puente Del Inca (2725m) on 2nd Jan 2012
10) 30min bus ride to Punta de Vacas (entrance of the Vacas valley) on 3rd Jan
11) From the entrance of the Horcunas Valley back to Mendoza on 15th Jan

Catamarca to Chile map

15) 30min taxi ride from Catamarca airport to Catamarca city
16) 6H bus ride from Catamarca to Fiambala. Reached Fiambala on 18th Jan at 2330H
17) 2H car ride to La Gruta (the Argentinian border hut) on the 19th and then another 3H to the Chilean border post 100km from the actual Chilean border on the 20th
18) 3H from the Chilean border post after stamping our passports to the base camp of Ojos

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Maps of our travels and climbs

World Map

Mendoza to Aconcagua Map

Catamarca to Chilean Border Post Map

Ojos and San Fransisco Map

3-D Map of our Route on Aconcagua


Enlarged Aconcagua Map

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Back home from South America

“Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain. . . . Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall – it’s great when you stop.” – Chris Darwin ,The Social Climbers

 
How true that is. I’ve been hitting my head against the wall not once but 3 times in a row. Maybe what he didn’t mention is that the feel good factor only lasts moments after you stop hitting your head against the wall and that you need to keep going at it to keep feeling good. I keep wondering why I am doing this all the time. Pushing myself to my limit with my lungs expanding and collapsing till they seem to be bursting, with my diaphragm having spams from the extreme contractions,  with my nose dripping away from the cold dry air, with the lactic acid building up in my legs without having a chance to drain, without having a moment to eat or drink anything for 6h straight, with my body eating away itself for energy in the intense burst, with myself wondering why am I doing this just to reach the top so as to take a few meagrely photos and come down just as fast as I went up. Well, that’s mountaineering… And I am doing it for training for the big one – Everest! That’s enough motivation to carry on, don’t you think? It has been tough but really worthwhile thus far.

I reached home on the 1st of Feb and have been resting since. It’s nice to be warm and have basic facilities around the place you stay for once. I can’t believe that I’ve completed all 4 of my training climbs and its time for the big one real soon. More than half a year as flown by and the best part is that everything has been completed according to the initial plans I set out to accomplish from the start. 6 mountains, 5 countries, 4 months climbing, 3 successful climbs, 2 continents, 1 goal… Haha. Sounds too cliché…

Now, I’m in full swing peeps for the big one. I just booked my silk air flight tickets a few days ago and will be leaving on the 11th of march. There’s is just too much to do within this 1 month. Preparations for the climb, training, seeking sponsors (still!), preparations for the medical clinic that I hope to set up in Phortse, trying to manage all the freight to lug to Nepal and maybe helping out in a school in another village called Gorkha in Nepal after my climb and of course not to mention the 101 weddings, receptions and gatherings of friends that I have to attend. I wish I had a little bit more time and a little bit more help.

This trip to South America has been very interesting. Some after thoughts follows.

I didn’t know anything about Spanish except for uno, dos, dres, quadros. Thanks for pitbull’s wonderful song, 1 2 3 4, I know you want me. Only when I got to Argentina did I realise that my comprehensive vocabulary of 1-4 and my finger to point at objects that I wanted to buy just wasn’t going to be enough. We learnt the hard way of nodding at everything the locals were saying and always getting the things that we didn’t want. Then we came up with a theory that adding an ‘o’ to every English word would make it Spanish. Finito, Perfecto, Excellento, Minuto, Wineo, Beero, Beefo. The problem was that it only worked for half the words. So we realised that we had no way but to commit some of the words to memory. So we learnt the most important words. Commedos – food, Ceverza – Beer, Wino – Wine, Carnes – Beef, Aqua – water, La Quenta – Bill (which isn’t that important as they always seemed to give to us regardless of whether we asked for it or just pretended to walk away), Montana – Mountain, Cinto minuto – 5 minutes (when we needed more rest during the climb) and when it was given Gracious – Thank you and Por Favor – Please when it was not given. Spanish is something like Malay. U can put the verb behind or in front of adjective and it doesn’t matter. Actually I’m not sure if we invented our own grammar. What ever the case, we survived South America learning a lot more and realised that if u know English, Mandrin and Spanish, one could probably communicate with at least 80% of the world’s population.

I have never eaten beef before in my life… till I got to Argentina. There have been many times when I went hungry on the mountains as I would refuse eating all the freeze dried food which almost always contained some form of beef in it. I realised that if I went to a country where beef is almost like their staple diet and refuse to eat it, I would starve. So I made an exception that I would eat beef only during this trip. For a non beef eater, what can I say about Argentinian beef? Its probably the best meat out there. Further more everyone kept saying that the Argentinian steaks were the best they have ever tried. Everyone was appalled that I had never eaten beef before due to the sheer quantity I was eating during each meal. Each portion of beef there comes no less than 0.5kg. Apparently that’s a lot but I had no problem finishing and savouring every fibre of it. I’m not proud but have tried well done, medium, medium rare, rare and probably know all the cuts that can be made from a cow in Spanish – ribs, tenderloin, sirloin, platysma, external intercoastal muscles, brisket, shank, flank. My best pick is medium done bbqed ribs marinated only with salt and pepper made in Gaucho (the traditional cowboys of Argentina) style. Just thinking about it now is making my mouth water. I think the biggest challenge would be to resist the temptation of consuming beef hence forth, now that I’m back home. However, I’ll always remember and fantasise about the romantic moments I had with the only meat of all that I’ve tried that I could call real meat. Sigh…

The dusty cow boy town of Fiambala is known for its hot springs and its mountains. People from all over Argentina and Chile come over to the town for its attractions. When we finished Ojos and were wondering what to do, our guides suggested that we recharge in the hot springs before heading up another mountain. I’m so glad we agreed as well. We had a bbq and wine by the hot springs and stayed overnight at the place. Wonderful experience indeed. Dipping into the waters of different temperatures (that u can choose from) at midnight and coming out for roast beef when it was ready and sipping a glass of wine while you chilled out (more like heated up) in the pool. And snuggling up in our cosy tents when we were full and warm finally after an absolutely exhausting week at Ojos. We were definitely ready to take on San Francisco.

After San Francisco, we had another family bbq organised by the Jonson family (the guy who is the climbing boss in the town). This guy nearly owns the whole town. All the vineyards in and around the town are his and the whole tourism industry is under his control. He was the 1st Argentinian (and 5th person in the world) and his daughter Ruth (now 33) was the 1st female in the world  to have climbed Ojos. We were in the hands of such great company receiving such great hospitality sipping the freshest of wines. What more could we ask for as an after party and conclusion to our great trip.

This was supposed to be a climbing blog and why have I wondered off to talking about the decadence of life? Lets get back to the suffering. The Puna is such a wonderful place with so many 6000m peaks dispersed around all over the place. There are so many unclimbed peaks as well. It’s a sanctuary for climbers. I think one can spend a few months in the Atacama region alone. Swee Chiow is making plans for his next trip there and I know I will definitely come back again one day. When, is the biggest question.

Now that I’m finally back home, its time to maintain/increase my fitness again and do all the preparations for the next climb which is going to be the BIG ONE – Everest. Will be uploading photos and videos very shortly.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized