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 https://give.asia/movement/no_mountain_too_high_1 (for HNF) and https://www.giving.sg/campaigns/no_mountain_too_high (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.