Swee Chiow reports
in (delayed reporting)
A Sad Day
This morning, I was woken up
by the noise of someone speaking loudly. I thought nothing of it. It is a calm
and peaceful morning. I slept very well after the 4-night drama at C1.
At breakfast, thru the
Sherpa's conversation, we learnt there had been an accident in the icefall. We
tuned into the frequency of another team (our walkie-talkies finally arrived)
and heard the news that 3 Sherpas had been buried in a collapse of ice towers.
From their description, I
know it's the exact location where some ice chunks crashed down in front of me
on my 1st trip into the icefall. There are 2 gigantic ice towers leaning
precariously. I had wondered when they would collapse when I passed under
them. One of them did this morning.
Together with many other
climbers, we passed that place just 12 hours before. All of us have been
lucky. But not the 3 Sherpas. I know one of them since 1997 and met him again
in 2004. It must be terrible for his family especially when he is still
trapped in the icefall. I pray all 3 of them will be recovered later in the
season and brought back to their family.
It's a deceptively calm and
peaceful morning. I stared at the icefall from my tent and didn't know what to
make of all these.
I called Wee Leng. She told
me about things at home. Sheng Feng was lauging into the phone and said 'hello
daddy'. I quickly said a prayer for their safety and thanked God for life.
This season has not started
well. Let's all continue to pray for safety for everyone on this mountain.
Reaching the summit is nice
but returning to my family who is waiting for me is everything. That's
motivation enough to stay alive.
Base Camp. 20 April 06
Rescue From C1
We got more than we bargain
for on our acclimatization trip to C1 on the 16th. On our 2nd night there,
after visiting C2 in the day, it started snowing.
The next morning, we tried to
leave for BC but managed only 100m before we decided to go back to camp. It
was a complete white out and blowing hard. Nga Temba decided to relocate our
tents to a higher ground to avoid avalanche. A good call.
We have no walkie-talkie.
There was a delay in getting the walkie-talkie permit. We were cut off from
BC for now. We had food but enough gas for only 2 days. This could be a costly
lesson, I said to myself.
We lay in our sleeping bags
the rest of the day. Luckily, we brought our books. I have 'Life of Gandhi'.
It's a most inspiring read. This is my 3rd book on this trip. Ang Geljen & Nga
Temba had radio in their tent.
I got up early the next
morning to clear snow from our tents. It was obvious we would not be going
anywhere this day with the continuing blizzard. A meter of fresh snow pressed
against the tent wall.
Three Polish climbers came
by. They were in the same predicament - running low on gas. But they had
walkie-talkie. We sent a message to our BC sherpas.
By 4pm, the sky cleared. It
stopped snowing and at last, we saw the sun. It was a 36-hour snow storm.
As we were taking photos
outside the tents, a huge avalanche broke on Nuptse and came hurling towards
us. Vincent snapped a photo. We were still admiring it. We didn't think we
were in danger. Then, the dust cloud grew bigger and bigger. Ang Geljen
shouted 'Get inside!'. As we zipped up the tent, the dust cloud hit us with a
gust. The sun disappeared for a moment. Thank God it was the tail end of the
avalanche. This is our closest encounter with an avalanche. I have no wish of
repeating this experience.
After 4 unplanned nights at
C1, we were ready to head down to BC. We started at 9am. The wands and fixed
ropes were all buried under one-meter snow. Route finding was difficult. Nga
Temba was exhausted after breaking trail for 30 minutes in thigh-deep snow.
Soon, the Koreans joined us followed by the Swiss and the Polish. With the
Koreans' radio, we were very glad to learn that 25 Sherpas were on their way
from BC to rescue us. At the same time, we also saw a large group of people
coming from C2.
We continued in deep snow and
after awhile, Ang Geljen finally located the fixed rope. Soon, there must be
at least 40 people on the scene. Someone else took over the exhausting task of
pulling the buried fixed rope from the snow.
At 1.30pm, we finally met up
with our Sherpas from BC. At last, the route was open again after the snow
storm. There must be at least 70 people in the icefall that day.
We got to BC at 4.30pm. BC is
now christmas white. Padam, our cook, immediately pampered us with his
delicious ogayu (porridge).
1st Trip Into the Icefall
Yesterday at 8.20am, we set
off into the Khumbu Icefall on our 1st acclimatization trip accompanied by our
Sherpas Nga Temba and Ang Geljen. We had a surprise companion - no, not a
yeti. A dog followed us all the way to the 1st ladder. There, he looked sad
that he couldn't continue the climb with us.
Vincent had his 1st
experience of the infamous ladder crossings. It got windy higher up. I got up
to 5870m. Suddenly, without any warning, a block of ice came crushing down in
front of me. I instinctively ducked. Luckily, it didn't hit me. My heart
missed a beat. I was alone as Vincent and the Sherpas were far below me. I
quickly climbed higher to a safe spot. Had I been hit or worse, buried, no one
would have known. It was 1.30pm. I decided it's time to go down.
I got to BC safely at 4.30pm
feeling dehydrated. Vincent was a little tired and they went down earlier. He
twisted his ankle and it's a bit painful. Let's hope it's nothing serious.
I met the Ice Doctors near BC
and they said the route is complete to C1. We look forward to our 1st night at
C1 very soon.
Singapore’s best known
adventurer, Khoo Swee Chiow, will embark on his most dangerous challenge yet
as he attempts to climb the world’s highest mountain without oxygen. If
his attempt succeeds he will be one of only six percent of climbers worldwide to have
completed the climb to Everest without the aid of oxygen.
Swee Chiow, 41, already holds
the title of the first man in Singapore and Southeast Asia, as well as the
fourth in the world to complete the Adventure Grand Slam, which consists of
scaling the World’s seven highest mountains, and reaching the North and South
Khoo Swee Chiow climbed Mt Everest in 1998.
In 1999, he skied to the South Pole, covering a distance of 1,125km in 57
days. In 2000, he completed the Seven Summits and became the 1st South East
Asian to achieve this feat. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on
each of the seven continents in the world. In 2001, he climbed Shishapangma
(8027 meters) in Tibet without oxygen aid.
Having worked for Singapore Airlines in the
IT division for 6 years, Swee Chiow quit his job in January 2001 to attempt
skiing to the North Pole. But he had to abort the mission after 9 days due to
some frostbite injuries. Not one to give up easily, he made a 2nd attempt the
following year. After 45 days, he reached the North Pole. He is now the 1st
South East Asian and the 4th person in the world to complete The Adventure
Grand Slam, that is, the South Pole, the North Pole and the Seven Summits.
Besides planning, organizing and training for
expeditions, Swee Chiow gives motivational talks to a wide range of audience
from schools to corporations. His book is Journeys To The Ends Of The
Earth by Khoo Swee Chiow
He has been called Singapore's very first
professional adventurer. However, he is happier to simply let people know that
he is merely chasing his dreams. One of his powerful messages is "If I can
climb Mt Everest, so can you."
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