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  Everest 2006: Swee Chiow to attempt Mt EVEREST WITHOUT OXYGEN Updates


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.

Cheers.

Swee Chiow

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). 

Cheers.

Swee Chiow

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. 

Cheers.

Swee Chiow

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 Poles.

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."

Khoo Swee Chiow, Everest Climber, author and motivational speaker
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