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  K2 2008: Robert Goh and Edwin Siew: Update

Copyright© Billy Pierson


Aug 7: Robert and Edwin have decided to abandon their summit bid. the serac is unstable and is it highly likely that there will be more avalanches. There is also no window in sight. With the departure of the other teams, there are only 2 other teams left at BC -- 2 Americans with no Sherpas or porters; and one American with two Romanians with 2 Sherpas and 2 porters.

The Singapore team will be leaving with heavy hearts for having lost friends and deep disappointment as the mountain is so near, yet so far. But as Robert is fond of saying: "The mountain will always be there." They expect to set off on Aug 15.

Aug 4 Monday: Base Camp is shrouded in a sombre cloud of death and injuries. At noon local time, Robert and Edwin were on hand to help in the heli evacuation of a Dutch climber. Another injured climber is expected down later in the afternoon. He and Edwin were spending the day going round to offer condolences at the various camps.

Earlier: Aug 4: The Singapore guys team is back in BC. They left camp 3 when they knew that the trapped climbers above wouldn't be going down for another day or so and and they couldn't stay up at camp 3 for such a long time. Morale at BC is extremely low. "There's a taste of death in this place," Robert said. "Everyone is wondering how this could have happened on a perfect summit day. "The guys have lost a lot of weight and strength after so many days at high altitude. They will take their time to recover before thinking about their options.

Earlier: August 1: The Singapore Team set off today from Camp 3 and headed towards Camp 4. They reached the tip of the shoulder from where they could see the bottleneck, before turning to return to Camp 3. They will return to BC tomorrow to recover and wait for their summit window.

An exhausted Robert said they were climbing about 20 % slower than he Koreans and Americans who had been on the mountains far longer. He and Edwin are not as well acclimatised as they would have liked, having arrived late at BC.

Earlier: K2's steep slopes and mixed terrain are wearing the guys down. They took longer than expected to arrive at Camp 3 this evening. The winds are fairly mild but it is extremely cold, which feels even more biting without bottled oxygen. Thankfully, Robert and Edwin are free from the common mountain ailments like coughs and runs.

Kami and Jamling are feeling strong, slowing down deliberately to climb at the pace of Robert and Edwin. Tomorrow, the foursome hope to head up to Camp 4. Meanwhile, they can only look on as the South Korean and the Serbian teams at Camp 4, ready for their summit bids.

Earlier: Jul 30: It was a good day of climbing to Camp 2 today for the guys and Sherpa pals Jamling and Kami. The weather was kind although it was a little windy. K2's steep slopes was a bit of a challenge, especially as Robert and Edwin were climbing without oxygen. They'll be off to Camp3 tomorrow.

Earlier: July 29: After waiting for the hordes of climbers leave BC on their summit bid on Sunday and yesterday, Robert and Edwin left this morning and arrived at Camp 1 this afternoon. They found the ascent easier than the first time they went up. No doubt the good weather helped. They are scheduled to set off for Camp 2 tomorrow but the high winds there are worrying.

Earlier: Just when patience is running thin, there is a crack in the awful weather. Most of the teams at base camp are starting their summit bid on Sunday. Our guys are waiting for them to get higher up to avoid the jam on the mountain and will head for Camp 1 on Tuesday. That's when the wind is expected to be milder.

"The windows at K2 are extemely narrow," Robert said. "They appear and then disappear in three or four days."

Fingers crossed that this window will let them get up to Camp 4 to complete their acclimatisation.

Earlier: July 19 Saturday: The team is back at BC, as there's no let up in the weather. Although snowfall is light, it is continuous, weighing down their tents and covering the ground with half a meter of snow. Plus it's cloudy.

"Climbing to Camp 2 is like going up Lhotse Face all the way," said Robert. "There is no flat sections to relieve the climb." Ed, who took a little longer to acclimatize, moaned, "It was an uphill right from the bottom -- 60 to 70 degree gradient wit no plateau. It was hard going."

Kami and Jamling, however, had no problem. "K2 s very nice. It is not very difficult and not very easy," said Kami. "No problems."

The team will now have to wait for a decent good-weather window to make a last acclimatisation push to Camp 4.

July 18 Friday: The men woke up to 20 knot winds, cloudy skies and light snow. They decided to stay put and see if conditions improve sufficiently tomorrow to go up to Camp 3.

July17 Thursday : After an overnight at Camp 1 (6,050m), Rob and Ed arrived today at Camp 2 (6,700m), tired but satisfied with their progress. "K2 is no joke," Rob reported. "It's at least 10 times harder than Everest... so far. The terrain is relentless and exposed."

July 16 Wednesday : A day's rest was all they needed. The guys went up to Camp 1 today.

July14, Monday: Rob and Ed, Kami and Jamling set off for Camp 1 and returned the same day to BC. It was hard going and the weather didn't help, with light snow.

July 13, Sunday: The Puja was conducted today as Kami felt the weather was good. The day before, the skies had dumped up to a meter of snow at 6,000m.

July 10: Rob and Ed arrived at K2 base camp.

For More on Robert see here.

Background: Intrepid Singapore Mountaineers Robert Goh and Edwin Siew are on their way to K2 base camp to climb this awesome peak without bottle oxygen. This is the climax of eight years of planning and training that started with the alpine ascent of the central summit of Xixabangma. After summiting Cho Oyu without oxygen and attempting Everest without oxygen (thwarted by bad weather and broken ribs), the two men now aim to be the first climbers from South-east Asia to get to the K2 summit without oxygen.

Climbing with them are two close friends, Kami Ang Chirring Sherpa and Jamling Bhote Sherpa, who will be team members climbing with oxygen.

Background: In Robert Goh is a unique combination of aerospace scientist, high-altitude mountaineer, mentor and motivational speaker. His string of successful adventures includes man-hauling to South Pole, an alpine ascent of Xixabangma’s central summit (8012m), and summiting Cho Oyu (8201m) without oxygen. Believing in pushing limits, chooses to climb high mountains, especially those in the Himalayas above 8,000m, with little or no support. But he also arms himself with the skills and mental strength to overcome obstacles. This approach has helped him survive life-threatening situations such as being trapped in gale-force winds, falling into crevasses and being hit by an avalanche. His way of embracing life’s challenges has inspired his audiences and imbued them with a strong sense of self-belief.  Robert Goh is also passionate about mentoring young climbers and trains groups of university student in high-altitude mountaineering. The efficacy of his method was proven in 2005 when novices from the National University of Singapore who were trained by him , succeeded in summiting Everest.

Outside of mountaineering, Robert Goh is a scientist, involved in cutting-edge technologies in the aerospace industry, including fighter aircraft and un-manned systems. He has found his mountaineering experience to be a close fit in tackling down-to-earth situations. And with over a decade of experience in the corporate world as team leader and manager, he can relate to both sides of the managerial divide. This ability to bring his passion to all his endeavours makes his a compelling story for his audiences. Invite him to your next conference of meeting to find out how his story can affect your lives. For More on Robert see here.


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