SINGAPORE — Three Singaporeans are set to embark on one of the world’s most perilous expeditions in a bid to become the first Singapore team to scale Mount Everest since 2009.
Dr Arjunan Saravana Pillai, Ms Nur Yusrina Ya’akob and Mr Jeremy Tong will depart Singapore for the Himalayas on Sunday (March 26) and will have up to early June to reach Everest’s summit.
The trio, whose expedition is being supported by Nanyang Technologyical University (NTU) and the National Institute of Education (NIE), have so far raised more than S$150,000 for their journey.
For Ms Yusrina, 30, the coming trip will assuage the disappointment of a failed attempt to climb Everest back in 2015, which was meant to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.
The trainee teacher, who is pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Physical Education at NIE, was the co-leader of the Aluminaid Team Singapura Everest 2015 team who had to abandon their climb halfway after a powerful earthquake struck Nepal that year.
“Having made it more than halfway up the mountain two years ago, I was disappointed that the team had to abort the climb. But had we departed just one day earlier, we would have been in a much more dangerous situation higher up the mountains,” she said.
Her team members of the team are also experienced mountain climbers.
Dr Saravana, 47, a teaching fellow from NIE has more than a decade of climbing experience, have climbed several peaks, including the 6,400m Mount Kang Yatze II in India.
Mr Tong, 26, a graduate of NTU’s Sports Science and Management programme, became the first Singaporean to summit two Central Asian peaks above 7,000m last year — Lenin Peak in Kyrgyzstan (7,134m) and Peak Korzhenevskaya in Tajikistan (7,105m).
However, the team, who hopes their mission will help promote a resilient and can-do spirit among Singaporeans, acknowledged the huge challenge Everest will present.
“Beautiful as she is, Everest is also extremely unpredictable and volatile, which leaves climbers with a sense of humility and respect for the mountain,” said Dr Saravana.
The trio consulted other Singaporeans who climbed Everest in the past, including Mr David Lim, who led the first Singaporean expedition that summited Everest in May 1998, and the Singapore Women’s Everest team — who were the last Singapore team to successfully scale Everest back in 2009.
“We also trained for the past year, including two to three hour runs up Bukit Timah Hill and high-rise public housing blocks. We also do our own strength and fitness regimens, and rock climbing to improve our technical skills,” said Mr Tong.
Ms Yusrina, added that her past experience on Everest will help the team plan better. “It’s not so much the mountain that you conquer, but yourself,” she said.