Archive for the ‘Random picks’ Category

Communications on Everest

Thursday, April 16th, 2009


On a fine weather day, satellite phone conversations are a breeze

As we stay at Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,300m, it’s amazing that we are able to keep in touch with sponsors, family and friends in Singapore. Thanks to SingTel, our link back home remains strong via internet connection and satellite phone communication.

Before we came here, helpful SingTel staff spent a day with us to explain how to use the Immarsat BGAN Wideye Saber 1 system which allows us to get online via satellite connection. This means we’re able to access the internet right here from Everest Base Camp! The BGAN system proved to be very easy to use, and every morning, we spend less than 5mins setting it up before internet connection is ready.

Another great thing about the BGAN system is that it consumes very little power. With the limited amount of sunlight we get here (since weather is always erratic), it is still sufficient as a power source for the system to work.

Iridium satellite phones are another means of communication we rely on for connection back home. Hearing voices from back home proves to be a real source of support for us here at Everest Base Camp, and it’s also a great source of comfort for our families and friends.


Fixing up the BGAN for internet connection


Checking emails from our sponsors and friends

Navigating through the Khumbu Icefall for the 1st time

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Navigating through the Khumbu icefall before daybreak

The winds howled at 5am, the time we were supposed to wake up to get ready for our first practice climb on the Khumbu Icefall. Amidst the cold winds, we peeled ourselves out of our sleeping bags and strapped on our boots and backpacks. After a quick breakfast, we started out in the greyish darkness of dawn, towards the infamous Khumbu Icefall.

The Khumbu Icefall is the first section of the Everest climb, where large blocks of ice form an ever-moving glacier. This proves to be one of the trickiest bits of the climb before climbers even reach Camp 1 (6,100m). Before our summit bid, we would’ve climbed through the Khumbu Icefall at least 5 times for acclimatization purposes.

With the sun’s rays hidden, we moved in the cold of the dawn, feeling like tiny ants among these giant ice blocks. We chose to climb through the Icefall before the sun rose because the heat from the sun would cause the ice blocks to melt and shift, therefore posing a potential hazard to our movements.

The route seemed never-ending. Every ice block we overcome leads to another, and about an hour into the climb, we got to the fixed rope section where we clipped on our ascending devices and continued climbing. We navigated through horizontal and vertical ladders to cross crevasses, as well as front-pointed up certain sections with our crampons. After close to 3 hours, we reached our goal for the day, and decided to turn back towards Base Camp before the heat turned up.

We will be heading up towards Camp 1 when the Icefall is ready approximately a week from now. Currently, the Ice Doctors (local experts on the Icefall) are fixing the complete route up to Camp 1 and they’re in the midst of finding the safest way up. Meantime, we’ll be occupied with technical practices and acclimatization walks while we wait with bated breath for the climb ahead.

Crossing one of he multiple crevasses using a ladder

Overcoming a vertical section of the Khumbu icefall amidst strong winds

Snowed in at Namche!

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Photos: Map reading en route Namche, Pulse oximeter, Acclimatization hike in Namche

At Namche, we used the pulse oximeter to check the oxygen level in our blood

Reading the map en-route to Namche

acclimatization hike towards everest view hotel

Snow fell on us an hour later

On our last day in Kathmandu, we woke up bright and early at 4am to catch the first domestic flight to Lukla (2820m). The plane landed us on the highest and shortest runway in the world and once we got off the aircraft, we wolfed down our breakfasts, strapped on our backpacks and began the 5-hour trek in to Chumoa.

We rested for the night at Chumoa and set off the following day for Namche, where we are now. The trek to Namche began on mostly flat terrain along the riverbed and also across several suspension bridges. However, once we’re near Namche, the uphill terrain began. Up and up we went for close to 1.5hours before we reached our campsite which is situated at the top of Namche, at 3450m. The moment we stepped into our dining area, it started snowing!

We’re staying one more day at Namche, so that our bodies can get used to the increase in altitude. It’s important to stay active at altitude so that our bodies produce more red blood cells to cope with the less amount of oxygen in the air we breathe. So today, we went on an acclimatization hike up towards Everest View Hotel. The weather wasn’t so kind to us today, it started snowing heavily 10mins after we set off, and the snow didn’t let up all through the journey. An hour into the hike, we were at an altitude of 3677m before we decided to return to our campsite.

We’re headed for Deboche (3770m) tomorrow where we’ll spend another day for an acclimatization hike. Hope to update you more then!

Everest, here we come!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Yes, we’re headed for the big Everest expedition!

Thank you for your support all these years, we wouldn’t be where we are today if you weren’t behind us.

If you’d like to see us off at the airport, here’re the details, we’d love to have you there:

MI 412 / 09:10AM
21 March 2009 (Sat)
7.30am onwards, Changi Airport Terminal 2
Area outside Starbucks Coffee (near Row 12)

We’ll be sending back online updates about our progress up Everest as often as we can from base camp. So bookmark our website, for the latest updates!


Monday, February 16th, 2009


usually after a long sweaty run, the button we’d reach for on the drinks vending machine is H-TWO-O, because it’s thirst-quenching, tastes great, and is non-gasy! so imagine our joy when we received a few cartons of H-TWO-O – this means the run-up to our Everest climb (just 33 days away, folks!) would be better supplemented, yay =)

6 more weeks to go!

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Counting down, it’s 6 more weeks before we depart for Everest. Last Dec saw us undergoing final overseas training climbs in Nepal and China and it was certainly good to be climbing on snow and ice again! Things are heating up now as we are going thru the final stages of our preparation for the BIG one! Besides training up to 6 times a week (sometimes twice a day), we have also been coordinating all the gear and logistics required for our 3-month long expedition. These include stuff like high camp food, batteries, PowerBar PowerGels (pic below), energy drinks etc. We will be expecting to carry up to 60kg worth of gear when we check-in at the airport – and this is excluding the gear that we have left in Kathmandu during our Cho Oyu climb in 2007! Sometimes, the sheer magnitude of the amount of planning and preparation for such a major expedition such as this scares me more than the actual climb itself!


On our public outreach front, we have also been giving talks to schools and the public. In the beginning of January, we kicked off the year with a talk and slideshow presentation at Campers’ Corner to people who were interested to participate in our NATAS SWET Everest Base Camp Trek happening in April. We are glad to be able to work with Pacwest Travel to offer such a unique opportunity for participants to trek to the Everest Base Camp and also stay one-night over there. We will certainly be looking forward to meeting the trek participants at the base camp when we’re there!

In collaboration with SilkAir, our official airline sponsor, we also presented a talk and slideshow presentation about Mount Everest as Asia’s highest natural wonder at the Marine Parade Library on 15 January. Looking ahead, we have a couple of school talks lined up and we look forward to sharing our stories and experiences with the students with the message of encouraging them to climb their own Everests in life.


Thursday, November 27th, 2008

We are so proud of our new team name that this blog post is dedicated to helping to provide you with the full NATAS SWET experience.

You would already have seen the chinese article through the link in the prior blog posting.

The launch of the NATAS SWET partnership was announced over a press conference at Campers’ Corner located at Capitol Building. We basically extended the shop all the way into the back alley by connecting several tents together. Throughout the shop, there were NATAS SWET photoboards, video, photos, standees displayed together with the merchandise.

It was a most interesting experience for guests of the event since they could even do a bit of window shopping. It was also a most fitting location for team events since we covert almost all the outdoor gear and apparels stocked in the shop.

The event was succinct. NATAS CEO, Robert Khoo and Team leader, Jane Lee both gave a speech on their thoughts on the partnership and sealed the sponsorship by planting an ice axe, bearing the new NATAS SWET logo into a block of ice.

Then came the news reports



Taken from my paper, 27th Nov 08



From ST online, 27th Nov 08



Radio – 938live, 27th Nov 08


Razor TV, 27th Nov 08


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

We have secured a title sponsor!!!

SWET will now be known as the NATAS Singapore Women’s Everest Team.

Everest is finally a plane ride away…

More details to follow. Look out for the news tomorrow.



Monday, October 20th, 2008

there are some things in the world we’d rather not have lots of: parking fines, white hairs, bird shit splatters and body fat (the last isn’t true of my dear yihui by the way).

then again, there are some things which we simply can’t have too much of: chocolates, hunky male athletes, good hair days, money and of course…

Stuff from SWET to show just how much of a great supporter you are! =D

Us at SWET, we love our logo so much (seeing how pink and cool it is with its mountain graphic and all) that we can’t help wanting to see it everywhere. Plus, we think pink-haters are such repressed souls that they are screaming out to be enlightened by having their sights constantly bombarded by said colour.

We are on a mission to pink-ify the planet with our uber-gorgeous SWET mountain logo, so have you done your bit yet?

Our merchandize!

Seriously though, with our Everest climb less than 6 months away and the fundraising clock ticking madly, we need all your support! No amount is too small and you can start by purchasing our SWET merchandize! All proceeds go directly to the team to help offset our costs!

Imagine, your purchase today could help pay for part of a life-saving oxygen bottle, the salary of our climbing sherpa or the rice we eat at base camp all the way at Mount Everest. Isn’t this the coolest way to “stretch your dollar” or what?

But Singapore has no mountains…

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

How does the Singapore Women’s Everest Team train?

Often, during exchanges with climbers of other nationalities at base camp, we would talk about training. And most often, the climbers would tell us how they run up hills every other day, bike along hilly roads and how they do 2-3 day climbs in the ‘mountains in their backyard’ (as Jane likes to put it)

When it comes to the Singapore Women’s Everest Team turn to share our training story, we almost always end up being the highlight of the conversation. One of our training that never fails to cause a few dropped jaws in the group is STAIRS Training. We climb 30 to 40 storey HDB buildings with 15 – 20kg backpacks and 5 kg ankle weights. We do this one to two times a week and we do it because there are no mountains in Singapore. There’s only Bukit Timah Hill. And we ‘summit’ BT weekly, sometimes up to 6 times in one training session.

As for hilly rides, we have 1 hr spinning classes at the gym. and of course, we do gym and run about 20 – 30km a week.

Recently though, we have discovered the benefits of such rigorous training we impose on ourselves. It is that we are usually fit enough to participate in various activities like adventure races, marathons and triathlons, ad hoc trekking activites etc. Participation in these activities usually make our trainings more exciting on a short term basis.

Our current obsession within the team is the Ace Adventure Challenge V!!! It will be held on Sat, 20th Sep to Sun, 21st Sep 2008

Registration will open for 5 days. Starting on 1 Sep to 5 Sep and AAC is the only adventure race left for 2008!

We invite you to join us there.