Meet the team
Jane Lee: Kingpin
“There is no finite limit to human potential … I know what I want and I get what I want”
When uttered by most people, it would sound like pure bravado, or foolishness. But coming from Jane, one knows that it is just a matter of fact. Having scaled Island Peak (Nepal), ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) and Mera Peak (Nepal) one would almost forgive bragging rights, but Jane just sees it as another step towards fulfilling herself.
At 23, Jane is both the youngest member of the team and also the leader. When asked to comment on why, she declined, but Yihui put it best, “it’s rather simple actually, we recognize a leader when we see one.”
Sim Yi Hui: the Merry-maker
“the Joker got it right ….. at least he died laughing”
Joy and laughter are never far away from Yi Hui. As an Outdoor and Adventure Executive with YMCA Singapore, bringing fun into the lives of other people is an everyday affair for the Yi Hui. As team-mate Joanne says, “Talking with Yi Hui is a laugh a minute affair.”
Climbing though is no joke. Having summitted Mera Peak (Nepal), ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) and Mustagh Ata (Pakistan-China), Yi Hui would be the first to tell you that climbing is serious business: there is no room for error when life and limb are at stake.
However in such an environment when one has to constantly be on the edge, Yi Hui bubbly personality is appreciated even more: Peh Gee notes, “without her, life on the mountains would be so much harder, no one keeps your spirits up like Yi Hui.”
Esther Tan: the writer
In Singapore all we do is train,
Which means we end up a lot in the rain.
If we wanna go fast
We run for a bus
But to climb mountains we take aeroplanes
Writer, artist and climber, Esther wears many hats. But when asked how come her interests are so diverse, she replies, “I don’t see them as being very different … there is an artistry to climbing as much as there is a danger in writing and expressing one self … All of them are different way of getting to know yourself, and those around you.”
Having summitted Mera Peak (Nepal), ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) and Mustagh Ata (Pakistan-China), Esther has certainly put that artistry to the test. And to the doubters that maintain that there are easier ways to find out about yourself, Esther says, “it is only when you put your life at risk, when you face death, that you realize what life means to you, what others mean to you.”
Joanne Soo: the Mentor
“One of the Great Women of our Time” – Women’s Weekly, Singapore
It is difficult to get Joanne to talk about herself. But it certainly isn’t hard to get others to talk about her. Team-mate Jane gushes, “She is one of the best teachers you can ever find.” This is almost immediately echoed by Yi Hui who exclaims, “There is almost nothing that Joanne doesn’t know. More importantly, there is nothing that she won’t share with you.”
This is hardly surprising considering that Joanne runs her own outdoor adventure training company. A veteran leader of trekking and mountaineering expeditions, she has led teams to Mount Damavand in Iran, Mount Halla and DeChongBong in Korea, and Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. A sports climbing instructor for the Singapore Mountaineering Federation along with certified proficiency at Abseiling Level III, Joanne has somehow found the time to summit Mera Peak (Nepal) and ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) as well.
The only thing that Joanne was willing to say about herself was that, “teaching someone something you know is always a joy … people only can do because someone taught them how to do it first.”
Lee Peh Gee: Hannibal
“When Hannibal Barca crossed the alps to attack Rome, he did the impossible twice over: go over the mountains with an army, and even more outrageously, attack Rome itself.”
It is this kind of thinking that drives Peh Gee on: in her own words, “if something was conceived as possible, it wouldn’t really be a challenge would it. It is the impossible that drives me on.” Having scaled Mera Peak (Nepal), ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) and Mustagh Ata (Pakistan-China), Peh Gee isn’t one too be foolhardy about challenges: “climbing is dangerous, make no mistake about it … many people die every year. This is why we train hard.”
A realist by nature, Peh Gee relates that, “flying too close to the sun can result in losing your wings”, which is why team puts themselves through massive amounts of training. “No one pushes herself harder than Peh Gee” notes Esther. And for good reason, for as Peh Gee says, “I don’t dream of climbing Everest, I plan to.”
Lee Li Hui: Zen climber
“Everest is not the mountain, it is a mountain”
To Li Hui, climbing is an all-encompassing sport which tests your physical and mental limits, as well as technical skills and ultimately rewards you with a great sense of achievement at the summit. In this way, Everest is a natural progression in terms of the challenges posed to her in her climbing career and life in general.
In her experience of scaling Mera Peak (Nepal), ‘Er Feng’ in the Siguniang mountain range (China) as well as Mustagh Ata (Pakistan-China), Li Hui has found that “life in the mountain ranges is interesting as you see life stripped to its core.” It is this philosophical approach to climbing that her team-mates find reassuring, as Esther notes, “It is always calming to have Li Hui around, she takes everything, even major crises in perspective.”
Being a certified Padi Open Water diver and an avid wakeboarder as well, Li Hui says, “There is much to learn from everything … this is why I want to dive to the bottom of the ocean and climb to the top of the world.”