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Photo: NTUNIEEverestTeamSingapore Facebook

Trio to scale Mount Everest with support from NTU and NIE

Three Singaporeans will begin their quest to climb Mount Everest on 26 March 2017, the first Singapore team attempt since 2009.

In one of the world’s most dangerous expeditions, Dr Arjunan Saravana Pillai, Ms Nur Yusrina Ya’akob and Mr Jeremy Tong plan to reach the summit of Everest by early June.

Even though we have a short deadline, we are still having lots of fun! / photo: NTUNIEEverestTeamSingapore Facebook

The team, with their Facebook account NTUNIEEverestTeamSingapore, is being supported by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National Institute of Education (NIE), who have so far raised more than S$150,000 for the expedition.

For Ms Yusrina, 30, this will be her second attempt at climbing Everest. The trainee teacher, who is pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Physical Education at NIE, was the co-leader of Aluminaid Team Singapura Everest 2015, which had to abandon their climb halfway after a powerful earthquake struck Nepal at the time.

She said she 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.” Ms Yusrina added that she hoped her past experience on Everest would help the team plan better.

Dr Saravana, 47, a lecturer in the Physical Education and Sports Science (PESS) Department at NIE, has climbed many peaks, including the 6,200m Kang Yatze II in India. Having more than a decade of climbing experience, Dr Saravana said, “It is not only about conquering the mountain, it’s also about conquering ourselves.”

“Mother Nature, no matter what, is always mighty and superior. We are approaching it with huge respect and humility,” he added. This deep drive to scale Mt Everest echoes the quest undertaken by his grandfather 70 years ago.

The third member of the expedition is avid mountaineer Jeremy Tong, 26, an alumnus of NTU’s Sport Science and Management Program, and a former student of Dr Saravana, as was Ms Yusrina.

Potentially the youngest Singaporean yet to attempt to scale Mt Everest, Mr Tong has climbed 36 mountains in the past 12 years, and is the second Singaporean to summit Lenin Peak on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan at 7,134m.

On top of individual training and practice climbs, the three team members have been meeting twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays. Training sessions last from two-and-a-half to four hours involving running, circuit training and carrying 25kg loads up steep steps of Bukit Timah Hill.

The flag that will be brought up Mount Everest / photo: NTUNIEEverestTeamSingapore Facebook
The flag that will be brought up Mount Everest / photo: NTUNIEEverestTeamSingapore Facebook

The team also consulted other Singaporeans who had climbed Everest, including Mr David Lim, who led the first Singaporean expedition that scaled Mt Everest in May 1998, and the Singapore Women’s Everest team, who were the last Singapore team to successfully scale Everest in 2009.

Edit: It was previously written that Kang Yatze II is 6,400m but is in fact, 6,200m and has been corrected.