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15:45 hrs:  A short message from Roz “Just arrived at highcamp”.

So it looks like they made it safely down and based on the short nature of the message, are probably exhausted.  Considering they left around 5AM it looks like a 10h 45minute day and they will be very dehydrated. However all water needs to be melted from snow or ice, a painfully slow process which takes discipline to sit in the tent and melt enough to adequately re-hydrate when they are tired.  It may take 2 hours or more to melt a few litres and then they also will need to cook some food.  They will be fighting the urge to lie back in their sleeping bags and sleep.  However if they do not drink enough tonight, they will wake in the morning feeling very weak, with the possibility of altitude sickness and major throbbing dehydration headaches a real concern.  Their bodies will not be able to repair and recharge themselves from today’s effort.

Tomorrow they will most probably pack up high camp and head down to basecamp where they will spend the night.  Getting back to basecamp on the grass will be a real luxury as the increase in oxygen levels will make them feel stronger, warmer, happier and  they will sleep better tomorrow night.

They have definitely earned their rest tonight anyway!

Axe off belay on behalf of David Lim







11:23AM Singapore time.  I just received a very broken Thuruya satellite phone call from David.  They have reached a point high on the ridge at 6015m, which is a false summit of the Dragons tooth. A false summit is a term used in mountaineering to describe a peak that appears to be the pinnacle of the mountain but is in fact not.  From here  the ridge breaks up and it seems the guys may have made the decision to turn back.  The line cut off before I could get the full information from David, however he did say they were very tired.  There also seems to be some limited form of mobile phone coverage as I received the attached photograph from Rozani of David eating a GNC power gel high on the ridge.

Both David and Rozani are experienced climbers.  They will assess the situation and come to the a joint conclusion as team mates whether to proceed or retreat.  The decision to retreat when so close to their goal will be a difficult one.  They will take into account many factors such as:

–  The conditions.  Is there avalanche risk? bad weather closing in?  hard ice?  soft snow?

–  Technical difficulty of climbing the broken ground? They will also take into account the descent – descending the ridge will be more difficult than going up.

–  Strength:  How tired are they feeling? Do they have enough strength to continue to make the summit and then descend all the way to high camp safely? Are they cold?

–  Time:  How much time they have before darkness? They will want to find their way back to the high camp before darkness sets in.

As Ed Viesters said “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory”.

Whatever decision they make,  lets applaud their effort in getting so high and stepping where no human beings have ever stepped before.

Meanwhile I wait with baited breath for another update from the team – hopefully the next update will come from them back in there tents safely at high camp.


David Lim re-energises with some GNC power gels high on the unclimbed ridge of the Dragon’s tooth whilst contemplating the next move this morning. Photo: Mohd Rozani bin Maarof

2nd UPDATE   

12PM:  I received another phone call from David. This time the line was much clearer.   As I was updating his blog from the last phone message, I decided to keep what I had written and add onto it here.

David confirmed they were retreating from a high point on the false summit at just over 6000m.  They were feeling very tired after breaking trail for the previous 5 hours and the ridge was very deceiving.  What looked like a gentle line up the ridge to follow to the summit turned out to be a 45 degree heavily corniced ridge line.

(A cornice is an overhanging edge of snow on a ridge or the crest of a mountain. They form by wind blowing snow over the crest of the mountain, so they often form on the leeward sides of mountains. Cornices are extremely dangerous and travelling above or below them should be avoided. Source: Wikipedia)

The weather had also turned and was starting to close in.  David was cold and it sounded very windy so we did not talk for long.  They called from an elevation of 5770m.  They now have to retreat back down the ridge and back through some huge crevasses on the glacier to reach their high camp.  It should be easier route finding to reach their high camp in the daylight, than it was coming up in the darkness in the morning.

I hope to hear from David when they reach the high camp safely tonight.

All in all it sounds like a tremendous effort today by the team.Lets wish them a safe retreat.

Axe signing out on behalf of David Lim





Below is the exchange of SMS between myself and David today.

DAVID:   “Nice walk today. Still wasted from yest climb. Making and drinking fluids now, shutting down comms by 8pm.  Still dehydrated, so long to melt snow, weather? thks”

AXE:  “Weather: Tue slightly unstable, maybe rain or snow, wind 32km, wed – thu wind 24km also unstable, not ideal tomorrow but could be worse!”

DAVID:  “Dang! thought it was improving! Thanks anyway, 5AM start for tomorrow”

AXE:  “Go hard boys! How you both feeling?”

DAVID:  “Thirsty, must drink more, Roz has slight tummy ache, otherwise ok”

AXE:  “OK, pls call from summit if possible, good luck!”

So it looks like the guys are set to leave for an early morning start at 5Am for there summit push. To leave by 5AM they will need to wake around 2 hours earlier – around 3AM, in the freezing hours of darkness.  They will melt snow to make drinks, try and eat something, fill their water bottles, dress for the brutal cold which will be well below freezing.  They will run though the long list of preparations required to climb by the light of their head torches.

They will have an uneasy sleep tonight, waking frequently as the reality they are about to face is only a few hours away. The reality that they have trained and prepared for months has finally arrived.  All those mixed feelings of excitement, nervousness tinged with fear at the unknown obstacles that will confront them.

Please send many positive thoughts in their direction! I hope David can make a Satellite phone call from the summit if they are lucky enough to make it.  But most importantly a call from basecamp when they are back safely after the climb.

Safe climbing guys!

Axe signing out on behalf of David Lim.


5:30pm Singapore time.  I just spoke with Rozani and David by Thuruya Satellite phone.  They have had a hard 7 hour acclimatisation climb up a nearby peak to an elevation just under 6000m.  Both climbers sounded tired but  in good spirits.  Rozani said the entire day was a battle with the wind.  Near the summit they estimate the wind speed was gusting 80 – 90  km/hr.  Climbing in this type of wind is enourmously energy sapping.

The guys are now back safely in the tent’s at advance camp and are  preparing dinner of couscous.  They will have burnt 6000 – 8000 calories today and be dehydrated.  It is essential they eat well and drink plenty of liquid to allow their bodies to recover from the exertion.  All the water they drink has to be tediously melted from ice and snow.  A very slow process which requires patience and discipline, especially when you are exhausted.  It can typically take around one hour to prepare 1 – 2 litres  at high altitudes.

Tomorrow they plan an active rest day, and will make a trip back down to basecamp to pick up some supplies.  Most importantly they are very short of matches.  They have 8 remaining only!  No matches is a serious situation as it means they cannot light their stove to cook and melt snow to drink.

In summary the guys seem to be acclimatised well, in great spirits and in a very good position to make an attempt on the Dragons Tooth in two days time.  They need to drink, rest and prepare well over the next 24 hours to ensure they are ready to go for it Tuesday morning when the time comes.

Axe signing out on behalf of David Lim





Yesterday the team managed to establish an advanced camp after an exhausting 5 hour hike with heavy 25+kg packs.  Advanced camp is located at 5500m elevation (N 33.114, E 92.048) 5km further up the glacier from basecamp. Today they planned to do an acclimatisation climb on a small nearby peak and scope out a possible route to the  summit of the Dragons Tooth.  David mentioned they may try and cross from the current glacial system where they are located under the North West face of the Dragons tooth to the adjacent glacial system further south named ‘Dongkemadi’.  From here access to the east ridge may give them a line to the summit.

The 6 day weather forecast is attached below,  The weather Sunday to Monday looks unsettled with a clearance happening on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  This timing could potentially work out well for there summit push.

Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson on behalf of David Lim


6 day weather forecast


An update from the team as of 7PM (Singapore time) on 22 Sep.  I spoke to David by Thuruya Sat phone voice and SMS over the last 24 hours.  The team has finally found access to the correct valley to establish their basecamp at position N 33.099 E 91.992, elevation 5160m (elevation approximate scaled from google earth)  I attach an image below is also from google earth which shows the position of the basecamp.  It looks to be in a nice safe position, beside a large glacial stream.  They should be able to see the mighty Dragons tooth from basecamp.  In a direct line the Dragon’s tooth is 7km from basecamp and 1000m higher in elevation.

This is  positive news that they have managed to establish basecamp in this position.  It gives much more straight forward access to their objective than their initial basecamp they spent the night of the Sep 20th.  Today the team were pushing higher up the mountain to establish an advanced camp, further up on the glacier.   This would have been very hardwork as they carried heavy packs, would be travelling roped up over the glacial terrain and route finding.  There bodies also will be struggling with the increased altitude making them very short of breath and suspect to the headaches, nausea and other altitude related effects.

I hope to receive an update from David within the next few hours about the teams progress today and I will update this blog as I receive.

Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson signing out on behalf of David Lim.

Basecamp and the Dragons tooth over 7km away (Image: Google earth)