Caffe Bene Himalayan Traverse Expedition 2016 in Nepal
Kinabalu One-day ascent , 23 August 2013. David makes the first 1-day mobility-impaired climb of Borneo's summit
Qinghai Virgin Peaks Expedition 2012: Tackling 6000m virgin peaks in the Tanggulashan area of Qinghai, China
1st Singapore Everest Expedition: online dispatches of the landmark 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition, led by David Lim
Aconcagua 2000: David Lim and Tok Beng Cheong tackle the Polish Traverse in Feb 2000, as part of David's comeback climb from disability
Tien Shan Expedition 2000: David and members of the 2001 Everest Expedition lead and trained a team of novices in the first ever Singapore expedit...
Ojos Del Salado - Chile 2001: The Everest 2001 Expedition’s major warm-up climb prior to the Everest climb in 2001.
Singapore-Latin American Everest Expedition 2001: A climb on the North Rodge of Mt Everest, led by David Lim
Climbing the fabled Mount Ararat in 2001: ” I was fascinated by the tale of Noah’s Ark since I was a kid. In 1986 I took the opportunity to tra...
Ascent 8000: Expedition to Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, two 8000m peaks in 2002 by disabled Singaporean mountaineer David Lim
Alpine Rock in Borneo -2010:Why We Need Heroes: Climbing with Borneo alpine rock with Sir Chris Bonington, the legendary British mountaineer.
Extreme Desert Crossing 2007:David and Shani make the 5th ever recorded crossing on foot of the Salar de Uyuni
The “Spirit of Singapore Expedition 2009”, makes 3 virgin peak ascents including the tough peak later named Majulah Peak
Iran Expedition 2006: Multi-peak ascents in Alam-Kooh, and a climb of the long north ridge of Damavand in the Alborz peaks.
Ojos del Salado 2005: The highest volcano in the world --"Of my many adventures and climbs worldwide, there are a few which taught me the lesson t...
Nike Timing Mt. Fuji Climb 2004: David, Ting Sern and Masaharu make an attempt on Mt Fuji in the winter from the Yoshida trailhead.
Mountain of the Star Expedition 2003: An all-disabled mountaineers’ ascent of Pico de Orizaba, 5700m, Mexico’s highest peak and North America...
Maccoffee Tienshan Virgin Peaks Expedition: David leads his team to make the first virgin peak ascents by a Southeast Asian expedition. The team cl...
Kilimanjaro 2011: David Lim returns to Kilimanjaro to climb it from the Rongai Route.
Elbrus 2003: Climbing highest summit of Europe - in 2003. David teams up with Grant and Rudolf in Russia...
Kilimanjaro Challenge 2004: Four disabled mountaineers atempt a remote route on the northern icefields of Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), the summit of ...

Twitter feeds

  • by

Photos of success rarely show the work that went before to get it. In the short video collage below on Youtube, I’ve included some clips of the climb, the changing weather, and of course the summit; never guaranteed:


Watch the video collage of the climb up Kinabalu (1:43) on Youtube: Straits Times were also kind to cover the story a couple of days later in The Sunday Times newspaper. NB: This climb is in aid of the good work of the Society for the Physically Disabled. Please support this cause by going to the specific “Kinabalu” link and make a donation. I  dont get a cent. It all foes to the SPD. We donated $4095 a dollar fro every metre climbed. Hope you can give generously! Thanks.


After leaving Magesh at Laban Rata – he looked so whacked, it would be cruelty to have asked him to continue – I went up with Ananias Mukim, a friendly Parks guide. The most tiring part of the clinb then began, tackling one steep set of cut steps or stairs after another, as the vegetation began to give way to more alpine shrubbery. It was past noon, and the weather was still holding. Friday, that day, was deemed by the weather forecast to be the worst of the week, with heavy rain expected. So I kept crossed fingers. img-20130823-lows-peak-webFamiliar landmarks from past trips came and went. Finally, the ropes began. The start of the Panar Laban slabs just below the 3660m Sayat Sayat Hut have these thick white ropes that are fixed all the way t0 the summit. Most of the time you won’t need them, and they serve more as a marker. The first section was a traverse up some 60-degree slabs, than a steeper, more sustained bit. This was just around where two climbers fell in two separate incidents in 2013.  I was pretty tired by then, and what should have been a doddle in the old days became a task demanding far more concentration than usual. I had slowed down a lot by the time I cleared the steep bit below the last hut. Emerging over a rise I saw a new, green building. What the %$£@??  Turns out it’s the new set of toilets, built just above Sayat Sayat. A new checkpoint shelter was also built. No sign of any rangers, but I met a few Austrians and Bulgarians attempting some technical routes.I soon drank the last of my water (from the original 2.5 litres), ate a GU gel, and continued up the summit slabs. At about 3pm , the weather inevitably began to turn. From an ascent rate of about 375m per hour, I had dropped to about a climb rate of 230m per hour. The cramps that started at 3400m had eased off -proabbly because of my slower climb rate, so that was good. It began to drizzle, and then rain. Bugger. Time to put on my rain shells. By the time I had finished, the rain had eased somewhat. And then the plough up the summit pyramid block.  Ananias’s main help was to be there to have some chit chat with me – anything from climbing gear to his dreams and ambitions. It broke the monotony of the final stretch.

IMG-20130823-KK2013 summit WEB

At the summit of Mt Kinabalu – Low’s Peak. First single-day ascent by a mobility-impaired athlete

It was good to practise my Malay that day. Just before the top, the clouds came in again and it began to hail. Well, not very big balls of ice – more like graupel. Finally, the summit – at 1555hrs, just about 8.5 hours after setting off that morning. At the summit, I took some snaps, unfurled the Society of the Physically Disabled flag, which I have had since 2000, and the began to pack to head down. The flag  has been on Everest, summits of virgin peaks, Aconcagua, Orizaba and host of other mountains. Bear, the stuffed toy from Maureen was, as on many of my climbs, strapped to the outside of my FirstAscent Bacon pack. best of all, the focused training to build balance in one-legged stances, and the high intensity circuits had really helped; and wil probably be the new normal for me , instead of the turgid Bukit TImah hill staircase sessions of the old days.


Clouds come and go over the summit block

Some quick calculations confirmed that this was surely my biggest one-day ascent of any summit. Even the long days like my ascent of Mt Blanc from the Italian side in 1992 – only involved an 1800 vertical gain day. This was a 2250m gain day by comparison – and no wonder I felt crappy and tired. Pretty soon, it was down, down and down. It began to rain. A lot. As the rain began to slide down my rain pants and into the top bits of my boots, I whipped out some cheapo home-made gaiters. To save weight, I had cut some black bin liners that I could stuff into the top of my socks so that they would extend to the soles of my boots. Rain coming off mypants would then runoff the binliners and over the waterproof boots. This old trick had worked a treat in the past, and did so again that afternoon.

The sky began to change as the sun began to set, filling the horizon with some really interesting hues of blue, and amber. I got into the Laban Rata cafeteria at 630pm, just in time to see Magesh forcing down some food. The “buffet” dinner, which I normally really looked forward to – had lost it’s appeal. I was just too tired to enjoy a big meal. A serving of noodles, veg, and some meat was enough for this weary hiker.

That night, I stayed up long after others had gone to sleep, trying to rehydrate myself with several mugs of lukewarm tea and water. And even when I had hit the bunk, some idiot was snoring like a buzz saw. -for hours!  I really slept around 230am after Magesh and several hundred other people got up to go for the summit in the usual pre-dawn procession. I awoke at 630am, checked my messages (of the joy of network coverage) and enjoyed looking at the shadow of Kinabalu thrown down the side of the mountain.  I relaxed over the great Pendant Hut “2nd” breakfast ( the 230am start offers only hot drinks and toast) of beans, boiled eggs, tinned sausages and more toast with jam. Magesh came back with his summit success around 0930hrs. We left for the descent at about 11am. I felt strong, heading down and began to pick up speed. By the time I reached Layang Layang at 2700m, I began to toy with the idea of beating my own best time down the mountain (not that I had  ever raced down in the old days) of around 3.5 hours.


Carson’s Falls

Just around 1:40 or so, I heard the oh-so-welcome “whooshing” sounds of Carson’s Falls, a landmark that tells you that you are pretty close to Timpohan Gate. Then a few minutes later, you climb the totally pointless 120 steps UPHILL to the Gate, and your trip is over – this time. Time: 2hours 51 minutes. Magesh and Ananias arrived 45 minutes later. A good time for Magesh. The rest of the trip back to Kota Kinabalu was uneventful. Lots to enjoy later – the Gaya Street market on Sunday morning, lots of eating, and a massage. A comfy life is a good life. But you learn more by suffering every now and then.

Also think of those who can’t enjoy many of things that we do.  Support the work of the Society for the Physically Disabled by making a donation today. Thanks for your help.

IMG-20130825 murtabak

Only in Kota Kinabalu: A sardine and veggie murtabak.Traditional Indian fried flat bread stuffed with the fish and vegetables, together with some fish curry.

August 22nd 2013: Flew Silkair to Kota Kinabalu. Magesh and I arrived at Kota Kinabalu’s airport and got picked up by our pre-arranged transport directly to the Park HQ. Much as I would like to save money by staying outside the Park, we needed an early start, hence the stay at the Hill Lodges. This was nice but just so overpriced. The following morning, we packed what we needed to go. Fortunately, Mountain Torq, operator of the world’s highest via ferrata on Mt Kinabalu, and also owner of the Pendant Hut sponsored much of the on-mountain logistics!

Our strategy was not to break any time-based record, and as such, carried more than what most 1-Day climbers normally have: I had a light frameless backpack, 3 light alloy trekking poles (one was a spare), 2.5 litres of water, high energy snacks comprising mixed nuts, various cereal bars, a few GU gels. Other items were  a full set of rain gear, one light warm layer to wear at night, a super light 240gm down jacket from Uniqlo, headtorch, batteries, a weather proof


Magesh and me at Timpohan Gate , 730am Aug 23rd 2013 The summit trail map is in the background

Canon D20 camera, my Blackberry phone and a small ziplock containing First Aid stuff and meds. Altogether, perhaps the pack weighted about 6kgs, a large part of that was the water. There are water tanks at each of the seven rest stops en route to the summit but these are filled with untreated mountain run-off water. not wanting to take that gastro-intestinal risk, I  took bottled water instead. as mentioned, the idea behind the climb was to do a self-supported , porter-less climb, including spending a night onthe mountain at Pendant Hut (3280m) after the summit. After a quick breakfast on eggs, potatoes, a drink, we registered with the Park headquarters, whereupon we met our assigned guide. As someone who normally eschews such aids, I was less keen on doing such straightforward ventures with a local “guide” but since the death of a teenager who got lost and died of exposure in 199, things have changed at Kinabalu National Park. Every hiker/climber needs to wear an ID tag, and strict checkpoints need to be followed so the park tracks the number of people going up and coming down.

Magesh is a fit 34 yearold professional trainer, and he’d been kicking my butt for six months with a training programme that included strength work, core work, and specifically, lots of exercises aimed at strengthening balance and one-legged stance strength; ny long term weakness. A less intense programme in 2012 resulted in one of my best-ever post disablity performances on the 6000-metre virgin peak climb, Sangay Ri, in China in Sept 2012.

My typical weekly training regime would comprise:
– high intensity circuit training for strength or strength endurance ( x2 per weeek)
– one 30 minute hill run
– one staircase climbing session x 45 mins
– one Bukit TImah local hill climbing session x 2 hours
– one “other” session comprising yoga, P90X, or stretching


A 10-minute. rest at the patio of the Laban Rata hut at 3200m. You can see my orthotic device in my boot, and the neoprene substitute “flesh” for my atrophied right ankle

We started at 7am, with a quick ride in a van with a couple of other climbers to the beginning of the Summit Trail at Timpohan Gate ( 1866m). From here, it would be a thigh-busting 2250 metres or so of vertical height gain to the 4095m summit.

We left at 730am, making a quick start and working up a sweat in a few minutes. Mentally, I knew of the list of shelters along the way that were the landmars of the summit trail, each one progressively higher. MOst trekkers would climb with a guide and porter, or go realy light to make the top and return to the base in around 10 hours. We opted for a different approach. Knowing that the trail wouldbe wet and slippery after the typical afternoon downpour, and hazardous with my disability, a one-night stay at Pendant Hut was planned, and though important, the time taken to summit was less of an issue. After all, this was in all probability the first mobility-impaired ascent of the peak!

To be continued…..

Climbing Mount Kinabalu in A Day

For veteran Everest mountaineer and leadership coach, M.I doesn’t mean Mission Impossible, but rather Mobility Impaired.  This MI athlete will be attempting the first known single-day ascent of 4095m high Mount Kinabalu, by an MI athlete.

While most people trekking to the summit cover the ascent over a 2-day period, David has been preparing to make the ascent of Borneo’s summit, in a single day. Several ascents of the popular peak have also been done by other disabled sportsmen, but none, to the best of our knowledge, has done in a single push from the base of the peak (Timpohan Gate at 1866m asl) to the top.

Climbing in aid of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), David’s  climb will begin on August 23rd, 2013. Weather permitting, he aims to make it to the top on the same day, and descend to the Pendant Hut at 3300m; before a descent to the base of the peak on Aug 24th.

Media opportunities include:

–       interview with David Lim

–       photo/ video opportunities of the ultra light weight kit he plans to use on the ascent

–       use of HD clip of training ( in Singapore)

A media briefing will be held on Tuesday, Aug 20th at 11am at:

SPD Ability Centre
2 Peng Nguan Street
Singapore 168955

This climb is made possible with the partnership of:

Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd
Society for the Physically Disabled

Web and Social Media:
David’s expedition website



David Lim
Mob: +65-97492076

Expedition Dispatches:


Four days to go to Kinabalu – it’s been quite a busy period focused on training; especially on strength-endurance wokouts for my weak right hip and leg. Lots of functional training work, repetitions in the 20-25 rep range, and doing a nice mix of that, a run a week, and 2 staircase sessions. It feels like I’m training harder than for the Qinghai virgin peaks climb in 2012!

The plan so far:

Aug 22: flight to Kota Kinabalu followed by a transfer to the national park.
Aug 23: Early start ( critical) at 7-8am to push to the summit, and descent to Pendant Hut at 3300m
Aug 24: further exploration and descent
Aug 25: Return to Singapore

The climb will begin at Timpohon Gate ( 1866m a.s.l) and end (weather permitting) at the summit ( 4095m), 13.6km, and 2400 vertical metres of height gain later.  We’ll then make a slower descent down to Pendant Hut by the late afternoon


mountaintorqEstablished by long time mountaineer, friend and expedition partner Wilfred Tok, Mountain Torq provides a unique mountaineering thrill and challenge. Consider it mountaineering for non-mountaineers. Mountain Torq is a string of routes comprising steel rungs, footplates and cables strung alongside steep cliffs and slopes of Mt Kinabalu. This is a via ferrata (or iron road) first created in the Italian Alps nearly 100 years ago. Since then, these methods of climbing up and traversing mountains have spread throughout Europe. MountainTorq is not only set in Mt Kinabalu,a UNESCO heritage site, but is also the world’s highest via ferrata. Find out more here.

July 7th:

As I prepare, the photo below sums up the various scars, bumps, and injuries I have had of note during my climbing days; including the various permanent disabilities to my hands, and legs after my six month long hospitalisation from total paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 1998:

From August 22 – 25, David Lim will be in the Malaysian state of Sabah, making at attempt to climb from the Kinabalu National Park Timpohan gateway (1800m) to the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4095m) in a day. Virtually all climbers in the park will make a  4- 6 hour ascent from i’s base, to the collection of alpine huts in the Laban Rata area (3300m), overnight, and then leave the next day for the summit climb lasting  another  3-4 hours. David will attempt a rare mobility-impaired (MI) ascent of the peak, and attempt the complete ascent in a single day. Altough David has scaled numerous technical peaks on the summit plateau, and the non-technical Low’s Peak ( the highest point) since 1995, none of his eight trips to Mt Kinabalu have been attempted this way.

There is no information available so far as to whether such a one-day challenge has been completed by anyother MI athlete.

David has permanent disabilities in both legs, and requires the use of an ankle-foot orthoses from footdrop in his right leg; a condition caused by Guillain Barre Syndrome in 1998.

This climb will be in aid of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). The SPD is committed to working in partnership with people with disabilities to develop their potential to the fullest so that they can be self-reliant and independent. It’s vision is “To build an inclusive community where everyone is a part of it, and not apart from it. Your donations go to fund a variety of initiatives, including but not limited to services offered for vocational training, rehabilitation, assistive technology, IT, children’s services and many more. SPD is an instituion of public character and your donation qualifies for 2.5x tax rebate. You can start by making an online donation from as little as SGD$10 at SG Gives, an online portal for Singapore non-profits and charities. 

Make sure you insert in the field that says “Special Occasion/Person” – ” For the Kinabalu 1-Day Ascent” so they can track your contributions. 100% of donations will go directly to the SPD.
spd-img_0254img0050img0016davespd006Left to right: The SPD flag flying high on summits of Kongsberg Peak (2009), Orizaba (2003), Aconcagua (2000) and Kilimanjaro(2004)

– and many more summits since 2000! Stay tuned for more updates and news.


Update ; July 1 – 7: An update on what’s been happening:  A lot of business travel, with 5-day breaks as part of assignments to Melbourne and Yangon in May and July respectively took a shine off the training schedule. That being said, since early 2013, the plan has simply been to get my legs into a as good a shape possible to make the grind up to the summit of Kinabalu happen in late August 2013. IMG-20130625-WA000Training has been reasonably consistent outside those ‘breaks’ mentioned – two gym sessions per week focused on high intensity strength (early 2013) and strength endurance ( since June) plus an additional two cardio or similar sessions involving running, stairs et al. The fact I turned 49 years old on July 2nd is a sobering reminder that this old bird needs to climb and train smarter.

A couple of highlights in the run up to this micro-adventure in August was the 10 -day Chomolhari trek in Bhutan, as well as the breaking of my own post-1998 disability record for the 5-km time during Jun 17th’s Pocari Run; clocking 47:58 minutes. This is an improvement after my first-ever 5km run in the longest  time in 2011 of around 50 minutes. By comparison my all time best of 17:50 as a teenager seems like a lifetime ago

Stay tuned for the next update as the plan comes together….