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 ...

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David ( much better, since being admitted in June) still nosetube fed, undergoing rehab, Sep 1998. He lost 13kgs in hospital! Mike, David and Wilfred – Mt Kinabalu climbs and scrambles, Nov 1999 – 11 months after David’s discharge from hospital. Hi s first ‘ real’ mountain after Guillain- Barre Syndrome David with Co Tolosa in background, Aconcagua National park, Argentina, Dec 2001
Faye on Mt Ararat’s summit, Aug 2001 Team approaching the summit of Mt Ararat, 5165m, Turkey Kaan at 2500m, descending from Ararat
Sunset on west face of Aconcagua. The true North Summit ( 6962m ) is the second ‘bump’ from the left on the skyline


1) Why is this website called

The original 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition 1998 website ran from 1996 – 2001 on a different URL. In 1997, I registered to better serve specific pre-Everest climbs and events. This site now carries events and climbs in which I was involved or led from 1994 to the present day. This includes ” non-Everest” expeditions. I own the website.

2) Where is Singapore?

The Republic of Singapore is a small, diamond-shaped tropical island in Southeast-Asia; just south of the southern tip of it’s northern neighbour Malaysia ( which is much bigger ). It also includes about 60 smaller islands. It runs to about 23 km from north to south and about 42 km from east to west. Singapore has a population of 3.8 million and enjoys a high standard of living and political stability. It is a parliamentary democracy and has sometimes been described as the ” Switzerland” of Southeast – Asia – though we sorely lack snow and mountains. The highest peak in Singapore is Bukit Timah ( Tin Hill in the Malay language ) and ‘ towers’ at 163m. Our highest building stands at 280m. You get the picture – it’s very urbanised here.

3) How many climbers are there in Singapore?

Singapore has over 50 artificial climbing walls and a small granite quarry where rock-climbers can enjoy scaling the real stuff. Technical climbing of any sort began in 1987 and our climbing ‘culture’ and ‘ ethics’ are constantly evolving and becoming closer to international views/ positions. Perhaps over 10,000 people have had a go at rock-climbing but only about 1000 – 2000 who are really active. An annual national climbing competition attracts up to 800 participants annually. A competition circuit exists. There are far fewer alpinists with about 60-70 such climbers and maybe only about 10-20 who are really serious about technical alpine or expedition climbs and go out to feed their habit 1-2 times a year.

4) Why do you climb? It's so dangerous!?

This would take a book to explain. People climb for many reasons. Some climb to be the best; maybe set “records” or for glory. Those things aren’t my main reasons for climbing. I climb to explore my physical and mental limits in an extreme and often beautiful environment. If certain records are set along the way, so be it. Considering how new the sport is in Singapore, it’s “easy” to be a record setter. Climbers in more mature climbing societies have to push the very edge of climbing challenges to get recognised – or differentiate themselves in other ways ( First Pogo-hopping Expedition to the summit of Mt Everest , etc ). Here in Singapore, we should’t kid ourselves in terms of where we are in the pecking order of adventure!

In many ways. climbing (even in local quarries) provides an escape from the high-pressure, failure-intolerant, immigrant society that Singapore is. In a world where we seek to insulate ourselves from pain, discomfort and fear; climbers represent a somewhat anarchic and subversive element.

Factors that make climbing attractive is the lifestyle of training, scaring yourself on rock-climbs every week, hanging out with like-minded friends and sharing stories afterwards. Big expeditions are part of my livelihood and business. This makes climbing slightly less ‘ fun’ these days but allows me to spend up to five months a year in the mountains – which is great. Some projects (such as ASCENT 8000) can benefit certain segments of the community. The success of the 1st Singapore Everest Expedition in 1998 which I led, for example, led to greater recognition and financial assistance to the sport at a national level. Funding for subsequent projects have been easier. Pretty good compared to when this young sport was once viewed as part of the lunatic fringe in Singapore.

5) What do you eat up there?

In the basecamps of big expeditions, you usually hire cook-staff to prepare meals as close to what you are used to eating at home. This means lots of rice, pasta, breads and potatoes plus root vegetables ( they don’t spoil so easily ), canned meats and high energy drinks and snacks. Singapore delights like honey-roasted pork slices, preserved eggs, fruit and beancurd also helps. You need to chow down when at basecamp.

Up high, where appetites wither, you survive on various freezedried foods like FD rice, chicken cubes, vegetables – all kinds of food which just need to be re-constituted with hot water – which you get from cooking snow. It takes a long time to make a litre of boiling water. On the move, energy gels, bars , and such high-calorie snacks help. On an average climbing day at high-altitude, you may burn off 8000 calories but only be able to eat about 2000 calories or less. This is due to reduced appetites at altitude and the time it takes to prepare food.

6) How do you train?

Singapore has a tropical climate with an average daytime temperature of about 31 degrees Celcius and humidity of 90% (! ). This makes physical exercise a very hot and sweaty time. For climbers, a lot of the technical ropework used on rock / alpine-climbs can be learnt in Singapore. For ice and snow, you have to go elsewhere; usually New Zealand or Nepal.

Physical training in the form of running or stair-climbing is recommended as is some weight-training. Personally I train about four – five times a week with different cycles depending on whether I am a bit wasted after a long expedition ( mass-building and strength work emphasised ) or building up to a Himalayan climb ( endurance and strength ). With my disabilities, I have to work much harder on the mountain and back home, do exercises which help my stability ( my lower right leg is pretty disabled ) and endurance. I typically jog 1-2 times a week ( shuffle, really! ), lift weights to a special programme 1-2 times and try to clock in a 1-3 hour long endurance session like stair climbing with a 15 kg pack 1-2 times a week as well . I vary the intensity and variety depending on what I am aiming for. I still have to do some specialised exercises because of my disability. Endurance sessions can last for hours!

I try to eat well and take simple supplements such as a multivitamin/mineral tab most days. Whey protein in mass building cycles helps as does small amounts of creatine monohydrate, lecithin and ginseng.

6) How do you go to the toilet?

At basecamps, human waste is concentrated in pit-style latrines or in plastic barrels eg. at Everest basecamp ( Nepal ). You squat and you do your business. Up high on the mountain, you tend to do it as far as safety, smell and hygiene permits from your campsite. Don’t eat the yellow snow! In certain popular areas like Denali National Park in Alaska, USA; climbers have to pack their ( frozen ! ) waste out in plastic bags. Shitting in a ziplock bag must be an interesting exercise. Climbers usually have clothes which allow for dumping without needing to take the whole garment off ( it’s cold!! ). Usually, zippers or flaps can be dropped down and the zipped back up to allow rapid, ahem – …’dumping’. The highest dump I’ve seen is at 8200-metres and in temperatures around -20 degrees C. Well done, Guy!

7) How do I get to climb a big peak like Mount Everest?

Climbing Everest is a process, not an event. For most serious climbers, Everest is just another large peak that requires more altitude experience than others before a realistic attempt can be made. Owing to the fact that you can hire professional guides to get you up has detracted from the ” adventure” experience somewhat to most climbing purists.Since Everest is unique in that it is still the highest peak in the world, you do attract, in addition to the more serious climbers, a certain ‘ punter’ type of climber who couldn’t , on his own, do routefinding on a classic route in the Alps and climb it competently – but wants to have a crack at Everest.

The beauty of climbing is that there aren’t any rules that say you can’t do it this way.

However, you might want to ask what these kind of people are doing on such a serious mountain. Events of 1996, 1998 and 2001 have, to me, confirmed that a large number of these people on the mountain only serve to endanger other teams’ lives or chances of success. An ignorant media often can’t tell between the merits of a well-oiled publicity machine that champions some relatively mediocre climber going to Everest and the quality of some unknown climb executed in good style by some all-round skilled alpinist from the same country. This propagates a shallow public attitude towards altitude ( ” higher is better” ) and demeans sometimes more worthy ( in mountaineering terms ) ascents.

However, if you do want to climb Mt Everest and dont have much experience, my $0.10 worth of advice is this:

do log in plenty of rock-climbing experience year-round. Plan on acquiring all-round ice and snow skills plus navigation work on lesser peaks. Professional help can speed up your learning curve. The Cascades, the Euro/ New Zealand Alps are classic training grounds. Then move to bigger peaks and soak in some independent expedition experience ie without sherpas and guides. Some climbers I know have never left the cradle, preferring to climb exclusively with guides. This is a very individual decision. However, I feel that un-guided climbing speeds up maturity and helps independent decision-making. This is especially critical in situations where you might have to find your way back off the peak without the guide.

Overall, I think there is more satisfaction in knowing how you performed on your own skills and judgement. However, success is also important and perhaps overly important to some climbers; so getting a guide stacks the odds of success in one’s favour.

Typically, some destinations in the 5000m – 6000m bracket may include Alaska, the India Himalaya, Nepal’s trekking peaks ( the harder ones ), Mexico. Bolivia and some great parts of the Andes. After this, a great primer is to go for a high 7000er or low 8000m peak for the final test before Everest. Your timeline may be about 3 -5 years depending on your inclination, talent and ability to raise the $$$ to go.

Getting along with a team ( even with one other buddy ) is important as is keeping the goal in perspective. Some scary things happen when a bunch of highly egotistical climbers with not much experience and/or team spirit come together; paying guides to help them to the top. I have seen summit fever killing a friend and nearly killing another when their clients kept going up when they should have been going down. I have seen team players working their butts of in lousy weather doing team chores when others on the team slouch around. Some of the most successful, well-known adventurers have also been rather selfish and poor team players. The rise of commercially guided expeditions have allowed some of these individuals to make a career of climbing within a team ( and thus increasing their personal chances of success ) and yet not be fully engaged or responsible when the s**t hits the fan.

Of course it isn’t as black and white as all this. There have been numerous successful and happy guided, commercial expeditions and some outstanding individuals who joined to fulfil their dreams without forsaking team ideals.

If you don’t summit, you have to think about what else the trip meant to you and friendships last a lifetime. But to some, the summit, lucrative film/ endorsements/lecture deals count for more. You choose.

The more climbs you do and the harder they are, the better your chances will be at coping with stuff that Everest will chuck at you. Good luck.

9) Are there animals up there in the mountains?

You can find a great variety of mountain animals; at least up to a point where beyond which you find little vegetation or smaller animal life to sustain larger animals. In Argentina, you can find mice and guanacos ( a kind of llama ) as high as 5,000 metres. In the Alps, common creatures include the ibex ( a kind of mountain deer ), marmots, rabbits and more nice. Spectacular winged animals include the Andean condor in Chile and Argentina as well as as the lammergeier ( Tibet ) . Many of these animals are now endangered and the encroachment on their grazing grounds or wanton poaching or illegal hunting has reduced many of their numbers.

10 ) How do you feel when you get to the top?

Most of the time relief and then some elation. Most sobering is the thought you have to make an equally if not more arduous descent down, often in the last daylight hours.

11) Are the mountains very polluted these days?

Yes and no. It largely depends on how well -managed certain areas are in terms of regulations; deposits demanded from climbing groups ( in case their leave litter everywhere ) and climber’s own attitudes. Areas that are heavily impacted need the most care eg the Everest region. But due to greater awareness in preserving the environment things in the Himalaya are somewhat better than , say 20 years ago. Large fines and bonds demanded of expeditions also help somewhat to enforce the rules. It should also be noted that whilst mountaineers are high profile and sometimes make easy targets, much of the pollution ( controlled or otherwise ) are generated by trekkers and mountain walkers who outnumber climbers by 100:1. It needs a concerted effort by local authorities and those who visit the mountains to keep them as pristine as possible.

I couldn’t have made so many successful climbs without the advice, help and companionship of some of my best friends and counsellors. Below are some new friends, old friends and some good people who aren’t around anymore. Since 1999, I’ve decided to only climb with people who share my beliefs about climbing and people who work on making the trip a good one for everyone rather than just focusing on their own summit ambitions.

The late alpinist Roger Baxter-Jones said that the three most important things about a mountaineering trip are ” come back alive, come back friends and get to the top – in that order of importance “. I believe in that.

Safe Climbing!

David Lim

Rock-climbing for the Disabled ( Nov 2001 ) : As part of ASCENT 8000’s activities in Singapore, I am organising rock-climbing clinics to bring this great sport to the disabled. Just the sight of the smiles on the faces of some of the participants makes it all worthwhile. I have seen people in terrified prayer before their turn – and then be encouraged by their cheers later. Other activities include motivational talks at schools for 2001/2001

Right: Tok Beng Cheong aka ” Wilfred” – like me, he has a foundation of alpine climbs in the French and Swiss Alps. When he teamed up with me for Aconcagua in 2000, he knew he was having on board a real ” pai kar” ( Hokkien dialect for ” bad leg ” ) person. But his strength and patience helped make the climb, the first all-Singapore ascent of Aconcagua, a success. He works as a student office in Singapore Polytechnic and is planning on a return to technical alpine climbs.

Left: Alan Silva and Justin Lean having fun at Hindhede Quarry, c.1994. Both these great guys were part of my climbing life as we scratched our way up Singapore rock climbs in the ‘ 90s. Justin was a key guy and biggest team player of the Everest expedition 94-98

L to R: Jan Arnold, Justin Lean, Rob Hall and me;

Hindhede Quarry, Sep 1994
New Zealand guide Rob Hall and his wife Jan in Singapore in 1994. Rob provided great insights into organising Everest expeditions. A stop at Christchurch after each climb in the NZ Alps wouldn’t be complete without a meal with Rob. Tragically, he died Everest in May 1996 together with his client near the South Summit. Hanging out almost every weekend in the climbing quarries was part of my life before I became disabled in 1999. I established a few interesting new routes between 1991 and 1994.

Ming Nuru Sherpa and Man Bahadur Tamang on the summit of Putha Hiunchuli ( 7246m ), Sep 1996 in Nepal. I learned many lessons about kindness from these two friends of mine. MB was to later become the ” sirdar” or head sherpa for my expedition to Everest in 1998. Ming Nuru has moved to marketing for his trekking agency in Kathmandu

Left: Mohamed Rozani in India, 1995

Right: Gil Piekarz in Tibet, 2001

Rozani ( Roz ) and Gil were just 50 vertical metres from the 7950m camp on Everest’s North Ridge in May 2001 when they turned back on our summit push. I was very tired at about 7700m and frostnipped from galeforce winds and had decided to descend. These two guys gave up their summit chance, caught up with me on the descent and made sure I was OK. What a great team. Gil’s back in Curitiba, Brazil working as a geologist and Roz has quit repairing Ferraris for someone else and has started out on his own as a service technician

Left: Alan Silva on the summit rocks going up to Mt Cook’s summit, Feb 1995. I was to complete the classic Zurbriggen’s Ridge on Mt Cook, New Zealand with Alan. At 1300 vertical metres and 1000m of steep 55degree water ice, it was the hardest ‘problem’ I’d done. For Alan – just another day’s climb!

Alan was also on my summit team when we summitted Cho Oyu ( 8201m ) in 1997

Alan’s comeback to Singapore after several years away and works as an aircraft engineer.

Left: Edwin ” Ultraman “Siew on the summit of Mount Everest, 630am, May 25th, 1998. Edwin was one of the youngest and least experienced of our team but he was a great team player and everything worked out for him in the end as he became the first Singapore climber to summit the Big Hill . In 2000, he trekked with an all-Singapore team to the South Pole. He still works for Outward Bound Singapore.

Left: Picture from the 1996 Kinabalu climb. Peter Terbush grew up as a teenager in Singapore and was part of my climbing circle. A fearless climber and a good friend also of Justin and Scotty ( see above ), Peter climbed Jogin I, a 6000m peak in India in 1995 with Justin before leaving to further his studies in 1997 in the USA.

Peter was killed in a huge rockfall on Glacier Apron, Yosemite Valley in June 1999. He was belaying his partner but held his position instead of running away, almost certainly saving his friend’s life.

Peter was 21.

Scotty Nelson and me, c. 1999, Singapore
Scotty also grew up as a teenager on Singapore’s puny rock climbs but has sinced moved to bigger rock, having climbed the Shield, the Nose on El Capitan and some really humongous climbs in Yosemite.

The love of my life, Maureen – who wants me to come back from any climb as quickly as possible. This is hard, as you can imagine, if the climb needs a month or more to complete!

I would like to thank all my corporate friends for believing in ASCENT 8000 and its goals. WIthout your support, these climbs would not be possible.

Sponsors, depending on their level of commitment, receive brand and product exposure and my involvement for their special events. They also receive mention in all media releases, use of video and still images and Internet privileges such as links to their sites, product features, and motivational presentations.

Thanks a million!

David Lim,

Jan 2002


The Singapore Sports Council’s ( SSC ) role is to promote sport in Singapore through various Sports for All events and the the development of elite programmes under it Sports Excellence programmes. Mountaineering is deemed as a sport that ‘challenges’ and is supported by the SSC.

Cruise into their website which includes sports nutrition and training advice.

Camp Scandinavia is a leading Swedish manufacturer of innovative orthotic products including the ingenious Toe-Off ankle-foot orthotic that’ s helped David regain his mobility.

The Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled’s mission is to promote and develop disability sports in Singapore. Sports participation under SSCD’s various programmes encourages the disabled to integrate themselves with mainstream society.


Canon is ASCENT 8000’s Official Expedition Digital Camera provider. David will be using Canon’s latest S40 camera and other Canon video equipment to capture the spectacular images from his climbs.

ACeS is an Indonesian multi-national satellite communications organisation and is ASCENT 8000’s Official SATCOMs provider. Together with ACeS, David hopes to send and receive email, pictures – and bring the expedition closer to your desktops.

Trans Equatorial Engineering is one of Singapore’s fastest growing medium-sized engineering enterprises. It has a $25 million turnover annually, employs 100 staff and specialises in high-end electrical engineering works.

DDB Singapore is one of the largest advertising and media agencies in Singapore and part of an international group. DDB’s pro bono assistance includes exhibition support and media/ design work for ASCENT 8000. They designed the ASCENT 8000 logo! Thanks Greg, Lennard and Tim!

Thai Airways International

Some people and bodies have given generously to the project or to the SSCD in conjunction with this project. It would be amiss not to mention the kind donations in kind or in cash, time and goodwill from the following…

  • NTUC Income Cooperative
  • Kelvin Chen
  • Ad Idem Productions

THE CLIMBS (and the team)


ASCENT 8000’s original plans were to make an ascent of Shishapangma (Tibet) at 8,012m (or 8,027m depending which map you have) in Apr – May 2002 – followed two weeks later by an ascent of Nanga Parbat , 8,125m in Pakistan.

However, events following the horrific tragedy of Sept 11 and the Indo-Pakistani confrontation now dictates that an alternative is needed. ASCENT 8000 will now climb Shishapangma and Cho Oyu (8,201m) in Tibet

For David, Cho Oyu will be familiar terrain. He summitted this peak in Sep 1997 on bottled oxygen – in preparation for the 1998 Everest climb. This time, it’s a different ball-game. He has a disabled leg and will be doing it without bottled oxygen. The crux section of Shishapangma will be the knife-edge traverse from the Central Summit (8,008m) to the Main Summit ( 8,012/27m ) whilst Cho Oyu’s twin ice cliffs will prove an arduous section for David.

Both peaks will be attempted by their normal routes from the north.

Right: Left circle indicates location of Shishapangma; the right circle shows Cho Oyu’s location up the Gyabrag glacier. The red line is the team’s route by jeep and foot to the basecamps

Below: Map showing locations of the peaks


CHO OYU, 8201m

Shishapangma is the only 8000m standing entirely in China Tibet. It’s name means ” The mountain overlooking the grassy plains ” . When China annexed Tibet in 1949, the mountain soon adopted a Sino-Tibetan name of ” Xixabangma ” meaning ” bad weather”. In 1964, in a massive, national pride exercise the peak was sieged by a combined Chinese-Tibet team and successfully climber.

It was the last of the 14 peaks in the world over 8000 metres to be climbed. After reaching basecamp at 4500m, three successively higher camps will be established. ASCENT 8000’s plan is to place three camps before a summit bid is made.

Cho Oyu means ” The Turquoise Mountain” although variations exist as to its name. Edmund Hillary made an abortive attempt to climb this peak in 1952, in preparation for the historic Everest success of 1953.

Eventually, it was to fall to Austrian Herbert Tichy who climbed it in lightweight style ( minimal ropes, sherpa support and small teams ) in 1954. Since peaks in Tibet have been re-opened for climbing since 1980, Cho Oyu has become one of the most popular with over 1000 ascents to date. There are however 2 small icecliffs which are steep and are strenuous and avalanche risk after a heavy snowfall. The summit route is in red and David is standing below the yellow blob!


David Lim MB Tamang

The ASCENT 8000 team comprises old friends Man Bahadur Tamang, a Nepali and Singaporean David Lim; both professional climbers. David has known ” MB” since 1996 and MB has been involved with a number of sherpa teams before and since then. MB, who hails from the Solu Khumbu region, now lives in Kathmandu with his family. He has climbed Everest four ( ! ) times and is a remarkably strong climber by any standard.

David brings with him more than a decade of climbing technical routes in the New Zealand and European Alps. Many of these are first Southeast Asian ascents and include Mt Cook by Zurbriggen’s Ridge (1995), Mt Tasman’s Syme Ridge and Silberhorn Traverse (1996), the northwest face of the Grand Combin (1996) and many more.

High altitude climbs include Cho Oyu (summit 97), Everest from both southern and northern routes( to 7,400m and 7,700m respectively), Dhaulagiri VII (7,246m ) and numerous 5,000-6,000m summits.

Together, they will make a go at the two 8,000m peaks, back-to-back, without oxygen.

Without a doubt, sports is great for anyBODY. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, develops self-esteem in its participants and provides a tremendous outlet for self -expression. David Lim was rendered partially disabled as a result of nerve damage from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare nerve disorder where the immune system attacks the body’s peripheral nerves; sometimes irreparably.

A key goal of ASCENT 8000 is to encourage everyone to see that the disabled are just like other people who need sports in their lives. The major groupings of disability are ( with differing degrees of impairment ) deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy , mental impairments and physical disabilities such as polio or resulting from amputations .

A disability has a profound effect on the lives of those who have to live with them as well as for those around the disabled person. Recognition of the special needs of the disabled in the Republic of Singapore has not been as great as in most developed countries but support is growing

ASCENT 8000’s key partner in this quest is the Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled whose mission is:





On April 2nd, partially disabled Singaporean mountaineer David Lim summitted Mera l Peak* ( 6476m ) as part of his acclimatisation for climbing two of the world’s biggest peaks, Shishapangma and Cho Oyu. The expedition, known as ASCENT 8000 is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of disability sport.

Mera Peak is located at the head of the quiet and remote Hinku valley, an area of the Mt Everest region rarely frequented by trekkers or visitors. Lim, Singapore’s first professional mountaineer, and his Nepali partner MB Tamang did not have the usual kitchen crew that all teams use in the Hinku. They travelled into Mera basecamp with just two porters.

Climbing in light-weight style, Lim and Tamang placed a high glacier camp at 5,700m on March 31st and then made a summit bid starting at 4:30am on April 2nd. The route on Mera Peak is normally straightforward but consistently bad weather on the 9-day approach meant the team had to struggle through soft snow and -20degree conditions. There were no other teams on the mountain at that time.

Lim says:” There were storm clouds at a distance over the Mt Everest region and to the north, the sky was simply black. But to the west of us there was clear weather and the winds are not so high so we went for it.”

The climb took six hours and the summit reached at 1030am. Lim called Singapore via his ACES satellite telephone from the summit’; “just as clouds came over and a hasty descent was in order”

Lim sustained some minor frostnip in his fingers and a bad pressure bruise on his right, disabled ankle. This necessitated walking out of the rugged Hinku valley for three days wearing a sandal as footwear for his right foot.

“It was pretty tricky, balancing on rocks, icy patches for hours each day with a light boot on one foot and a sandal on the other!”, he said.

Now in Kathmandu, Lim is headed for Tibet on Saturday to begin his climbs of Shishapangma ( 8012m ) and subsequently Cho Oyu ( 8201m ). The expedition’s progress can be followed on

” I feel pretty acclimatised of the big event,” said Lim. ” I just need a bit of luck with the weather for the big climbs ahead.”


May 27th, 2002

Clarification from Kathmandu:

* Mera Peak comprises three summits; the highest being the North summit at 6476m. MB Tamang seemed certain the peak we were climbing was the ‘ summit’ ( he had climbed there in 1993 ) and one map that we checked showed it to be the highest point. But upon checking other information sources, it now appears that the highest point was NOT reached. We had reached the Central Summit ( 6461m ) , a prominent ‘summit’ on the complex glacier plateau. While most teams consider this the ‘summit’ as the North summit has a large crevasse cutting across the entire route and insurmountable without considerable equipment, we do not consider ourselves as having climbed to the top. Nevertheless, we feel we had done a good job climbing this 6000m subsidiary summit as part of our warmup climb for the 8000ers.

David Lim

2 Apr 2002, 10:35am

Mera Peak
Hi there!
Calling from the summit of Mera Peak. Standing in the middle of a fantastic white-out right now. The whole peak is in the midst of heavy cloud cover. We can’t take any photos or video, so MB and myself is spending our time eating and drinking!! Cheers!!

The climb up was difficult (even though this was just an acclimatisation climb), we had knee deep snow and mush. Had a head cold and this was affecting my breathing but I just kept at it… sucking air and putting one foot in front of the other.

Right now, after a bit of food and water, I feel much better, already… hey!!! Looks like the sun’s coming up…
We will be moving down to Lukla over the next four days. See ya!

1 Apr 2002, 5,600m

Mera High Camp
Reached Mera High Camp yesterday. Will make a summit attempt tomorrow, early in the morning. The weather have been bad, with lots of mushy snow in the afternoon. We have been getting “graupel”, snow that comes in the form of small lumps. This is not the usual snow flakes. This makes the going a bit harder. We had to plough through the mush. From where we stand, we can see the north side of Mt Everest. The weather does not look too good over there too. Batteries running a bit low…

30 Mar 2002, 12 noon (Singapore), 5,415m

Mera La
Reached Mera La (5,415m) – (Mera Base Camp) yesterday. We will go for Mera High Camp on Sunday. A long walk from Khare. We have been having snow showers in the afternoon.

We are having blue skies right now, and from where we stand, we can see Mera Peak standing up there in the clear blue sky. The air is dry, expected, and MB and myself have been drinking loads of water, tea and stuff to keep hydrated.

We are in good health and MB is trying his hand with the video camera. Looks like the clouds are coming in and we might be having a bit of snow later.

27 Mar 2002, 4200m, Thangnak

Had a hard day plodding yesterday. Walked from 4,100m down to 3,400m to Kothe. The walk involves a lot of up and downs. Old paths were swept away recently because part of Sabai Tsho, a mountain range, broke away in an avalanche.

Have reached Thangnak, a little hamlet, today. This village is at 4,200m. The weather seems to be getting better, a lot more sunshine in the morning. We met an Australian team of 4 persons, returning from their climb. They look pretty happy with themselves.

We have been having meals from the small guest-houses enroute. We get a lot of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and dal-baht (a thick Nepalese vegetable stew), and the occasional egg. Somehow I feel like sinking my teeth into some meat… (we are saving our dried meat for later). Tomorrow, we will move on to Khare before we reach the base of Mera, our first challenge.

Both MB and myself are feeling great, spirits are high even if we are feeling a bit hungry for something on hoofs.

25 Mar 2002 (4,100m, Hinku Valley)

Arrived at Lukla 2,500m on the Mar 22. We were delayed by bad weather and as a result lost 3 hours. This means that we only begin our trek on Mar 23. We established our first camp at 3,400m. Had lots of hot tea and rice, burp!!

Mar 24, we trekked further and reached an altitude of 3,800m. Nice hike. We had showers of “snow” in the afternoon and evening. Mar 25, we went up to 4,000m. Today, we crossed 2 passes one at 4,500m and the other at about 4,700m at Zatrewa La. Met the Shishapangma Expedition members, Mok, Robert and Edwin coming down from their acclimatisation climb. They are well and healthy. The last time the four of us were together was on our 1st Mt. Everest Expedition. It’s been a while…

After the climbing the passes at Zatrewa la, me and MB Tamang descended down to 4,100m into the Hinku Valley. Tomorrow, we will make our way to Tadna, if the weather holds up. Right now, it is cloudy with occassional sunshine. We had a bit of”graupel” today. Graupel is not something we eat. It is small round balls of snow!!

I have a bit of sinus today but that aside, I feel good.

23 Mar 2002

(4:12pm Satphone Report at 4,300m.)
Hi, This is David calling.

We were delayed by some bad weather yesterday, so we could not get on an immediate start from Lukla, the mountain airstrip. But we have finished the day’s trekking today at 4:15 pm (Singapore time). Tomorrow I am deciding whether we will go for the passes at Zatrewa la at 4500m and 4700m or spend another night here at 3400m.

Interesting thing is that I may get to meet Mok and boys from the Shishapangma Expedition as they are also acclimatising in this area. Feeling good, everyone in good health.

21 Mar 2002

Greetings from a very wet and soggy Kathmandu. For the first time in seven visits, the mountains were not visible from the Thai Airways flight, so even the excellent Thai dessert served on board could not make up for it. At 4:30pm the heavens opened up. Apparently, the recent unseasonal rainy weather is like a barometer of people’s feelings -in Thamel at least. Here, in the heart of the tourist district, a gloomy mood prevails. Business is down and it’s palpable. The shopkeepers are more eager for business and the streets less crowded.

I will take the mountain flight into Lukla tomorrow for the start of a 3-week acclimatisation climb. All the rain down here means snow up high, so I’ll take it as it comes. There will be limited pictures posted from now but I’ll continue to send dispatches by audio….and update picture files when I get back in April.


Mar 17

Top: Mayor Heng ( left ) trying on an 8000m down suit as David lends a hand. Above: David’s ACES satellite telephone and Canon digital cameras

ASCENT 8000 had its pre-departure media event on Mar 14; attended by 25 members of the media, supporters and Expedition Patron, Mr Heng Chee How, Mayor of Central Singapore Council.
Said expedition patron and Central Singapore mayor Heng Chee How:

‘David is a shining example for Singaporeans on how we can set our goals and overcome and exceed our perceived limitations with determination and belief.’

The story was captured in the press in The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaabao and Today newspapers and also on Channels 5, U, I as well as the regional Channelnewsasia network.

David departs on Mar 21st

Feb 11

Note from David . Weekly training is being cranked up with at least two three/four hour hill sessions with the usual 15kg pack plus additional cardio sessions. Core stability exercises also figure in my training, especially since his legs dont work like normal ones. The often neglected back and waist muscles are critical in maintaining stability when carrying large loads. Weight sessions in th egym have been scaled back but work is ongoing for strength maintenance.
Weather: After a wet January, hot and dry conditions are back but this is all relative since humidity here is usually 90% which makes any prolonged workout rather dehydrating. The trick is to keep drinking….

Mar 13

One week to go! ASCENT 8000 is pleased to receive on behalf of the Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled a cheque for $1,000 from NTUC Income Cooperative, a household name in insurance and essential services here.

The Cho Oyu Route:

The long route up Cho Oyu. Photo taken from Advance BaseCamp.

Reaching Camp 2 after climbing up 2 ice cliffs, the route upwards remains tough and challenging.


June 13

After numerous misleading press and media reports, primarily by the local newspaper, The Straits Times, pressure from the climbing community as well as a sense of doing the right thing has made me issue the following statement. The Singapore team in question have now admitted, after other media covered this controversy, that they did not reach the top of Xixabangma as previously declared in the media. However, they have not accepted that their claimed alpine-style ascent is in dispute. The reader/surfer can read the following, surf to the relevantwebsites and decide for themselves. The Straits Times have elected not to publish the letter below to correct their previous reports nor report on the controversy.


The Singapore Xixabangma team and my former Everest 98 team-mates returned recently to accolades for their fine efforts on the mountain It was an all-Singapore summit day, without the use of oxygen, and on one of the world’s highest peaks.

But the Singapore team did not climb to the top of this mountain, as reported in the media. They were inaccurately described as having climbed to the top of the peak when the true ( Main ) summit is several hundred metres away at the end of an exposed ridge and higher than the Central summit which they climbed instead.

The team’s claim to have climbed it alpine-style is also questionable.

Alpine-style climbing evolved in the Alps and is broadly defined as climbing a route in a single, continuous push without the use of external help eg sherpa porters to carry gear, without the use of pre-placed fixed rope, camps, caches of supplies and without reconnoitring the route..

Their basecamp manager’s clarification that the public had been told that the climbing sherpas would be hired for only the acclimatisation/ build-up phase and not the summit climb misses the point entirely.

If sherpas are used to lessen the team’s fatigue immensely by pre-placing camps, carrying loads and so on for weeks prior to an “unassisted” summit push by an all-Singaporean team in the final days of the expedition, isn’t this amounting to external help ? More importantly, by reconnoitring most of the route before the summit push, the team sought to remove as much of the unknown factors of the route which are part of alpine-style climbing.

Sir Chris Bonington, the leading British expedition leader of his generation, when asked, thinks that the Singapore ascent is not in alpine-style. He said,” true Alpine style is without any kind of preparation or recce’s” .

The others who doubt the team’s claim include Ms Elizabeth Hawley, the eminent Himalayan mountaineering historian and Mr Joss Lynam, Head of the Expeditions Committee of the Union of International Alpine Associations ( UIAA ).

The team placed on themselves a significant climbing standard but then sought to tweak the ‘rules’, the essence and spirit of alpine style climbing until it became an issue to anyone with a strong background and understanding of this noble ideal and style of climbing. This is not a trivial issue for mountaineers here and abroad.

In the team’s website ( )
, a member of the team also claims the first Southeast-Asian alpine-style ascent of a 7000m peak in 1996. In reality he had previously recce’d most of the route on acclimatisation climbs and had used a sherpa to help carry a load and climb with him on his final summit push.

It seems the definition of “alpine style” that excludes use of such external help is modified by members of the team when it suits them. Surely this cannot be right.

This in itself does not detract, as mentioned earlier, from what would be described as a fine lightweight ascent of the lower summit by the team which does them credit. But it would do them more credit if they had refuted the misleading media reports of their climbing to the top as well as conceding their claim to have climbed the peak in ” alpine style”.

David Lim

26 May 2002, Kathmandu

60 Days on High Ground

I arrived back in Kathmandu on Friday evening, our driver expertly throwing our Land Rover Defender Mk 2 around rain soaked roads from Kodari. Dodging villagers, dogs, other vehicles, all went well until at extremely low speed in a Kathmandu alley, he ran into a low metal grating. You can’t win ’em all.

At this stage, I’d like to thank all my supporters, sponsors and well wishers. Amongst the sponsors, I’d like to thank the people from CAMP Scandinavia, the only foreign sponsor (not even an office in Singapore) for their assistance and belief in me. Their new prototype ankle-foot brace has done the rounds here. Canon, who kindly arranged for a mission-critical cable to be supplied in Kathmandu when I was missing it last month. I have some neat footage but missed some wonderful chances 2 days ago. We were desperately clinging on for safety that such chances had to be let go.

The Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled have been a solid but quiet partner as have the Singapore Sports Council. Asia Cellular Satellite have worked wonderfully, and allowed me to send the exciting photos and dispatched consistently in these 60 days as well as helping out when a tragedy needed some SATCOM use up high recently. Thanks too to Ting Sern who had put together the SATCOM power solutions.

I can tell you how distressing and lonely it was at 7,900m on Cho Oyu when I had to beckon to MB Tamang to descend from his position slightly higher up and call off the summit climb. There were not only tears for the disappointment but also tears of exhaustion. 60 days of climbing not one, two but three peaks and no success on the 2 main objectives. In short , I had given 100%,maybe more, but was beaten – first of exhaustion and insufficient fixed line on Shishapangma and then of pure exhaustion from the sustained difficult ground on Cho Oyu. My bad leg had let me down. A summitter with experience with GPS coordinates has now corrected all my previous altitude markers ( from my uncalibrated wrist altimeter ). These are:

Camp 1 = 6,350m
Camp 2 = 7,100m
Turnaround point = 7,900m

Now with several days of rest I have looked back at the most intense climbing expedition of my life and have taken stock. In my mind, when no disabled climber in the world has attempted such two peaks back-to-back and when many are climbing with a whole posse of sherpas for support to my sole Tamang partner, the odds were stacked hugely against us. Encouragement comes from strange quarters. Climbing sherpas throughout this trip have made great remarks about how wonderful it is that I’m trying to give these peaks a shot without the usual entourage of foreign guides and local support teams. To have praise from these enormously cheerful and strong climbers makes me feel proud to keep the flag flying Italians, Dutch, Germans have also given me much support even if I am I’m climbing with such difficulties.

To have climbed to 7,600m (Shishapangma) and 7,900m (Cho Oyu) over tough terrain with no external aids save what fixed line was available was an uncompromising position to take. Perhaps in the future I might accept more help. We had no air or ground support to call upon if the going got tough or if we lost equipment and I think this style of climbing makes easy successes impossible. But we leave with our self-respect.


26 May - Death On Cho Oyu

Tragedy Strikes the Irish Team.

Three Irishmen from both the Republic and the north came to climb Cho Oyu. My only contact with them comes at Camp 1 when I meet them coming down from Camp 3 after a successful summit bid. The following account is not necessarily the most accurate but tries to capture the gist of what happened on those fateful days. The full story no doubt will emerge from the survivors of the climb.

In the second week of May, Richard and Humphrey had planned to summit from Camp 2 at 6,925m, normally a practice reserved for only the strongest climbers (or sherpas). Adam elected to climb to Camp 3 and meet with the two others in the early hours of the morning. Richard and Humphrey left very early, hooked up with adam and proceeded for the top. However, very shortly after leaving Camp 3, Adam was not feeling the best and decided to descend to Camp 3/2. He was advised to rest up and keep warm and await for the returning climbers. He had a radio.

The two Irishmen summitted and descended late in the day to C3 and then the following day to C1 where I met them. The following day, their elation was tempered with the fact that they had had no radio contact with Adam (there was a radio at their camp at ABC). Evidence at C2 showed he was there briefly but no other signs. The real sense of desperation and fear sank in when they contacted Jamie McGuinness, a mountain guide with whom they had some rapport. Jamie reported no sign of Adam’s rucksack or him at ABC.

If someone is missing for 2 days on a big hill like Cho Oyu and is nowhere safe on the mountain, there is a 99% chance he is toast. Still, the two exhausted climbers went back up to the first icecliff where a large crevasse may have swallowed Adam up. The two descended to ABC, lacking time, energy and resources for a full SAR. My ACeS phone came in handy for them to report their missing friend to the UK insurance underwriters. They also hoped to contact the family of Adam.

A day later at Camp 2, a sherpa reported seeing a body in a specific crevasse. It looked new, and had a jacket which matched Adam’s. The mystery seemed to be over although the tragedy had only just begun. There are two fixed ropes passing this section. A pink one passes cleanly by the crevasse. The other ends abruptly just above the lip of the crevasse. It is not inconceivable that Adam had clipped into this rope and then found it ending abruptly above the chasm. Unclipping, he might have slipped and taken a quick plunge into the crevasse. We don’t know.

Jamie, with whom I share kitchen facilities at Cho Oyu ABC, requested I poke my head over that crevasse and take a few photos of the body for insurance and death certificate purposes. This was a grisly task but one which I accepted as part of being on such an expedition – one tries to do what one can to help others if one can.

In the end, Adam’s parents requested a full body retrieval and one is currently under way, interrupted temporarily by the bad weather last week. McGuninness and Tshering Bhote are attempting the retrieval.

The friends and parents of Adam receive my full sympathy and condolences and I hope the retrieval and repatriation of the body and/or personal effects will help everyone achieve some form of closure of this tragic event. Cho Oyu is considered one of the ‘ safer’ 8000m peaks. However, Adam’s death and the death of three sherpa climbers in 2001 is a reflection of how these mountains have a dozen places where you can get yourself killed.


23 May 2002 Chinese BaseCamp (4,900m)

(22:20hrs Singapore)
It was a long walk down to BaseCamp with the yaks. The yaks are wonderful creatures, able to carry a good size load. But walking behind yaks is another experience. One always have to keep an eye on where I put my foot down.

Next leg of my journey will be to return to Kathmandu and that long awaited bath.


20 May 2002 Advance BaseCamp

Two fried eggs, a pancake and a sprinkling of black pepper. If you’ve just had a horrible 9 hour day descending in a windstorm, this is the closest you’ll get to culinary heaven. I missed adding that apart from 2 -3 mugs of hot tea, you’ve also had nothing to eat but six small biscuits all day. (see route!!)

I’m down from Cho Oyu. We didn’t make the top but got to 7,800m and past most of the technical difficulties of the route. We got to ABC on May 13th, rested a day and went straight up to Camp 1 (6,300m) or so. This camp is right on the glacier’s edge. This was followed by a hard haul over 2 ice cliffs and then to Camp 2 (6,925m). In 1997, I recalll we had a fine day to Camp 3 at 7,350m and took (for me anyway) 5 1/2 hours. This time, in bad (snowy, cloudy) weather, we made it in 3 1/2 hours and with bigger loads – you go figure….

The weather was brilliant on Friday and we thought we’d missed the best of it. Our day on Sunday started on 4am where we climbed up to the 50m vertical rock band. Unlike the 1997 route I was successful on, the fixed line and route took the most direct and thus most vertical approach to the summit block. The route was about 50 m through granite and then 50 degree snow couloirs for about 100m and the an unprotected slabby bit that went on for another 100m before the big snowpatch underneath the summit block.

By this time, it had taken me about 5-6 hours and the wind was picking up. It would be easy to say that this was why we turned round. But the truth of the matter is that the very tough terrain was murder on my bad leg and the energy spent compensating for it had completely fatigued me. We had taken on the mountains on its terms and we’d been beaten. We had been leading the small pack all the day and were happy to let an Italian couple at that stage take over and make the top. I’ll send a pic of the route soon. I had given 100% but it wasn’t enough. We dropped back to Camp 2 – disappointed but knowing we had done our best.

If there was one reason for failure to summit both Shishapangma and Cho Oyu it would be a lack of compromise in style. Perhaps in the future, I should, like so many disabled climbers gunning for the big peaks, get a posse of sherpas to lay fixed rope ahead of me and / or carry everything. My insisting on doing as much as I could, this may have lessened the margins of success. I’m not sure where the line between a mountain tourist and adventurer lies but I’m sure I’m well inside the right line.

The descent the next day was a small epic. Windy weather had been predicted but not the 70kmh sort that knocks you of your feet. My camping mat went ballistic as a gust of wind caught it. It’s in the next glacier system now. Descending the two ice cliffs was also scary and tough. My left hand was half frozen and the ropoes were stuck in the ice. Finally, we cleared these obstacles only to meet more strong winds. The same Italian couple were almost blown off the ridge. Finally, the four of us roped ourselves as two pairs and inched our way down – four legs per group better for balance in the strong winds.

It was 8 – 9 hours before I was back in ABC – and now for those eggs and pancakes by Gyanu, our cook.

20 May, 2002 Advance BaseCamp 5,600m

(23:05hrs Singapore)
We started the day with the hope that it will be a quiet climb down after our summit attempt. We were exhausted from yesterday’s attempt. Moving off from Camp 2, we started towards the ice cliffs. We had to get down. As we approach the cliffs, we began to get a bit of a breeze. Strong and gusty.

When we reached the ice cliffs, we found that the ropes were glued down. The freezing cold has effectively glued our ropes to the walls. Getting down seems a real challenge. MB and me spent at least 15 mins trying to figure out how to get down. The winds began to pick up. Exposed on top of the ice cliffs, we decided to make our way down. MB and me roped together and wormed our way down. We were like flies on a wall. Using what rope we can find, rope that stayed detached from the wall., we struggled down. Being linked to MB has been very comforting. MB is a pillar of strength. Midway, as we crabbed down the ice walls, the winds started to pull and tug at us. I think they were blasting at about 70 miles/hr. It is like being grabbed and pulled from behind. Only in this case, when I looked over my shoulder, I see the white snow flying in the winds. A mistake here will mean falling down the ice cliffs. Clinging on the ice wall, I feel that if I were to let go, I could actually fly off in a wind like this. As if to answer to my thoughts, one of my karrimats ripped off from its harness on my backpack. It flew off in the direction of Mt Everest… perhaps if any climber finds a karrimat that has my name on it flapping about, please return it to me. I would appreciate it very much. That mat and me have gone a long way together.

After the first cliff, we had to get over to the next cliff. We crawled… crouching down often when the winds get too strong. At this stage, the winds sounds like a huge jet engine, howling, whining and screaming. Here we pause for a moment as we caught a glimpse of Adam’s body, he lay in a crevasse near these cliffs. We said goodbye to our friend and continued. I understand that 2 climbers are still up at this altitude trying to bring Adam’s body down. It will be difficult. We reached Camp 1 after 3 to 4 hours of climbing. It was a climb of an epic proportions.

From Camp 1, we dragged ourselves down to Advance BaseCamp, reaching it at about 6pm our time. We have been on our feet for almost 10 hours. In this journey, I had only a few biscuits and water. Reaching ABC, we stopped at the kitchen tent and rested. Drinking warm water and tea. Looking back up to Cho Oyu, MB said, “Tough route.” We climbed on the mountain’s terms, giving 100% of our energy and efforts. It has challenged us to the core.

Amazingly, both MB and me are healthy. Have a bit of a dry cough right now. My fingers were nipped during the climb down the cliffs. Feeling is returning to all my digits now. Resting now, time for a bit more tea…

19 May, 2002 Camp 3 (7,350m)

(16:16hrs Singapore)
Have just returned to Camp 3 from our summit attempt. It has been a tough, tough day. We reached 7,800m at the Summit Rock before turning around, about 400 vertical meters away from the summit.

We started climbing at 4am this morning. We had to break trail as there were no one in front of us. Quiet on the mountain. Probably because winds are expected to pick up tomorrow to levels between 40 to 75 knots, very strong gale force winds, very dangerous to be on the mountain. The going was not easy. Winds picked up as we begin climbing. We began with a snow covered slope. This lead us to a vertical ice cliff of about 50m high. It was very difficult climbing up this wall. And getting over this cliff took a considerable amount of energy. It was exhausting. Once over, we continued climbing up a snow covered slope. The slope has an inclination of about 50 degrees. At this altitude, I had to rest and suck air every 6 to 10 steps, the thin cold air burns. After the exertion at the cliff, my legs felt like lead. The slope continues and we started to encounter a lot of broken snow. This is soft snow sitting on top of loose rock. Very wobbly and difficult for me with my bad ankle. After quite a while of this, the snow thickens. Then it was soft snow until the Summit Rock at 7,800m. It took us 5 hours to get to this spot. To continue to the summit would take another few more hours, leaving us with no time to turn around safely. We decided then to give the summit a miss. We have pushed to our max, but Cho Oyu has eluded us.

This route to the summit is much tougher than the one I took in 1997. The cliff beyond Camp 3 took a lot of energy to climb. It has exhausted me. One consolation is that I have surpassed my personal limits again in this climb, going up to 7,800m without bottled oxygen.

Resting for a short while here at Camp 3 before going down to Camp 2 for the night. I feel very, very drained. Tired. Thirsty, very dehydrated. We are boiling water before moving on to Camp 2. The 2 months of unrelenting effort has also taken quite a bit out of me. Feeling really mortal… our main job now is to get off the mountain safely. Winds are picking up…

18 May, 2002 Camp 2 (6,925m)

(12:35hrs Singapore)
Woke up this morning to a white-out on Cho Oyu. Strong gusty winds and loads of snow greeted me and the other climbers in Camp 2. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to dig a cave and hibernate until the sun comes up again. Stuck my head outside the tent just a few moments ago, can’t see very far. At most, 100m. A white-out on the mountain can be very dangerous, a climber can walk off a cliff or into a wall of ice, or worse, step on a much larger climber with your crampon-ed boot.

Climbers are sitting in their tents waiting for better weather conditions. It doesn’t look good. Any attempt up to Camp 3 would be difficult and arduous.

Camp 3 (7,350m)

(18:20hrs Singapore)
Guess what… I’m at Camp 3!!!
MB and me decided to make an attempt this morning. Got bored sitting around in our tent. We started climbing at 11:30hrs our time. Conditions were not good. Thick soft snow (the kind that you can make snow angels with). We had to break trail up to Camp 3. Breaking trail means that there is no trodden path for us to follow. The wind and the snow has wiped everything out. It feels like we were climbing an untouched mountain. As we moved off, the weather remains “crappy”, we were blasted often by wind and snow.

The route we took today was different from the one I climbed in 1997, this route is more direct, passing some pretty deep crevasses and steep climbs. The amazing thing was that in 1997, I took 5hrs 30mins to get to Camp 3, and in good weather… blue skies and sunshine. Today, it took us 3hrs and 30mins in bad weather and me with a bad ankle. Hmmm, maybe its the “crappy” weather or bad ankle.

We will make a summit attempt tomorrow, at dawn. The weather is not with us, it is likely to remain “crappy” and mushy. It will be a difficult climb.

17 May, 2002 Camp 2 (6,925m)

(17:50hrs Singapore)
Reached Camp 2 after 5 hrs 30 mins of hard climbing. We are sharing facilities of another expedition here… they have been summitting over the last few days, and they have left a bag of extra food for us!! MB is going through it… hee hee hee, it’s like Christmas. Only problem is that these items are labeled in Japanese. Guess we just gotta try it out and hope that we don’t end up eating wasabi.

The climb up the 2 ice cliffs was very tough. With the changing weather conditions and temperatures fluctuating, the ice looked more cracked than usual. Climbing an ice cliff is difficult, I have to wear crampons (those spiky things that we attached to the bottom of our boots). If there are no toe-holds (little steps for the toes) I have to kick into the cliff and dig in. With my weak ankle, it is quite a strain climbing. One particularly difficult section, where I had to haul myself over a ledge by pulling on a fixed rope attached to an ice screw… I discovered after climbing that section, the screw has loosen and has worked out halfway from my tugging. It is not fun to fall from an ice cliff up here!! Anyway, I just screwed the screw back in again and moved on. One have to just focus on the job and carry on.

My ankles are aching from the workout today. Other than that, both MB and myself are healthy but hungry, thirsty and tired. One of Jamie’s (the leader of the expedition whom we are sharing facilities with) sherpas helped us out today with carrying about 10kg of our gear. This means that MB and me had a slightly lighter load today. I carried about 10 kg on my back. It is still very hard, the weight seems to grow heavier every step I take.

I can see clouds building up in the horizon. It might snow tonight but the sun’s shinning right now. From here we can see the route to Camp 3. It will be a grunt tomorrow but at least there are no ice cliffs. Water is boiling, tea…

16 May, 2002 Camp 1, 6,300m

(16:10hrs Singapore)
Woke up this morning and decided to take a break. The view here is just too good to waste, fresh air and the quiet sounds of the mountain. Resting in Camp 1 for the day before I make that excruciating climb up those 2 ice walls before reaching Camp 2. This means that MB and me will make a summit attempt on Sunday instead of Saturday.

Camp 1 sits on the edge of a glacier, literally on the edge. There are about a dozen tents, some on ice and the others pitched on scree (loose rocks and pebbles… the kind that can creep into your boots and gives you pain).

One of the tough part about climbing mountains is that after a certain altitude, your mouth cease to taste food well. Everything that I shovel into my mouth starts to taste the same. Oatmeal tastes the same as porridge. Only the really tasty wakes my tastebuds up, fried salted fish and other gamey stuff. I can only dream on… For dinner, I guess that I will tuck into a simple meal of instant noodles boiled with some bits of dried chicken.

Today, has been rather eventful. Spoke to climbers going up and down. The news is that a climber, a friend, has gone missing since yesterday. He was returning from a summit attempt. There was evidence that he was at Camp 2 but there was no sign of him in Camp 1 or even in Advance BaseCamp. Climbers searching the area have found no signs. We are all very concerned. We can only hope as the search continues while there is still light. Dave.

15 May, 2002 Camp 1 (6,300m)

Reached Camp 1 after 6 hours of climbing, walked through a lot of scree slopes and ice. The skies were blue today. Felt good but exhausted. The last time I climbed to this spot, in 1997, I did it with no load. Today, I carried slightly over 15kg of equipment and food. MB is remarkable, he took a load of about 30kg. We are both very tired right now.

Getting a bit of clouds right now. We have been getting bits of snow now and then through the day. Camp 1 sits exposed on a broad ridge. Camp 1 gets a bit of a breeze sometimes. From here to Camp 2, we will follow the ridge. We will have to climb 2 ice cliffs, this is going to be tough, before reaching Camp 3 tomorrow.
Boiling water now.

14 May 2002 Advance BaseCamp

(17:20hrs Singapore)
Pre-summit dispatch
We’re taking a gamble tomorrow by heading for the summit. We have weather predictions showing low winds at the 9,000m mark for the 18th. The schedule will take up up the 5 hour moraine slog to Camp 1 (6,400m) and then over 2 steep ice cliffs to Camp 2 (6,800m). A sustained 45 degree snow slope goes to Camp 3 from whence we will give the top a shot on the 18th May. The summit block is looking pretty formidable with much rock showing through snow.

Radio reports from today’s summit teams at 7,800m this morning had one describe the route a a ‘real bitch’. It’s steep and tough. Weather has been a mix of clouds, swirling snow showers but no strong winds. This seems to be the outlook for the week.

We can continue to stay here for 3-4 days more, hook up with some Dutch and Germans or strike it out while we have this stable sort of weather. This means going it alone for the top. It’ll be exciting with an extremely uncertain outcome

In the midst of all this, please spare a thought for one of the big reasons for ASCENT 8000 – to demonstrate that the disabled are not always unable. 5,000 Singaporeans are wheelchair-bound and thousands more suffering from one or more disabilities. Sports helps to get them out and about. Do spare a minute and go to the links I have to the Sports Council or the Disabled. Volunteer your time, contribute!

Disability sports is usually not a popular issue with the major media who, in Singapore, prefer to focus on exaggerated near-death encounters with crevasses on mountains or bak kwa (honey roasted pork) munching heroes.

It’s hailing graupel and I must be off. Thanks for all the kind emails (hola! Gil) and well wishes.

Audio dispatches only from tomorrow

May 13, 2002 (Monday)

Advanced BaseCamp, 5,600m (16:20hrs Singapore)
Reached camp this morning. It was a great 4 hour walk. The skies are blue, the sun is out… everyone is in a cheerful mood. This is the weather for walking in the Tibetian highlands. Woke up this morning, in Intermediate Camp, and was rewarded by a great view of Cho Oyu. The day started off with blue skies and Cho Oyu looked just spectacular, so beautiful that I almost forgot to breath.

ABC has a bit more creature comforts than Intermediate Camp. Have a better tent (double layered) and the cook tent is a bit larger, one of those orange globe things. All this is because I got to share facilities with one of the expeditions here. Basically, this means that I get to use some of their facilities, while climbing the mountain will be entirely our own effort.

ABC lies in a valley and just south of us stands a 6,000m peak. My tent here sits next to a 45 deg slope that rises to about 1,000m high. Sitting in front of my tent, I spotted a small hare (I think) and lots of tiny ground mice. Plenty of small wild animals. It will be a good idea to keep food well packed. I intend to rest tomorrow before setting up to the higher camps on Wednesday. This will give me some time to do some chores, like washing my socks… and other fragrant items. For the rest of today, I’ll rest, drink tea and eat.
Dave signing off

13 May 2002 Advanced BaseCamp

(20:00hrs Singapore)
It’s sunny here at Cho Oyu ABC. We arrived after a 4 hour hike today and I’m preparing or the summit push on Cho Oyu. It’s taken us 2 nice days of walking to get here and part of me wonders if I’ve missed a good summit window – looking at all the climbers heading up to Camp 3 at 7,400m today.

In any case, I have 11 days here and only need 5 days to make the summit and back. ABC Cho Oyu in is in a moraine valley so getting emails in and out is tough because of the interference with the transmissions caused by the mountains being so close by . But bear with us – some new pictures coming soon I hope!

For my friends at EduQuest involved in the schools programmes, some interesting altitude matters include how water boils at a lower temperature up high so at 7000m+, you can spill boiling water on your hands and not get scalded!.

Another key thing to note is the all -important weather. Every year around this time, the approaching warm monsoon air comes up from the south and west and pushes the unwelcome jet-stream winds ( these go up to 150km/h and stay in the 7000-10000m range ) to the north. So before the onset of the wet and warm monsoon storms on the mountains, there is often a window of opportunity to summit. I’m waiting for it!

Tomorrow is a rest day.

12 May, 2002 Intermediate Camp

Reached Intermediate Camp today. Took me 5hrs 30mins to get here, I was a bit faster then when I first came here 5 years ago… Acclimatisation helps. It was a beautiful day today. Bright blue skies, breathing fresh air. Tomorrow, it will be a shorter trek up to Advanced BaseCamp.

Enroute, I met climbers who have just summitted Cho Oyu. It is encouraging to meet them. I hope for the best on our attempt.

The Intermediate Camp is now situated some distance from the “original” one. The older campsite has became filthy and dirty. A by-product of the abuse heaped on it by the many expeditions that comes this way over the years. Sad.

Both MB and me are in good health, except for my dry cough. I feel a bit tired and worn, guessed that this is what long expeditions can do to a person. On an encouraging note, MB related to me a conversation he had with some sherpas from the other teams. The conversation goes like this…

Sherpa : “eh.. what is your climber carrying?”
MB : “er, the usual. Sleeping bag, boots, crampons, snow shovel, water, food…, maybe 10 to 15 kg.”
Sherpa : “Waa… your climber with bad leg is very strong. He carries more. Our climbers are normal. But we carry everything…”

11 May, 2002 Chinese BaseCamp, Cho Oyu, , 4,900m

It has been a quiet day today. Did managed to get some rest and some hot food. I had Pringles potato chips!! The entire tube. Burp!

Have spent time checking on our gear. They have suffered quite a bit of abuse on Shishapangma. Doing some basic repairs and patching. The weather seems to be easing for the next few days. This will allow me to get up to the higher parts of Cho Oyu with less wind blasting into my face. The snowfall and storms in this area over the last 3 weeks have also resulted in loads of snow on the mountain. The going may be a bit tough at the higher levels. I hear of quite a few camps suffering damage from the storms. I will move off to Intermediate Camp tomorrow.
Water boiling, time for tea!!

10 May, 2002 Chinese BaseCamp, Cho Oyu, 4,900m

Hi there!!
Made it over to the BaseCamp today. Had lunch in Tengri but I didn’t stop for that much awaited bath and rest. Reason being that by getting here a day earlier, I get to prepare for Cho Oyu and also to check out local weather conditions. Besides, I somehow gotten a bit fond of how I look. Took 4 weeks of wear to get this seasoned!!

The Chinese BaseCamp in Cho Oyu remains much as I remembered it since my last climb about 5 years ago. One major difference is the loss of that beautiful green meadow here, what remains is just dust and yak dung. There is also a certain aroma in the air…(and it ain’t me!). Our yaks came in today. They will help us carry our gear up to Advance BaseCamp. The clanging sounds of the yak bells are going on all the time. Kinda of musical.

The meal in Tengri and the warmed air at lower altitudes have helped eased my dry cough which has developed over the last few days. Other than this, MB and myself are healthy and happy. I have stocked up our larder a bit with some large chunks of frozen pork. This will supplement our diet on Cho Oyu. One gets hungry for meat sometimes.

Basically I plan to move off to Intermediate Camp on Sunday, a 6 hour trek. Then on Monday, I will plod on to Advance BaseCamp. This will be a grunt, 6 to 7 hours of trekking. Tomorrow, Saturday (May 11) I plan to rest, do a bit of cleaning and charge up my batteries. Maybe I’ll have that tube of Pringles tomorrow…


9 May, 2002 Chinese BaseCamp Shishipangma
Reached camp after 7 hours of trekking. I was greeted by the 2 Tibetian mastiffs, they have grown!! Almost a third larger after two weeks. I guess they were feeding off the left-overs from the meals served to mountaineers.

Most on our gear came out on yaks. I carried just about 10 kilos of warm clothing and gear. It was a good walk, the terrain goes up and down. It was not all downhill. My ankle is OK, and I didn’t have any trouble in the long walk. Started to get a dry cough because of the dust and dry air. Just have to drink more water. Other than that, MB and me are in good health.

The storms on Shisha have wrecked two tents. This will mean that I will have to keep snug into a much smaller and colder single layer tent (double layer tents for high altitudes helps keep the body heat in). Not very comfortable.

I look forward to tomorrow’s truck ride to Tingri. In Tingri, I can get some simple Chinese style food and what’s more important, my long awaited wash. I have not had a bath since 12 April 2002. I guessed I am a bit on the ripe side now. There is a hot spring in Tingri and I look forward to a good soak and thaw out. It would be good to have a look at my face and other body parts… after weeks of everything covered by a grimy mix of sun block, sweat, bits of food and dust.

From Tingri, I will move on to Cho Oyu. We do not have very much room for bad weather on Cho Oyu. The schedule is tight. Once we get to Cho Oyu, it will be a push to get to the higher camps and prepare for a summit push. We hope that the weather and the mountain will offer us a respite and that opportunity for a good climb.

07 May 2002


Singapore’s first professional mountaineer returned safely to Advance Base Camp at Shishapangma, Tibet without the 8027m summit.

The 6-day summit bid was organised after a spate of extremely unseasoned bad weather and aimed at reaching the top of Tibet’s highest peak on May 6th. The long summit push was preceded by very heavy load carries by Lim and M.B Tamang, his climbing partner.

Three successively higher camps were placed, the last at 7,350m before the summit bid began at 330am May 6th. Weather forecasts had put wind conditions to be moderate. However, after about 200-300 metres of upward progress, sustained stretches of hard ice made further progress too dangerous. While the sections themselves would already been exposed and tricky for an able-bodied alpinist, Lim’s disabled right leg made progress extremely strenuous. With only a shorter length of rope to protect each other over small, steep sections, it would have been too risky and time-consuming to belay each other in turn over the long section of wind-polished ice. Lim turned back at around 7600m.

At the same time the only other summit team, a European team, turned back after one of their members sustained a 200-metre fall higher up. Heavy, localised snowing put at end to the day’s summit attempts. No one summitted that day. It should be noted that these are the first known summit attempts of the season. Lim made an arduous descent back to Intermediate Camp, ending a 15 hour day.

With not much time left, Lim will be leaving advance base camp on May 9th to make his way to Cho Oyu, the second of the two 8000-m peaks on his schedule. He intends to reach Advance Base Camp in under a week and complete the climb in rapid, lightweight style after acclimatising on Shishapangma.

Commenting on the summit week:
“For some time my conversations with God have not been happy ones. For most of the climbing days, we had been beset by awful and unpleasant weather. We never got a break. None of my prayers for a respite seem to be answered. But most recently, I had two replies. In one, he gave me strength in my legs. In the other, on summit day, he gave me wisdom to make the right decision. It wasn’t an easy one, but it was the correct one. Climbing 8000m peaks is , after all, not about summitting, it’s about making the right call. You’re really on the edge of things if you’re tired beyond belief an still have some ways to go to your objective.”

On the next two days”
” Eating fried eggs, resting my aching muscles, packing and mentally psyching up myself for the next climb. I can’t recall any Asian mountaineer, able-bodied or not, attempting three peaks in a single expedition*. It’s going to be tough. This isn’t exactly the kind of adventure where you have relays of porters carrying all your stuff nor is it the kind where you can get airlifts of underwear, food and gear to you. And after the climb, you still have to get your butt off the mountain. No plane can get you off that hill.”

On the news back home:
” I haven’t heard much except that the Budget , GST and CPF changes are big news. I also understand that only the big prestigious expeditions are currently being covered by the major broadsheets. I guess money talks! That being said, I don’t need airdrops, sherpas teams, massive communications hookups etc to show that challenging endeavours with uncertain outcomes still have a place in Singapore adventure. If the newspapers don’t seem to be keen this time, I think they ‘re missing the point of adventure”
* Lim summitted Mera Central Peak ( 6461m ) on April 2nd

6 May, 2002 Intermediate Camp 5,800m

(21:00hrs Singapore)
Hi there!
Got off the mountain. Reached Intermediate Camp about an hour ago. It has been a very tough day. Woke up at 3am for the summit attempt. Have been on the move until about 6:30pm when I reached Intermediate Camp.

The return has been a grunt. MB and myself took all our gear and food off the mountain. We stripped down our camps at Camp 3, 2 and 1. Between the two of us, we carried everything down, including the kitchen stove!!

MB, the strong, has probably reached Advanced BaseCamp. Hot soup and food awaits there. Tonight, I will stay at Intermediate Camp alone, resting. MB will return tomorrow morning and we will carry the remainder of our gear back to ABC.

As I turn back for a look at Shishapangma at about 10am, the mountain has become veiled by another white-out.

Once back at base, I will prepare to move on to the second half of the Ascent8000 challenge, Cho Oyu. I estimate that I should be on the move by the 10 May 2002. If I can get a satellite connection with my powerbook, I will send a detailed report then. My water is boiling… time for hot tea and dinner.

6 May, 2002, The Steep Climb, 7,600m

(10:30hrs Singapore)
We reached 7,600m. It has been very tough so far. The heavy snow and ice that has been pouring down over the last week or so has hardened into compacted ice and snow. We have been struggling up a steep slope, about 50 degrees, when MB and I decided that it would be safer if we turned back. The conditions are really tough and the steep ice-snow sections makes climbing very difficult for me, with my weak ankle.

Have just returned to Camp 3, 7,400m, the climb down was tough. The last few days of hard climbing, little rest, poor appetite and very basic food (had two cheese sticks and half a liter of water last night for dinner) has been quite a toil on me and this has weaken me considerably. We are disappointed but we have given our best effort… and we are still alive.

We will go down to Base Camp after a rest here. Camp 3 is not a place for a picnic even if we can breathe fresh air…

5 May, 2002, Camp 3, 7,400m

(21:00hrs Singapore)
Reached Camp 3 this afternoon. It has been a very tough climb, a struggle. Tougher than my efforts on the North ridge of Everest. I will make a summit attempt tomorrow with MB. We will begin the climb at dawn, at 0300 hrs (Tibet). We will give our best effort.

The climb up from Camp 2 has been difficult. The 300m of fixed ropes has been a help. It was during this section that I had a mild diarrhea attack. For 2 hours, I could think of nothing else but to do a dump (toilet…). But because of the steep slope, there was no place for me to do the necessary. The first flat surface I found, I unshackled from my harness, dropped my pants and had a massive dump!! I guessed, in my own way, I left my mark. Looking back, the pain in the stomach has distracted me much from the struggle up that slope. While this is laughable, diarrhea has always been a major problem for climbers. The altitude and the basic amenities means that the digestion system can sometimes wreck havoc on the climber.

Breathing, sucking, really fresh air outside, a bit thin but fresh… inside, well, that’s another matter. I guess I should have a shower before returning to Singapore. We are sharing tent with the European team who has graciously given us some extra space. This we appreciate.

I am very tired now. Boiling snow… for water. A bit of rest, food and plenty of water now. We leave at dawn.

4 May, 2002 Camp 2, 6,800m

(18:18hrs Singapore)
Reached Camp 2. It’s about 4pm now. Took me 5 hours to climb from Camp 1 to Camp 2. Our tent was under a considerable amount of snow. Spent about 2 hours digging it out but it was badly damaged. However, we managed to salvaged our store of food and gear from our wrecked tent.

Thanks to the generosity and help of the climbers from the European team, we managed to borrow one of their extra 2-man tents. Without this, we would have to turn back to Camp 1. Really appreciate their help!!!

The strain of having to dig out our tent and the pain of discovering its wrecked state have left me totally dehydrated and tired…. and hungry. It’s time for MB and me to start melting snow for water and cooking our dinner.

I hope to climb to Camp 3 tomorrow. For now, it’s rest and water and a bit of food.

3 May, 2002 Camp 1

(15:00hrs Tibet) 6,300m
Reached Camp 1 yesterday afternoon after a long day of plodding. The good news is that my tent’s a bit dented by the storms over the last week but still holding up. Nothing ruptured. Now I hope that our tent at Camp 2 remains intact.

The weather has been fitful, with clouds coming in the afternoon and snow-showers in the late afternoon and evenings. Am concerned about the snow because thick snow at high altitudes makes climbing more difficult. The climb up has hurt the ankle a bit. I am resting here in Camp 1 today, hope this rest will do it some good.

Feeling a bit cold (to be expected at this altitude), but the emails that you have been sending leaves a warm glow inside. Appreciate your notes. Both MB and myself is in good health, eating well. MB has finished eating the goat. He is now eyeing some noodles. Burp!!

We will be moving off to Camp 2 tomorrow. Today, I’ll rest. Zzzzzz

1 May, 2002


Intermediate Camp 5,800m (16:00hrs Singapore)
Reached Intermediate Camp about 1hr 30mins ago. It took me 2hrs and 50mins to reach this camp. Much faster than when I first climbed here with 30kg on my back, then it took me more than 4hrs. A benefit of acclimatisation and a smaller pack today.

Amazingly, my ankle didn’t hurt today. It could be because I have been rubbing vasaline on it, and it finally worked. Climbing a mountain this size can heap a lot of abuse on the body. Even my braces for my ankle, have been showing quite a bit of wear and tear, they now even need tape to keep them together!

The winds are about 25 to 35 km/hr, sunny weather but with clouds moving nearby. A bit of light snow coming down right now…. go away!!!

Now that I have committed to making a summit push, I feel a lot better. A lot of stress has been considering whether I should start earlier or later. Here I am, breathing fresh air with the skies above me. I remain hopeful even though there are loads of fresh snow on the mountain. Thick snow makes the going more difficult, its like trying to walk on the beach with the water reaching up to your knees. It drags you down. I see a few other climbers (from the European team) ahead, they are making slow progress.

I hope that my tents in Camps 1 and 2 remain in decent condition. It will be OK if they stay intact and unruptured, even if buried in snow.

The plan, briefly, is to make for Camp 1 tomorrow. Then a long climb to Camp 2 on Friday. Saturday, I will trudge up to Camp 3. Summit day will be on Sunday if all goes well. Tonight, I will sleep alone at 5,800m. MB will join me tomorrow for the climb up to Camp 1.

For now, it’s lunch. Should I have some peanuts and… I’ll have some Japanese noodles!!

29 April, 2002 Advance BaseCamp

(20:00hrs Singapore)
It has been a miserable day. The wind has been pounding away at my tent. Snow and sand blasting into my face… Heard from some German climbers that over on Cho Oyu, 3 tents have been damaged and another 3 disappeared. Last night, I woke up at about 3am, grab the tent pole and held it. The wind was blasting so strongly that I feared that the tent would collapse. It held.

Had some sherpa stew and Chinese bacon for dinner. Had some dried goat over the last few days. Not much of it left, just a stump… half a shoulder and one hairy leg with the hoof still on. Dried goat tastes very “goaty” or “very mutton”. For a change, I had some excellent South African crocodile pate today, yum yum.

29 Apr 2002 (Monday)

(10:30hrs Singapore)
It’s a white-out at ABC today. We have been having really bad weather over the last 4 days, loads of snow and wind. Woke up today with about a foot of snow in Advance BaseCamp. It’s pretty gloomy. Sitting in our small tent with just one flickering candle and MB, I feel like an early explorer… in the days of Mallory.

The winds and snowfall will mean that we will be climbing up against thick untrampled snow (maybe 2 to 3 feet thick). It is almost like climbing a virgin peak… Two teams are now ready for a summit push, the mixed European team and; MB and me. The other teams on the mountain seems to have bedded down to wait for the weather to ease.

I have planned to start our summit push tomorrow. Praying for good weather right now.

Dried goat (2 to 3 years old!) the main source of our animal protein at Advance BaseCamp. Takes a while to cook till soft.

28 Apr 2002 (Sunday)

Many thanks to all who have sent good karma, Carrie, Mark, Bob, Deb from the SJC ( you know who you are ), my Everest 2001 partner – Gil, Glennys, Steven (oi ! – can’t salsa at 5,600m – too little 02) , Soo leng, the schools, Fatoma, The Mayor (yes!) and all others I regret to have missed out…

The latest MSS weather forecast says the winds will persist till Tuesday at least… we’ll wait and see. Right now we have a respite at ABC after 2 -3 days of bad winds here – worse high up.

Discussions will increase these next 2 days as to how we will mount the season’s first ever summit climb of Shishapangma from this side of the mountain.

Off to some fried rice for lunch……

APRIL 25th 2002

Letter From Tibet – Life on a Big Climb
(Received Sat, 27 Apr 2002)
The full moon is upon us as I sit writing this. I’m also nursing various minor aches and pains from the hard climbing these past 5 days. My ankle tendon bruised has recurred. It hurt all the way back yesterday; those 10 km from Camp 2 (6,800m). We’ve finalised almost all of what we need for the summit push. This foray marks the final preparation for the summit attempt to occur next week, weather permitting.

It feels good to be back here in the relative warmth and sun of Advance BaseCamp (5,600m), feeling acclimated and ready for the summit push. I thank all of you for your kind emails and support though the contents of some of these have had to be relayed to me previously by audio dispatch only since data reception here has been patchy.

I’m glad of the great website hit count and the kind words from all, especially since the Mera Peak (6,476m) summit success of April 2. I can only hope that the Singapore /local media will be keen on doing a little more (hello? hello?) since they opted out on that piece of news. They could help a little bit more on letting people at home realise that sports is for everybody and not just for those with 2 good legs/ arms etc.

For most of the past week, MB Tamang and I have made a major load carry to the upper reaches of Shishapangma and have returned to Advance BaseCamp safely. It was immensely physical and these past days saw me carrying the heaviest loads I have ever done on a big peak (pre or post Guillain-Barre Syndrome). MB has been shouldering even more and is a tower of strength.

Our plan involved just one carry up before the summit push , and without sherpa teams to relay gear ahead of us (like for every other team on the mountain), it meant large loads (15kgs +). To be honest, apart from the sherpas working this big hill, I have yet to see any other climber carrying loads our size. What were in them? Sleeping bags, down suits, a stove, food, warm clothing, tents, snow shovel, marker wands – the list does go on!

We started by heading to Depot or Intermediate Camp at 5,800m, and then a huge slog up to Camp 1 (6,300m) over glaciated and crevassed terrain. Each afternoon a nasty wind would kick up and blast snow in our faces for 2 – 3 hours continuously, bringing temperatures to sub zero. I’ve never worked in such wretched conditions ever. The climb up to Camp 2 (6,800m)was equally chilling and demoralising. From here you could see the main summit ridge of the mountain. A fun point was making probably one of the highest phonecalls ever by a Singaporean (from 6,800m+)with the ACeS satphone to George, my webmaster.

Emails, I get regular questions about life on the big hill. It’s very basic, really. You wake up, eat a breakfast of about half a mug of oats, a mug of hot tea. The water is boiled up from melting snow. This takes a while – about 30 mins for each litre. You try to climb through the day on 1 –2 energy gels or bars and a litre of water. When conditions are nasty and freezing, you don’t drink too much because the effort of unclipping and fiddling around with your heavy pack on a 40 degree snow slope is too difficult. Those hydration pack things with a tube to suck from? Nope, the mouth pieces freeze up. You go by for most of a 5 – 7 hour day on a litre of water. Your mouth gets dry and yucky and your nose is streaming all the time from the irritating dry air. You just blow your nose and use your sleeve to wipe off the mess . It freezes almost instantly anyway. The exertion of climbing at altitude, especially with 15 -20kgs is akin to running a 200-metre sprint several hundred times. Because for each 25 second spurt of exertion, you have to pant for breath for a while. Then you do it again – continuously for those 5 – 7 hours.

When you get to your campsite, you have to dig out a patch of snow and fix up the tent. If the wind is freezing your fingers off, you just suffer a little more . Dinner is more dried stuff like freeze dried rice with some dried meat, some soup.

After a couple of weeks of no bathing and eating food that comes out of a plastic bag, you’re grateful to get back to Advance BaseCamp. Gyanu, my cook, dished out a few pancakes this morning plus 2 fried eggs – culinary heaven. I may even wash my hair and have a shave – something I haven’t done since leaving Kathmandu on April 12.

More news tomorrow I hope. Have to go ice my ankle as well.

25 Apr 2002, Advance BaseCamp

(20:00 hrs Singapore)
Got down from Camp 2 (6,800m) in a long 7 hour climb across a glacial terrain yesterday. Parts of which slopes to about 45degrees. Shishapangma is clean and much less trampled upon. There are less climbers on this mountain than on Mt Everest. Last week, I have seen about 15 climbers and this has grown to about 30 this week. Climbers from Finland, Spain, Italy and Singaporeans!!

I am still very tired but the rest at ABC is great. Chewed a bit of bak kwa (dried pork) as a reward for the climb. My right ankle hurts a bit as I climbed down yesterday. Experiencing some pain there, I hope the rest over the next few days will do it some good. It’s snowing right now, and the camp quiets down.

I had a wash today, my first time since April 12, 2002!! Felt nice and clean. Both MB and myself are in good health, just a bit tired.

Will be sending detailed despatch once the skies clear.

23 Apr 2002 Camp 2 at 6,800m

(19:15 hrs Singapore)
Hola! This is my highest sat-comms phone call ever, a personal first. I have reached Camp 2 at 6,800m. It was a real grunt climbing to this camp. It is a physically tough terrain, demanding!! I am exhausted… felt like I have been carrying everything but the kitchen stove on my back. I think I am carrying more than any other climber on this mountain, except MB of course, and sherpas with the other teams. MB is strong!!, he is grinning right now, hee hee. The load that MB and I have been carrying is part of our preparation for our summit attempt. We carried food, fuel, snow shovel, sleeping bags, warm clothes… and storing them here in Camp 2.

The climb to Camp 2 has been demanding because of the rough terrain and the altitude (low oxygen levels). The route has no fixed lines (ropes) except for a short section of about 35 meters. This means that I have to be extra careful. My ankle got a bit sore today because of the additional stress that I have to put on it. There is not much of a trail up to Camp 2 because the winds and snow wipes virtually any track out within 30 minutes. This means that I have been clomping through ankle deep snow and ice to reach Camp 2. The weather has been a bit windy, very cold with “snow” showers in the afternoons.

MB and myself will be spending the night in Camp 2. Sleeping at this high altitude is cold and the thin air will not help to give us a good rest, but the value is that it continues to make our bodies acclimatise to the thin air. This is part of our preparation for our summit attempt.

We will go down tomorrow and will rest in Advance BaseCamp for a few days before returning to the thin air. Gotta go, water is boiling and it’s time for tea!!

22 Apr 2002 Camp 1, 6,300m

(14:00hrs Singapore)
On Sunday, 21 Apr, I reached Camp 1, 6,300m, from Intermediate Camp, 5,700m. A hard day climbing. Distances on a mountain always look deceiving. While it is just 500 vertical meters, it took MB and me the whole morning to reach this altitude, about 4 to 5 hours of plodding. Again, the load on my back remains the same, heavy. One consolation that I have at this altitude is that I have started using my heavier Millett Everest boots, with it’s additional support, I am trying to walk without the ankle brace. This is a relief.
The weather has been rough, we get a few good hours of sun in the morning before the clouds move in and the wind picks up. Had a snow storm yesterday. Wind and ice and snow was blasting everything. Almost like being sand-blasted, maybe some of the rough edges and pores on my face might have been smoothen out a bit…

I am resting today here at Camp 1, after yesterday’s effort. It’s pretty quiet here, I am the only person in Camp 1. MB has gone down for additional supplies and food. Climbers from the other teams have gone up to the higher camps. Most of the time, all I hear is the sound of my breathing and the wind.

Have been chewing on my dried rations for food. I had oats porridge and raisins for dinner last night. Right now I am going to feast on 2 cereal bars and a couple of cheese wedges for lunch…. Burp!

If the weather holds up, we will try for Camp 2 tomorrow.

Tiny flag of Canberra Primary School, a participant of the MOE’s EDUQYEST programme. They asked me to bring it up. It’s now adorning my ABC tent!!

20 Apr 2002 (Saturday)

Intermediate Camp 5,800m
It was a long grunt (walk) up to this camp, 4 hours from Advance BaseCamp. I have never carried a heavier load up to a higher altitude than today, I think I have about 30kg of food and fuel on my back. (I feel like a yak!) If anything, this is a personal first! Reached camp at about 12:30pm (Nepal time), in time for lunch… which I have to cook myself. Alpine style!

In a regular sherpa supported expedition, sherpas help in bringing much of the food, fuel and equipment up to the higher camps. This allows the climber to just climb, rest at established camps and not worry about the basic necessities. However, in this expedition, climbing alpine style, there is just MB and myself, carrying everything we need on our own backs.

Intermediate Camp is located on a moriane, a glacier deposit of eroded rock. It is a beautiful site. The deep blue skies and Shisha’s peak stands in front of me. The air so clear that I could almost reach my hand out and touch the peak in the distance… mumble mumble. A spectacular view.
From where I stand, I can see 3 sherpas moving towards Camp 1. There are 5 tents at Camp 1.

I will spend the night here alone. MB has gone down to ABC, I have a suspicious feeling that he finds my cooking rather lacking… hmm… MB will return tomorrow and we will trudge on to Camp 1.

19 Apr 2002 (Friday)

Advance BaseCamp
Sunny here but wind picking up as per Met Service of Singapore’s forecasts. Still a bit crispy but less cold than yesterday. Today, we’ll be packing 10 days of food and climbing gear for tomorrow’ s push up the big hill. The first camp, Intermediate Camp, at 5,800m is about four hours away (lots of ups and downs).

Camp 1, on ice, will be another 4 – 5 hours from Intermediate Camp, up to 6,400m+. From there, we’ll see if we can get higher and also sleep higher. From tomorrow, dispatches will be via audio phone only – so far the ACeS SATCOM equipment has been working in excellent form.

My tent at ABC- Shisha covered in clouds with high winds

18 Apr 2002

Advance BaseCamp 5,600m
pei-tan and bak kwa
This email is brought to you by the world’s smallest and lightest satellite telephone courtesy of Asian Cellular Satellite (ACeS).The weather’s turned somewhat. Very windy last night and this morning. A bitterly cold breeze is cutting through basecamp. The setting is spectacular with full-on views of Shishapangma. What happens now is that we rest here for 2 days and then do a big push; establishing intermediate camp at 5,800m, Camp 1 at 6,400m and then make a push to Camp 2 at 6,800m in one single outing taking six days. We’ll try sleeping as much as possible at C1; building on the great acclimatisation we already have.

18 Apr 2002, Middle finger recovering from Mera climb frostnip. Note the old blistered skin sloughing off.

Me at ABC. The fancy tent at the back is of the other Singapore Shisha team. Shooting video on canon MV vidcam.

It’s really quiet here. The International European team of 6-7 climbers and 2 sherpas are returning from C1 today. They are part of the Amical Alpin group, a commercial operation. The three Singapore climbers from the other Shisha team left today for a 10 day push to Camp 2 . Their sherpas are working with the Amical ones to fix some rope up higher.

Conditions up high are windy and slopes loaded with snow. It will take a while to clear.

So at the moment there are about 12 climbers based here. A large Austrian group of 14 are due in a few days. By comparison, I hear there are about 300 on Everest’s north side and about 150 on the south side of Everest. So it’s really quiet here.

All well here and all the ASCENT 8000 team in good health. The ankle tendon pressure bruise is much better but we’ll see once I don my big climbing boots. An interesting dry blister on my left middle finger is slowly sloughing off – the result of some frostnip from the Mera summit day.

Today, I’ll be fixing my busted ankle brace with some chicken coop wire and duct tape. As a small celebration, we ate some bak kwa for breakfast (honey roasted pork from Singapore) and some preserved eggs (” pei tan “).

Email contact remains erratic but voice updates will continue if data reception is bad. My Apple Macintosh Powerbook G3 is holding up well though the harddisk is beginning to squeal and whine. The thinner air here provides a lesser cushion for the spinning forces of the harddisk. In any case, at 5,600m, it’s performing way beyond the maunfacturer’s specs.

Special greetings to all at Woodlands, Marsiling and Canberra schools. Yesterday, I sent a special answer list to some questions related to their projects under the Ministry of Education’s EduQuest programme. And for those interested – yes some interesting wildlife here. In the past week, I’ve seen wild mules roaming the Tibetan plains, game hens and (yesterday) a snow

17 Apr 2002

Wed (Advance BaseCamp)
A major slog today to get to Advance Base camp (5600m) from the Chinese Basecamp (5,000m). Starting on the west side of a river, the route snaked round with spectacular views of Shisha. Nine hours later and a rather tired Dave and Gyanu reached ABC. The other Singapore team there gave me a warm welcome. They’ve been placing a couple of camps and gear so far.. They made the ABC hike up over 2 days (I wish I could have done the same!),

Right now very cold and windy . Will sleep well tonight…zzzzz

16 Apr 2002, BaseCamp Shishapangma

(5:30pm Singapore)
Life in Basecamp is quiet. We are preparing to go up to Advance Basecamp tomorrow. Right now I am sitting on a small hill about a 100m above Basecamp. I have been having some sat-comms problems. Can’t send or retrieve emails. That is why I am sitting on top of this hill, hoping that I will get a better reception, but no luck so far. Am relying on making verbal reports right now.

We have blue skies and great weather here in Shishapangma. The mountain looks fantastic. Windy all the time and very, very cold in the evenings. It can get a bit chilly in the day too, if you are sitting on top of a hill and trying to work with your sat-comms.

Climbing without our own support team means that we get the bare necessities. Meals consists of the usual trekking food, lots of pasta, rice with dhalbat and spam. I try not to think of mee goreng and satay and prawn noodles and laksa and chicken rice and… sniff.

Tomorrow’s trek to Advance Basecamp will mean 20 km of glaciers, rivers and scree (loose gravel). We hope to do this in 8 hours.

Dispatch April 15th Monday (received 18/04/2002)

In Nyalam, I met Nima, a young, intelligent Tibetan. A a young boy, his parents smuggled him to India for his education in Karnataka. 16 years later, he returned to meet his aging parents. He had not seen them for 16 years. However, shortly afterwards, he was arrested and jailed by the police for entering Tibet without valid papers (of any kind). Nima is now in the process of acquiring Chinese/Tibetan citizenship and is lucky to have a job at a local lodging house. Tibetans often remain stateless refugees even in their own land, a by-product of China’s policy towards Tibet. One can only hope things will get better for this mountain kingdom soon.

I arrived in basecamp at 1130am today (Nepal time). BC is a sad and dusty place, flanked by stunning peaks and a blue lake. High cirrus clouds over Shisha suggest bad weather is on it way. There are 2 large tents manned by Tibetan officials.

Because Gyanu, our cook, hasn’t acclimatised yet, we will spend 2 days here at 5000m before taking the 20 km hike to the ‘real’ basecamp ( Advance Basecamp at 5600m ) from which we will begin climbing the peak. My tendon/ankle bruise is still hurting and I hope it will get better enough for me to make the hike up. A pleasant distraction is 2 cute Tibetan mastiff puppies in the BC area. It’s a joy to see them playing and romping about the dustpiles of basecamp. Pictures later!

Pic today: Me trekking to Tangnag (4,300m).
Background: Thamserkku (6,700m), left and Kang Taiga (c. 6,700m), right

15 Apr 2002 (Mon) BaseCamp Shishapangma

(5:45pm Singapore)
Cough! Cough! Reached Basecamp today at about 11:30am. We are at about 5,000m. Had lunch, tea and now we are looking forward to a good dinner, growl. We are both in good health. Except for my ankle, which is giving me a bit of pain, I feel good. Spent most of the afternoon getting comfortable and writing stuff.

We will rest here for another day before setting off for advance basecamp.

14 Apr 2002 (Sun) Sunny Nyalam

Arrived in Nyalam today ( 3400m ) after an uneventful journey. Met Russell Brice en route – he’s got a goup again on Everest Rongbuk this season. Appears to be a busy season after all. 14 Austrians are due t arrive at Shishapangma basecamp this week. Looks like I’ll have plenty off company on the hill after all.

More from Basecap when I get there tomorrow.


11 Apr 2002 Despatch from Kathmandu

Shops close earlier, the streets less busy – all signs of a battered tourist economy here in Kathmandu. I have another day of rest before heading to Tibet on Sat, April 13th. So far, it’s been busy trying to solve a SATCOMs problem – hence no pictures from the Mera climb yet – many apologies.

On a positive side, I’m packing in the calories to get back some of the weight lost from the Mera trip, burp… hic. MB Tamang and I are feeling very acclimatised from the climb – a good sign

It’s sunny, nice, and life goes on as usual. I’d like to say the same for mid-west Nepal where I climbed in 1996 but can’t. Juphal, a small regional airport had it’s control tower taken out by the Maoists as has several other key grass airstrips in that region. One can only hope they see that they can never win and come to the negotation tables.

I have numb fingertips from the frostnip from the Mera climb and a sore ankle still from the pressure bruising. Some anti-inflammatories seem to be helping the latter. As promised, the Mera account will be up soon, an d maybe a few pictures.

Dave signing off in Kathmandu

Ascents of two 8000m peaks in 2002 by disabled Singaporean mountaineer David Lim

Expeditions and climbs by David Lim and friends


Queenstown, New Zealand,Aug 6th

David’s latest speaking engagement to a multinational in New Zealand – continuing to inspire and energise corporations. Contact him via Everest Motivation Team for a presentation.



Photo: Otago Daily Times feature story Aug 8

Singapore July / August:
David’s hectic speaking schedule included involvement with the Mnistry of Education’s EduQuest programme – using technology and the outdoors as a living classroom, ASCENT 8000 brought new insights to hundreds of schoolchildren in the Northwest region of Singapore.

Singapore – 18 July:
David will be the guest on 93.8FM Newsradio channel’s ” The Living Room” chat show. Be ready to tune-in or phone-in your questions, 1030am – 12 noon, July 18th, Thursday.

Singapore – 12 June:
It’s been 2 weeks since my return. A superb end to this expedition was the meeting of many many old friends in Kathmanduin the evenings; catching up on stories and our lives. Pictured above are a few of them, old and new friends. L to R: Yuri Ermachek, Alexei Bolotov, myself, Gavin Bate and Alexei Rospopov.

An X-ray recently suggests I may have been climbing Shishapangma with a stress fracture in my right ankle sustained on Mera Peak – hence the awful pain. Until the next climb!


Mera Peak is located at the head of the quiet and remote Hinku valley, an area of the Mt Everest region rarely frequented by trekkers or visitors. Lim, Singapore’s first professional mountaineer, and his Nepali partner MB Tamang did not have the usual kitchen crew that all teams use in the Hinku. They travelled into Mera basecamp with just two porters.




Donkey’s Ears (c.3900m) on western summit plateau of Mt Kinabalu. Easy access, thin air, great views and multi-pitch climbs from your tent or hut. KK is located in the East Malaysia state of Sabah. A popular training ground for David. ’95 pic.




ASCENT 8000 ARCHIVED DISPATCHES ( 2002 Expeditions ):

Shishapangma (8,012m)

6 May, David and MB attempted to summit Shishapangma. They reached 7,600m before they had to turn back due to dangerous ice conditions. ARCHIVED REPORTS

Cho Oyu (8,201m)

From Advance BaseCamp, a 5 hour moraine slog to Camp 1 (6,400m) and then over 2 steep ice cliffs to Camp 2 (6,800m). A sustained 45 degree snow slope goes to Camp 3 from whence we will give the top a shot on the 18th May. ARCHIVED REPORTS

Mera Peak (6,476m)

On April 2nd, partially disabled Singaporean mountaineer David Lim summitted Mera CentralPeak (6,460m+) with MB Tamang. Crossing the 5000-metres Zatrwa La pass, David and MB will trace the traditional route east to Mera for a lightweight ascent. ARCHIVED REPORTS