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Where would be without our supporters who believe in this expedition and its aims?

We would like to thank, wholeheartedly, the following organisations:

The Singapore Sports Council’s Sports Partnership Promotion Programme, leading the way in supporting non-medal type sports. Also, longstanding support from NTUC Income, a market leader in insurance products.

Other valued support comes from Ad Idem Productions ( web maintenance ) and the Singapore Mountaineering Federation ( endorsement support ) as well as the Embassy of Mexico for their contacts with Mexican organisations. Many thanks as well for the generous help by Ruder Finn Asia, a leading public relations firm.

David Lim motivating 1000’s of students in four different schools around Singapore and making them part of the fundraising effort for the Society for the Physically Disabled

El Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltepetl) is the third highest mountain in North America. The Citlaltepetl, or Pico de Orizaba, is the highest stratovolcano in Mexico with an elevation of around 5700m. Some sources say 5610m, 5750m and so on. It is located at the eastern end of the Mexican Volcanic Belt. It forms a steep cone which is covered by lava flows and ash last erupting in 1566 and 1687. Cities and towns around the volcano have an approximate population of 500,000 people. The combined chararcteristics of being a large volcanic edifice with steep slopes, historic activity, and dense nearby population are favourable to induce several kinds of volcanic hazardous processes, especially gravity driven events such as lahar or even debris avalanches.

Stratovolcanoes are easily distinguished from their less lethal shield volcanoes which have dangerous but often slow-moving lava flows and the occasional lava bombs. Stratovolacnoes produce incredibly fast pyroclastic flows where a combination of scorching hot gases, ash and debris can cover or demolish a town in minutes; travelling at speeds in excess of 100 km/h.

When the Spanish invaded the Americas in the 16th century, they crossed the high pass which divides Orizaba with its more active neigbouring volcano, Popocateptl. Popo was climbed by the Spanish in 1521, an amazing feat and possibly evenearlier by the Aztecs.

This traditional story is well known throughout the Puebla regions and is quite famous throughout all of Mexico. As the legend goes, while Popo, the Smoking Warrior was at war the emperor’s beautiful daughter, Izta, died of heartache. When he returned and learned of her death he built two mountains. On one he laid her body and on the other he stood holding a funeral torch. Some days it still appears as if Izta is stretched on her back while the steam of Popo watches over her. Parts of the mountain are still referred to as parts of a woman’s body and route names are baased on these eg the ” Knees Route “. The true summit of Izta is on El Pecho ( the Breasts ). Popo has been smoking and rumbling since late 1994 and all climbing activityon it is now banned.

The Singapore team will attempt both Iztaccihuatl and Orizaba. While Orizaba is higher, Izta presents more interesting routefinding challenges on the Arista del Sol route. On Orizaba, the team will attempt the Jamapa Glacier route ( see below marked in red ). If access to Izta is restricted, the team will acclimatise on La Malinche ( 4460m ). The idea is to keep the expedition flexible!

The Jamapa Glacier on the northern flanks of Orizaba. The team will place a high camp at the snout of the glacier around 4900m and make a summit push from there to the Aguja de Hielo ( Ice Needle ) a prominent feature on the crater rim. Then they hope to traverse to the true summit of Orizaba at 5700m.

Possible schedule of the team ( Feb 25 – Mar 14 ). Altitudes are estimates:
Feb 25: depart Singapore for Mexico via Los Angeles, USA

Feb 26: Arrive Mexico City, local bus to Puebla ( 2000m+ altitude ). then to the La Malinche area ( 3000m )

Feb 27: Accclimatise

Feb 28: Make ascent of La Malinche ( 4460m )

Mar 1: Return to Puebla, vehicle to La Hoya ( 3900m ) for Iztaccihuatl ( 5280m )

Mar 2: Hike up to summit camp or the Refugio de Los Grupos Cien ( 4500m )

Mar 3: Summit climb on ” Izta”, return to La Hoya/Puebla

Mar 4: Puebla and drive to Tlachichuca

Mar 5: vehicle ( 4WD ) to end of road head to Orizaba – Piedra Grande ( 4500m )

Mar 6: Acclimatise, possible carry of equipment to high camp at 4900m

Mar 7: Acclimatise/Spare day

Mar 8: Summit attempt on El Pico de Orizaba ( 5700m )

Mar 9: spare day in case of bad weather

Mar 10: Return to Mexico City

Mar 11: Mexico City

Mar 12 -1 4 return flights to Singapore

Mountaineers David Lim and Wong Ting Sern, both partially disabled, will attempt the ascent of Mexico’s highest mountain El Pico de Orizaba ( 5,700m ) in the first week of March 2003. Orizaba is also the 3rd highest summit in all of North America and is a dormant, ice-capped volcano. The team will encounter hazards which include strong winds, climbing on sheets of steep ice and high altitude.

The expedition is called the ” Mountain of the Star Expedition”; after one of Orizaba’s other names

They will not be using any external assistance such as professional guides, porters, air – drops or such support in their quest; making the ascent a first of its kind by disabled Asian mountaineers.

Typically, mountaineering ascents by any climbers with disabilities are carried out with significant support from able-bodied partners and guides. As a demonstration that disabilities should not hold people back, Lim and Wong, will attempt the climbs relying purely on themselves and no others.

For Ting Sern, he has to cope with balancing issues as well as deafness from cerebral palsy. David will be meeting the challenge of climbing with partial disabilities in both legs including a non-functional right ankle/foot. He wears a steel and plastic leg brace for support. He also sports permanent weaknesses in both hands. Some of these disadvantage can be dealt with by modified climbing equipment such as larger zipper tabs, ski-poles which incorporate an ice-axe head and so on. However, 90% of the equipment used will be just as any used by other mountaineers.

The climb will help the Society for the Physically Disabled ( SPD ) raise $100,000 to purchase a new van. This new van will be a boost to SPD’s daily commitment to ferry their disabled beneficiaries to and from their premises for work, rehabilitation or other purposes. The SPD is a registered Singapore charity.

Four Singapore schools, CHIJ Kellock, Sengkang Secondary School, Henry Park primary School and Marsiling Secondary will be assisting in the fundraising for this van. The expedition team will be providing presentations and satellite communications-based dispatches to encourage the participating students as well as providing information for social studies or other educational programmes. It is hoped that a greater awareness of disability needs cab be achieved.

ALL monies raised go directly to the SPD.

In 2000, David Lim and Wilfred Tok’s successful expedition to climb the highest summit in the Americas ( Aconcagua, 6962m ) succeeded in raising $100,000 for the SPD.

Donors or anyone interested in helping the SPD achieve this goal can contact:…
Ms Helen Tay
Manager, Fundraising and Communications

Society for the Physically Disabled

Tel: 65-6236 6370

David Lim, 38:

Owns a business specialising in leadership and motivational seminars.

David suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome ( GBS ) in 1998 and is now partially disabled in his left hand and both legs. His right leg below the knee is non-functional. Singapore’s most prolific mountaineer with climbing experience on steep ice, alpine routes, big wall and expeditionary climbs. Amongst his 40 alpine ascents and climbs worldwide are

Everest 1998 – Leader, 1st Singapore expedition, Southeast Ridge
Everest 2001 – Leader, Singapore-Latin American expedition, North Ridge

David has summitted on many major expeditions, some of which were:

Aconcagua-,6962m, 2000. 1st all-Singapore ascent of highest peak of the Americas,
Dhaulagiri VII, 7246m, 1996. 1st 7000m summitted by a Singapore team
Cho Oyu, 8201m, 1997. 1st 8000m peak summitted by a Singapore team

David also currently runs the Central Singapore CDC Youth Adventure Programme, From 1999 – 2000, he administered the CLIMB 2000 national mountaineering programme.

He is Singapore’s first professional mountaineer.

Wong Ting Sern, 44
Works as a technical manager in an airline company. Ting Sern is partially disabled from infant cerebral palsy and affected by loss of hearing, a speech impediment and balance problems. Despite his serious physical shortcomings, Mr Wong’s climbs have included:

Mount McKinley, 6194m, 1982. USA. First Singapore ascent of North America’s highest peak
Mount Foraker 1982 Infinite Spur, a technical route on a challenging Alaskan peak ( USA ),
Naya Kanga, 5846m, 1995. Langtang region, Nepal
Khatung Kang, 6400m, 1996. An expedition peak in central-west Nepal
Cholatse, 6443m, 1998. A difficult, technical peak in the Everest region, Nepal
Everest 2001 – technical officer of the Singapore-Latin American Everest expedition. Ting Sern integrated a satellite communication solution for the team and helped maintain it and sent regular online dispatches during the expedition.

In Aid of the Society for the Physically Disabled

An all-disabled mountaineers’ ascent of Pico de Orizaba, 5700m, also known as the Mountain of the Star – Mexico’s highest peak and North America’s 3rd highest mountain

Summitting is only a bonus. It’s about giving your best. It’s about pushing the envelope. The message from these climbs is that sport is for everyone; even for those with a physical disability…
David Lim



Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan Dave, after reaching the summit of Orizaba – 8 March 2003

the shadow of El Pico de Orizaba, from the near the summit

Mexico’s Other Wonders, Tue, 11 Mar 2003 21:21

A trip to any country just to climb it’s mountains would expose us as philistines.As for Mexico, we’ve enjoyed the great hospitality of the people here, the varied and wonderful food. A small part of Mexico also knows about Singapore too and summitting Orizaba is one more small step in telling the climbing world about who we are and where we live.

Now we’re wrapping up the trip with a chance to experience some of this great country’s history and culture; beginning with the pre-Aztec pyramids and city of Teotihuacan. Established in 400BC, the height of one of the most advanced ancient cultures saw the construction of the enormous pyramids of the Moon and Sun-largely for religious reasons (unlike the funerary pyramids of Egypt ). Despite aching legs from last weekend’s climbs on Orizaba, we toiled up the comparatively mild 60m to the pyramid’s top. We finally got Ting Sern on top of something! 😉

Many thanks for all your email, esp. from CHIJ Kellock and Seng Kang Secondary Schools.Your pennants and caps were carried to the summit of Orizaba,as was the Henry Park flag. We’ll be bringing back some history and stories about the climb and this fascinating country.

Thanks to our supporters, SSC,NTUC Income and Singapore Pools. And thanks to Ad Idem for updating the website.
TS and I shall be back on Mar 14 on different flights (TS on SQ29, around 1130am from Los Angeles and me at abt 230 pm on Malaysia Airlines on MH691 via Kuala Lumpur).

Thanks for surfing in…
Hasta luego,

Cactus Delights, Tue, 11 Mar 2003 07:51

One of the great moments of any climbing expedition is to be able to impress on your host country something that is quintessentially Singaporean.

Being the first Singaporean expedition to Mexico, it’s been interesting to share with them things Singaporean. Our excellent hotel owner and host in Tlachichuca, Senor Gerardo Claudio and his wife, Lourdes, treated us to a meal of broiled beef and seasoned ‘nopales’, a succulent cactus plant.It’s eaten minus the spines, of course and that explains the many fields of cacti we’ve seen.Nopales tastes like artichoke hearts. In return our Mexican friends tried beef ‘bak kwa’ and Chinese sesame seed dessert. The latter looks a bit like used motor oil but thankfully tastes better and Gerardo and us had a good laugh when other family members approached the dark mess with more caution.

On the summit of Las Rodillas on Izta, Luiz, Arturo and Betonshared a drop of tequila and an orange with me.

For a while, you aren’t mountaineers or disabled folks or tourists but friends.This is what it’s all about. Thank you for the memories: recuerdos de los Izta y Orizaba

Dave and TS

Sunrise on Mexico’s Summit, Sun, 9 Mar 2003 10:33

At the summit of Orizaba. The Society for the Physically Disabled's flag flying high!

Following Ting Sern’s gallant attempt to reach highcamp at 5,100m (reaching 5,000m), David made an attempt on the summit today (Mar 8) with Luis, a Mexican climber. Starting at 3:30am, they climbed a direct route up the north face of Pico de Orizaba. They reached the summit crater rim at about 7am and then traversed, in very windy conditions, the rim until the true summit at 5,700m; catching the sunrise over Mexico from Mexico’s highest summit. They spent 10 minutes on top before descending

Conditions were described as icy and slopes a minimum of 40 degrees with the upper sections around 45- 50 degrees.

They returned to the 4,400m refuge at 12:30pm and everyone is now in Tlachichuca.

View of the crater and beyond from EL Pico de Orizaba




Luis Ezpinosa high on Orizaba's Espinosa Route













David & Ting Sern


Pieda Grande, 8 Mar 2003, 22:20 (8am Mexico)
Woke up this morning with winds blasting at 50 to 60 knots here at 4,400m. David’s summit attempt might be called off if the winds are also blasting away at the higher altitudes. In any case, David will be coming down after a day as we have carried enough food for only a day to the high camp. He will give us a detailed report when he returns.

Am doing OK. Stomach was a bit raw from the chilies in the food. Cactus was not the issue, the chilies in it was hot. ; )
Ting Sern


Piedra Grande, 7 Mar 2003, 23:00
Returned from high camp. We carried supplies up. The route was a grunt. Just before the high camp at 4,900m, at the snout of the glacier on the mountain is a steep stretch that demands climbing over scree and loose rock. Ting Sern stopped here because it was demanding too much balancing and coordination from him. I pressed on with Luis, a Mexican climber we got to know.

We intend to return to the high camp tomorrow, rest there and make a summit push on Saturday (Mexico time) to Aguja de Hielo and if all goes well, a further push on to the true summit of Orizaba at 5,700m. Timg Sern will stay on in Pieda Grande, as we find that the stretch before high camp may be dangerous for him.

Right now we are exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Time for food and rest. We are healthy.
Dave & Ting Sern


Pieda Grande (Big Rock), Thur, 6 Mar 2003 10:00

Just reached the mountain hut. A bit of a grunt but we are doing great. Ting Sern had a bit of stomach ache earlier on… he must have swallowed a bit too much cactus salad last night!!! Fibre. Besides that, we are OK. Feel good up high and breathing fresh air!

We will do a carry up tomorrow, setting a camp higher up. Keeping gear and food there for a night. We will return to this hut tomorrow after the carry. Then the following day, we will climb up to this camp, rest for a few hours before setting off for a summit attempt.

Having dinner next.

Dave and Ting Sern


Team Orizaba checks in, Wed, 5 Mar 2003 04:40

It’s hot here. But we’re chilling out in Tlachichuca (2,600m). Today we did the tourist thing; taking a hike to some old corn silos, shaped like upside down ice-cream cones. They’ve been abandoned for 30 years. Above, on a hill slope is a shrine to the Guadalupe Virgin. Beside that, there’s a small church… thats about it. Like I said, it’s asmall town.

Today we tried some ‘nopales’ or cactus salad (crunchy) and let our new friends try some ‘bak kwa’ and Chinese sesame dessert from Singapore. So far the Mexicans have been awfully friendly and our trip here has been exceeding expectations.

Tomorrow, we’re off to the Piedra Grande (Big Rock) alpine hut at 4,500m and make a go for the top of Orizaba on maybe Mar 7 or 8. Conditions look a bit icy up high but we will know only when we get closer. Feeling good and acclimatised after Iztaccihuatl.

Dave and Ting Sern


Team Orizaba checks in, Wed, 5 Mar 2003 04:40

It’s hot here. But we’re chilling out in Tlachichuca (2,600m). Today we did the tourist thing; taking a hike to some old corn silos, shaped like upside down ice-cream cones. They’ve been abandoned for 30 years. Above, on a hill slope is a shrine to the Guadalupe Virgin. Beside that, there’s a small church… thats about it. Like I said, it’s asmall town.

Today we tried some ‘nopales’ or cactus salad (crunchy) and let our new friends try some ‘bak kwa’ and Chinese sesame dessert from Singapore. So far the Mexicans have been awfully friendly and our trip here has been exceeding expectations.

in Tlachichuca, Tue, 4 Mar 2003 11:21
Ting Sern and I are in Tlachichucanow. It’s a real QUIET TOWN AT 2,600m. We just had dinner (cost about S$5 for 3 courses plus a beer) and the streets deathly quiet. Mexican food is country fare ‘ robust and simple with tortillas as the base (rice is like a sidedish compared to what we are used to) But the salsas are spicy and yummy. TS…. brrrup….

Solo on Iztaccihuatl (Received on 4 Mar 2003 09:13)
March 2
I set off at 5am from camp at 4,200m to push for the top of Izta (5,220m). Ting Sern stayed at the camp, keeping the fort safe! I reached the subsidiary summit of Las Rodillas (The Knees), 5,000m in 4.5 hours, before turning back; 2 hours from Izta’s highest point, El Pecho (The Breasts), I had to turn back because we have to get off the mountain in time to meet our transport. The Knees include sustained sections of 3rd class scambling and the hardest technical part of the summit climb. It was a good climb.

The transport, confirmed days before was arriving at the base of Izta, was waiting at 3pm to bring us back to Puebla. Had we reached the mountain hut at 4,500m yesterday, summitting Izta would have been assured. We are now off to Tlachichuca for Orizaba, the expedition’s main goal.



Tired on Izta, Sun, 2 Mar 2003 08:10

An eventful day which started at 7am when we hauled our stuff with a view to get to the 4,500m mountain hut. I packed a tent, rope, the satcom kit with my own stuff and shuffled off.

The route traverses scree slopes and Ting Sern dropped farther behind. There are long sustained bits of loose stuff – energy sapping.

At 4,250m, I had news from other climbers coming up that Ting Sern had turned back. There is litle snow and climbing at the high altitude is the only issue we face on Izta. I dropped to 4,150m and began helping Ting Sern ditch gear. But Ting Sern’s pack was still not light enough for him, so I took on an extra 4 kg of water off him. We climbed up agaiin but at 4,300m he signalled that he was turning back. The rough terrain and his stability issues had exhausted him. I am no sherpa, and already carrying the bulk of the common gear, we pitched tent on a small saddle at 4,150. Ting Sern had tried his best but the challenges of the terrain was eventually too much for him, especially with the large pack he carried. Our friendship is more important than a rocky summit, so we descended together. Ting Sern thinks his limits were reached today….

It was a frustrating and tiring day. The end of it did not put us in position for a summit push tomorrow nor allowed for enhanced acclimatisation . Worse, the issue of Ting Sern’s capability in carrying gear and coping with the terrain is subject to discussion. Options include getting a guide for Ting Sern on Orizaba or finding ways he can climb without such loads. And I don’t have enough strength for both of us… hence the irony of ‘lightweight’ trips, it’s hard work, hauling all the gear on our own…

As for tomorrow, TS will continue acclimatising (drinking tea next to the tent) while i might go light and upwards and see how it goes – maybe gettiing to 5000m on Izta before a sprint down to the campsite. But right now we need to eat, drink and discuss our plans.



Buenos dias/tardes! Fri, 28 Feb 2003 12:36

What do you get when you put 2 jet-lagged, post-flu guys on a stiff hike of 3,000 vertical feet?
A : 2 sleepy and tired hombres…

We’ve just finished some acclimatisation in the La Malinche area; climbing at a rate of about 200-250 vertical metres per hour. No summit since that would have been a bit much considering we had touched down in Mexico barely 24 hours before. But we got up to around 4,200m which puts us in good stead for the big climbs ahead. We’ve made a few new friends and will be heading to Iztaccihuatl next. So far, so good.

Mexico is lively and the ‘mole poblano’ (a traditional Puebla dish) excellent.



Mexico! Thu, 27 Feb 2003 1:44:36 (Singapore)
Writing from an internet cafe in Puebla (pop. 2million). Aching from the long flight… and lack of movement.

We touched down early this morning and caught a bus to Puebla, our jumping-off point for La Malinche, saw Popo (the volcano is smoking quite a bit) and Izataccihuatl en route.

We’ll be acclimatising in La Malinche tonight and going for the 4460m summit tomorrow as part of our build-up
Dave and TS


Feb 18th 2003: David and Ting Sern hold a media conference on the Mountain of the Star Expedition 2003. Over the past 2 weeks, David has been speaking to and encouraging thousands of students in their goal to raise S$60,000 for the Society for the Physically Disabled. All funds raised go to the SPD.

Watch this space for pictures and dispatches from Feb 25th when the team departs for Mexico.
Picture below: Dave ( L ) and Ting Sern ( R) hold the SPD flag which will go up with them to the mountains

David and TingSern at the expedition kick-off with the SPD flag









Cho Oyu Expedition 1997
David makes the hard push from Camp 2 (7000m) to Camp 3 (7400m). He led Singapore’s first successful attempt to an 8000m peak and summitted with four others in autumn 1997.

From this point every camp between the summit camp (3) and basecamp can be seen down the northwest ridge.