Amputee now aims for Mount Everest

PETALING JAYA - Five years after climbing Mount Kinabalu (pic), amputee Melvin Tong will now attempt to trek to the Mount Everest Base Camp.

He and 15 others will be trekking for a cause - in support of education for underprivileged children in Malaysia.

However, compared to Mount Kinabalu, Tong knows that the trek to the camp from the Nepali town of Lukla will be arduous and that he will have to go at his own pace.

"It won't be a leisurely walk. There will be many challenges such as low oxygen levels, strong winds and the harsh weather conditions," he said in a phone interview recently.

The return trek, covering some 120km, is expected to be completed in about two weeks - nine days for ascent and five days for descend.

The group, which started the trek on Friday, is expected to reach the camp (5,364m) next Saturday.

The highest point of the trek is the peak of Mount Kalapathar (5,545m).

Tong, 30, has been training almost every day for the past few months by hiking, going to the gymnasium or swimming.

At 17, Tong lost his right leg when he was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma (a cancerous tumour that originates in the connective fibrous tissue found at the end of bones of the arms or legs).

He was the first amputee to reach the peak of Mount Kinabalu at 4,095m.

The funds raised from the Mount Everest climb will go to the Muslim Aid Foundation and the Suka Society.

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