NTU undergrad wants to summit Everest via dangerous route

Undergrad Jeremy Tong has fallen into crevasses and has been so tired climbing mountains that he has fallen asleep with the risk of never waking up.

The weather, lack of oxygen, falls and avalanches, all factor into how dangerous it is.

But despite the risks, the 25-year-old Nanyang Technological University final-year student continues to chase his passion of adventure and challenge his limits.

Mr Tong, who will be making an unusual attempt to reach the top of Mount Everest next year, will have his one minute of fame soon.

Starting this week, a clip of his adventures will be broadcast on AXN (StarHub TV channel 511) as part of AXN Attitude, a series that celebrates those who embrace life in unexpected, extraordinary ways.

The one-minute featurette will showcase Mr Tong as he reflects on his journey thus far.

Mr Tong climbed his first mountain, Mount Ophir, when he was just 14, as part of his co-curricular activity in the National Cadet Corps. He has climbed 33 mountains.

He has fallen into crevasses, which are large deep cracks in glaciers, at least twice each at Lenin Peak in Kyrgyzstan and Ancohuma in Bolivia, and was hauled out by his partner, whom he was roped to.

In 2013, Mr Tong was so exhausted on his way down the 6,091m Pisang Peak in Nepal, that he forgot how to use his tools.

When he dropped one of his tools, he saw it fall all the way down and was out of sight in a few seconds.


"If I had fallen, I would have died. When I finally reached the base camp, I was so tired and so scared that I cried in my partner's arms," said Mr Tong.

Yet Mr Tong is attempting to become the youngest Singaporean to summit Mount Everest through the North Ridge route from Tibet. It is a route known for its treacherous conditions. He will be there from March to June next year.

Mr David Lim, 51, who led the first Singapore team to climb Everest in 1988 via the South Col route, said: "I'm glad he's giving it a crack. It's nice to see a new generation of mountaineers coming up and tackling the harder routes."

Mr Lim, a motivational speaker, who led another team of Singaporeans up Everest in 2001 via the North Ridge route, said: "The risks are very different from the South.

"For the North Ridge route, you are up high for longer, however, there is a less chance of ice fall. They're both two very different sides of the mountain."

Mr Tong said: "Through the training I've been through, I'm preparing myself to be more independent and only rely on myself while scaling Everest.

"I watched the movie Everest where I saw how there can be storms and how people die due to hypothermia and frostbite.

"There are lots of aspects to take into consideration and prepare for. This whole year will be dedicated to my training."

Mr Tong is able to fund his passion thanks to sponsors like Kallang Wave Mall and Anytime Fitness.

"Whenever I go on climbs I think of my friend Ong Eng Wu, who slipped and fell 800m to his death as he was climbing Mount Aspiring (in New Zealand in 2010). I'm reminded to remain focused," he said.

Mr Tong's mother Tan Soon Tay, 55, a customer services officer, said: "Personally, I worry about the risks involved. However, since it is his passion, I will support him and encourage him. I sincerely wish he will accomplish his mission for Everest."


This article was first published on January 29, 2016.
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