Khoo Swee Chiow is leaving today for Pakistan to achieve his dream: the ascent of the K2
Everest climber targets feared K2
Khoo Swee Chiow aims to be first S-E Asian atop peak
By Leslie Kay Lim
“A SINGAPOREAN mountaineer is aiming to become the first South-East Asian to scale K2 – regarded by many as the world’s most dangerous peak.
An experienced climber, Mr Khoo Swee Chiow has tackled Everest three times since 1998, stood atop the highest mountains on seven continents and even visited the North and South Poles.
But he said scaling K2 – a “magnet for mountaineers”- has been a long-cherished dream. “It inspires me and yet, instills fear”, he added. “The name itself is so simple and yet, powerful.”
At 8,116m above sea level, the Pakistani mountain is 732m lower than Everest. But a combination of factors renders it more daunting, Mr Khoo explained. The mixed ground rock, ice and snow, combined with the steeper incline, means climbers need to be skilled in a variety of techniques. Rock-falls, avalanches and fickle weather are also a real concern.
While about 150 climbers a year reach the summit of Everest, there have been some years – 2010 most recently- where nobody has done so on K2. There is also a more ominous history, with 77 deaths recorded since 1939, 11 of which took place as recently as 2008.
Fellow mountaineer David Lim, who led the Everest expedition in 1998, reiterated the dangers, saying: “I don’t think K2’s a married man’s mountain”.
Friends and family expressed concern for Mr Khoo when he announced his plan. The 48-year-old father of two said his family was a greater area of concern this time around. He had to reassure his nine-year-old son, who had heard of K2’s reputation, that “Daddy will come back alive and well”.
Mr Khoo’s years of experience on mountains – which he calls his first love- will serve him well on the expedition.”
The Straits Time - Thursday, June 14, 2012
“He leaves for Pakistan on June 22, and will spend the next two months there preparing for and climbing K2. The climber has been sponsored by Seagate technology, and is part of a 13-member international open expedition. His team will be working with Mr Jamling Bhote, a trusted Sherpa with whom Mr Khoo has previous experience. They will be guided by Sherpa company Seven Summit Treks, with each climber bringing six tanks of oxygen.
Mr Khoo said he had thought about climbing K2 since before the first scaled Everest. But he admits that he had tried at that time, he would probably have failed. He said: “the more you climb, the older you are, the better you should be at alpine climbing- the survival part of it, the patience, the mental preparation.”
If his climb is successful, Mr Khoo will become the first South-East Asian to scale K2. Other climbers from Asia who have done so include those from Japan, South Korea and China. Singaporeans Robert Koh and Edwin Siew made an attempt in 2008, but turned around after narrowly escaping an incident in which 11 climbers died.
Describing a photo of K2 on his desk, Mr Khoo said: “I have been looking at it for many years. Now, the time has come, to meet her face to face.”