Singapore Everest team may still make ascent bid

SINGAPORE'S Everest team, safe but shaken after Saturday's massive earthquake, may yet make an attempt to scale the world's highest peak.

The three climbers stationed at the mountain's base camp are now helping other camps that have been more badly affected, and will wait a week before deciding on their next step. The three members from Aluminaid Team Singapura Everest 2015 are teacher Yusrina Yaakob, 28, and brothers Ismail Latiff, 36, and Zulkifli Latiff, 42, both Singapore Civil Defence Force officers.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, team captain Muhammad Hilwan Mohamed Idrus, 29, who is in Singapore, said the group's camp manager in Nepal will advise them if they can proceed, but much will depend on the situation on the ground.

Mr Hilwan said he was told during a brief WhatsApp conversation with his teammates yesterday that they were walking around their site at the Everest base camp to survey the damage.

"They see the devastation around them," he said. Their Wi-Fi connection was cut off before he could get any further details. They were also uncontactable by satellite phone from Saturday night because they had lent it out for search and rescue efforts.

In their latest update, they had said: "At this present moment, we are all healthy and positive despite feeling a little shaken by the earthquake and avalanche."

A fourth member of the team, economics graduate Seumas Yeo, 26, was in Kathmandu recovering from an unrelated injury.

Mr Hilwan could not make the trek because he suffered a stroke last year due to low oxygen levels and dehydration during a training expedition.

The team hopes to scale Mount Everest to fly the Singapore flag for the SG50 celebrations.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on his Facebook page on Saturday that he was saddened by the earthquake, but relieved that the team was safe.

Yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim wrote on Facebook: "I am glad to hear that the four Singaporeans attempting to scale Mount Everest are safe, and some of them have decided to stay to help other camps that have been badly affected."

jalmsab@sph.com.sg