Adventurous spirit

Woman with a conquering attitude

Ms Nur Yusrina Ya'akob at Everest base camp (left) and on the summit in May. Her desire to climb the world's highest peak stems partly from her love for challenges. "If I don't put myself in a difficult situation, that's not me. I look for challenges
Ms Nur Yusrina Ya'akob at Everest base camp (above) and on the summit in May. Her desire to climb the world's highest peak stems partly from her love for challenges. "If I don't put myself in a difficult situation, that's not me. I look for challenges, especially physical challenges," she says.PHOTO: JEREMY TONG
Ms Nur Yusrina Ya'akob at Everest base camp (left) and on the summit in May. Her desire to climb the world's highest peak stems partly from her love for challenges. "If I don't put myself in a difficult situation, that's not me. I look for challenges
Ms Nur Yusrina Ya'akob at Everest base camp and on the summit in May. Her desire to climb the world's highest peak stems partly from her love for challenges. "If I don't put myself in a difficult situation, that's not me. I look for challenges, especially physical challenges," she says.PHOTO: NOSANG BHOTE

The obsession with mountains for Ms Nur Yusrina Ya'akob - who recently became Singapore's first Malay woman to conquer Mount Everest - began with a poster.

When she was a first-year student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2006, she saw a poster featuring an NUS Centennial Everest Team that had successfully summited the world's highest peak the year before.

She took it home and put it on her bedside wall, where it stayed for four years. "I just loved it... It was beautiful, it looked very adventurous, and it made me want to go to the mountains."

Ms Yusrina, 30, who was part of an Everest expedition in 2015 that aborted their climb after an earthquake struck, was the only one out of a three-person team to reach the peak in May this year.

Her desire to climb the world's highest peak also stemmed from her love for challenges, said Ms Yusrina. "If I don't put myself in a difficult situation, that's not me. I look for challenges, especially physical challenges," she added.

But she knows her pursuit of mountaineering challenges can be dangerous, pointing out that she almost died in her Everest attempts.

The first was averted by the quake in 2015, and the second close shave came this trip when she fell about 6m off a rock face.

She has a quirky motivation method - sending postcards to herself; in them, she writes messages for herself to read after particularly dangerous expeditions.

It's important to be adventurous because it puts you in an unfamiliar situation, and that helps you grow as a person and builds character.

MS NUR YUSRINA YA'AKOB, 30, Singapore's first Malay woman to conquer Mount Everest.

She has sent herself five cards, all before climbing in the Himalayas. "When I'm writing one, I think I need to be home to read these postcards so I need to be safe, whether or not I'm successful."

Ms Yusrina, who is single, jokes that her excuse is that she is married to Mount Everest. Now her main focus is studies. Although she is not sure what her next journey will be, she is certain that her fire for adventure will continue to burn.

"It's important to be adventurous because it puts you in an unfamiliar situation, and that helps you grow as a person and builds character."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Woman with a conquering attitude'. Print Edition | Subscribe