News @ AsiaOne

One mountain is not enough

Climber Miss Jane Lee thinks nothing of taking extreme measures to make sure she is well enough to enjoy her favourite sport. -AsiaOne

Fri, May 13, 2011

By Angelina Dass

Miss Jane Lee did not want to visit her sick boyfriend two weeks prior to her Mount Everest climb, despite knowing she would not see him for another three months.

The 27-year-old who led Singapore's first women team up Mount Everest loves her sport so much that nothing gets in the way of it. And she was afraid that her former boyfriend may pass on his germs to her.

"Maybe that's why we (referring to her boyfriend at that time)  are no longer together," she chuckled.

She even refuses to shake hands with other people while she is on her expeditions, as she does not want to contract any viruses that may make her sick.

"When you are climbing a big mountain, you are always at altitude, so your body never recovers... a cold can become pneumonia simply because your body is surviving at a very minimal level, you don't have additional resources to recover."

Miss Lee is on track to be the first woman from South East Asia to complete the 7 Summits - the highest peaks of 7 continents including Kilimanjaro, Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Carstensz Pyramid, Vinson and Everest.

With just two of these left to conquer, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and Elbrus in Russia, the chirpy athlete is focused on the task at hand.

She is still training hard, although the two mountains are not known to be exceptionally difficult among the seven.

Miss Lee trains six days a week and for two sessions a day. She does a combination of long endurance runs, short interval runs and circuit training on stairs while carrying a pack.

The old-school hip hop fan hits the gym in the evenings where she spends about an hour to an hour and a half doing weights training.

She does not neglect any part of her body and says she works on her upper and lower body while strengthening her core.

Miss Lee revealed that an all-rounded training session is required to prepare the body as expeditions typically include climbing for extended periods of time from anywhere between eight to 24 hours at a time - all the while carrying a heavy pack.

Mind over matter

Miss Lee also said that climbing to her is not only a physical challenge but a mental one too. After trekking for a full day, the "mind takes over and keeps the body going".

This mentality kept her going when she was on the move for more than 24 hours without rest on Denali in Alaska - her most challenging climb yet.

She said: "At that point, your body is extremely tired so I cannot possibly say it is physical anymore because at that point it is just a mental game".

"To really find out that you cannot go on is when you collapse and faint. Literally."

"You can always take another step, it's whether you want to."

Miss Lee has no fear while on the slopes.

Instead of being paralysed with fear, her senses are heightened in dangerous situations and she is more aware and rational.

The former star blogger for citizen journalism website STOMP said she truly enjoys the climbing experience and that it is not all about reaching the summit.

"The summit is icing on the cake. It gives you a goal to look forward to. It's very good motivation to get up in the morning".

"But once I start climbing, every moment is enjoyment to me. I like being in the environment. I just like looking around and talking to other climbers".

"I'm lucky I am able to climb in my prime, when I'm young I can train and I'm fit" she said.

Giving a nod to her sponsors, she said "I am very thankful for my sponsors because without them I am not going anywhere".

Her climbing expeditions on the 7 summits are sponsored by Bank Julius Baer and Swiber.

Interview with Dr Tom Meier

Dr Meier is a member of the Executive Board and CEO Asia & Middle East of Bank Julius Baer.

Together with four other Julius Baer's representatives, he will climb to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro as part of Julius Baer's Mount Kilimanjaro Charity Climb where funds are raised for Mainly I Love Kids (MILK).

Tell us what you are feeling as the date of the Mt Kilimanjaro climb approaches? Are you excited?

I am indeed very excited about the Mt Kilimanjaro climb. It has been my aspiration to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and to add to the excitement, I will be climbing with other colleagues of Bank Julius Baer and Singapore's young mountaineer, Jane Lee.

Will you be climbing to the summit or is there a certain distance that you will be aiming to get to?

I have every intention of going all the way to the summit!

Is this your first attempt at mountain climbing?

No, this is not my first attempt at mountain climbing; however it will be my first charity climb.

How did you get started?

My previous climbing experience involves mainly Swiss mountains such as Monte Rossa (4500 m), Piz Bernina and Palue - which all stand above 4000 meters.

In Asia, I have climbed Mount Kinabalu.

These days I also like going trekking with my family.

Any memorable climbs?

As a matter of fact, yes I have a memorable climb and it was at Bianco Grat in the eastern Alps, which is a stunning narrow ridge and 800 meters in length.

There is a very steep drop-off on either side of the ridge so to traverse on it required a lot of focus and concentration. One minor slip is definitely deadly.

What motivated you to take up the challenge of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has always been an aspiration of mine. I remember admiring it from a distance when my family and I went to Tanzania on a safari trip some time ago.

Moreover, the fact that Jane Lee will be climbing with me provides further motivation, as she is an inspirational individual and to closely observe her mountain climbing techniques is definitely a rare opportunity.

As this is also a Julius Baer's charity climb and the fact that employees and clients are donating generously towards a good cause, it will give me all the motivation I need when the expedition starts.

How have you been getting yourself ready for the climb?

I don't have a particular training/workout schedule but I try to do running or bicycling 3 to 4 times a week, as well as swimming to maintain stamina and a good basic fitness.

One thing that you cannot train for is altitude that will definitely be the hardest thing to master.

Are you on a special diet?

I am not on a special diet per se and I generally eat quite well and try to maintain my weight. After all, the fewer kilos you have, the less you carry up the steep climb to Kilimanjaro!

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