Singapore’s Women of Everest
The Singapore Women’s Everest Team was formed in 2004 with the aim of sending the first team of Singaporean women to the world’s highest peak. Following a rigorous training schedule over a period of 5 years, we successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest in May 2009, placing 5 Singapore women on the top of the world.
Everest, symbolically, embodies values of passionate pursuit, resilience, tenacity, and a sense of enterprising adventure. In spirit, our Everest expedition extends beyond mountaineering. Through our journey, we provide a platform for us to attempt the seemingly-impossible, and we hope to inspire others to do likewise.
In the words of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Inaugural National Day Rally Speech in 2004, “…ten years ago, I don’t think you could have imagined a women’s team wanting to go and climb Mount Everest, but today, there is…”
The team entered the Singapore Guinness Book of Records for climbing above the infamous “Death Zone” in excess of 8000m in altitude (Mt Cho Oyu, 8201m, 6th highest mountain in the world). Since our formation, we have been sharing their experiences through talks and sharing sessions with schools and various corporations.
In 2014, we published our book, “More Than A Mountain”, which chronicles our 5-year journey from Singapore to the top of the world.
The Singapore Women’s Everest Team is made up of:
Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Co
Ms Jane Lee was the leader, and a founding member of the Singapore Women’s Everest Team. Jane was the first woman from Southeast Asia, and the 37th woman in history, to have scaled the Seven Summits (the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents). She also completed a 560km ski crossing of Greenland in June 2013.
When not in the mountains, Jane is a waterbaby, and an avid surfer and kiteboarder.
Jane received her MBA from Yale University in 2013, and currently works as an Engagement Manager for McKinsey and Company.
Sim Yi Hui
Manager, Singapore Management University (SMU)
Yihui’s first foray into the outdoors was climbing a snow-capped mountain during a Technical Mountaineering Course in New Zealand back in 2003. She has since developed a passion for hiking and climbing mountains in extreme places.
In 2009, Yihui is the co-founder and co-leader the Singapore Women’s Everest Team. She is privileged to be able to stand atop some of the most beautiful mountains like Mera Peak in Nepal, Mustagh Ata in Xinjiang, China, Mt Cho Oyu in Tibet, China and Denali (Mt McKinley) in Alaska, USA.
Besides snow and ice environments, Yihui is also fascinated and drawn to extreme environments. In 2011, she spent 51 days walking across 1,600km of the Gobi desert in Mongolia, assisted by wayward, bile-spitting Bactrian camels. In 2013, she also hiked across the Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan, assisted by yaks and horses.
Beyond the attraction of the sheer immensity, as well as the physical and mental challenges inherent in such expeditions, Yihui is also motivated by the opportunity for such expeditions to be used as educational platforms – to inspire and engage people to develop an appreciation of nature and extreme environments.
As part of the Singapore Women’s Everest Team, she and her team were inducted into the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation (SCWO) Hall of Fame in 2014.
Business Owner, Ace Adventure
Honored as one of the Great Women of Our Time by Women’s Weekly, Joanne is profoundly passionate about mountain climbing. She was introduced to trekking at a young age and continues to engage in it. Joanne set up Ace Adventure in 2000 and specialises in organising adventure races and team building activities. After returning from Everest, Joanne partnered with a friend and expanded Ace Adventure’s repertoire to include adventure travel.
Joanne regularly gives motivational talks, and she has over the years enabled various ones from different walks of life to experience leadership on the mountain, develop life goals, and learn to deal with challenges and adversities.
When not climbing, Joanne enjoys reading and sketching in her note book.
Mother & Artist
Before joining the Singapore Women’s Everest Team, Esther had never seen a mountain before in her life, much less climbed one.
Life took a steep turn when she responded to a nationwide call for women who wanted to climb Everest, and she was selected for the initial team after a grueling selection process. She didn’t have much to offer in terms of mountaineering experience or athletic abilities. She was chosen based on one thing – her willingness to put her life on hold for a 5-year journey to climb the world’s highest peak.
With the team, Esther went on to climb and summit mountains in far-flung corners of the world, including Mt Aylmer (2,699m) in New Zealand; Mera Peak (6,476m) in Nepal; Er Feng (5,276m) in China; Mustagh Ata (7,546m) in Central Asia, and Mt Everest (8,850m) in Nepal.
Esther was awarded a commendation by the President of Singapore, and was inducted into the inaugural Singapore Women’s Hall Of Fame with the team in 2014. She is also a recipient of the HerWorld Young Women Achiever Award, and NTU Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
When asked about her next mountain, Esther says in jest that she’s “climbing a mountain of laundry” at home. Her current station in life is caring for her three young daughters; ages 1, 3 and 5, so it is a very high mountain of laundry indeed.
When not constantly peppered with questions on Duplo and snacks, she enjoys mountain biking, running (albeit with a running pram sometimes), and painting.
Lee Peh Gee
Army Officer, Singapore Armed Forces
A believer in living a purposeful existence, Peh Gee is inspired to be of service to others through her life.
With the achievement and lessons she has gained from Everest, backed by decades of experience in training and development and deep understanding of how adults learn, Peh Gee is able to present clear and practical solutions to a presentation or event programme.
Peh Gee is also a certified master practitioner in Neuro-Linguistics Programming, Hypnosis and Timeline Therapy Practitioner. As an in-house Arbinger facilitator, part of her work involves facilitating the organization to adopt a results focus outward mindset so as to create a sustainable advantage.
In her spare time, she finds herself happiest when curling up with an inspirational or insightful book and going on adventures with her lovely dogs Muji and Phoebe.
Lee Li Hui
Product Innovation Manager, Vice President, Swiss Re
Li Hui is a product innovation manager with Swiss Re’s Solutions Group. She drives the execution of future health strategy across Asia and facilitates ideation and co-innovation of future ready solutions for today.
Li Hui is the first woman from the Singapore Women’s Everest Team to summit Mt Everest (8,850m) on 20th May 2009. For these achievements, she was awarded the NUS Outstanding Young Alumni, Herworld Young Women Achiever Award and received a special commendation by the President of Singapore in 2009. In 2014, Li Hui was inducted into the Singapore Women Hall of Fame.
Li Hui is also a certified Padi Open Water diver, wakeboarder and avid mountain biker. Since returning from Everest, Li Hui continues to challenge herself in other adventures including her successful summit of the tallest peak in South America, Aconcagua (6,962m) in 2011 and being one of the first Singaporean women duo to ski traverse Greenland from West to East in 2013.
The NATAS Singapore Women’s Everest Team is proud to be the nation’s first all-women’s climbing team to Mount Everest, with a string of successful climbs under our belt. Our journey to Mount Everest would not have been possible without the support and guidance of three very important men in our lives and we would like to take this opportunity to honour and thank them:
Lim Kim Boon
Mr Lim Kim Boon is the team’s climbing coach and Base Camp Manager. Kim Boon is a climbing instructor based in the UK and China and he has been on numerous climbing expeditions over two decades, including a climb to Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen in 2005. Kim Boon’s extensive knowledge and experience on the snow and ice has been invaluable to the team’s technical skills training. As a mentor and Base Camp Manager, he oversees the logistical operations at base camp and provides an additional perspective to advise the team’s decisions. A veteran in the climbing scene and a very generous and sociable person, Kim Boon is respected by many in the climbing community, both local and overseas, and is much loved by the team.
Kim Boon is married to a very understanding wife, a doctor based in the UK, who stoically tolerates his long disappearances in the mountains.
Dr Mok Ying Jang
Dr Mok is a medical doctor by profession and was the team’s very first climbing mentor when the team was formed in 2004. Dr Mok has over two decades of climbing experience, and together with Kim Boon, was part of the pioneer group of Singaporeans to actively start climbing. Dr Mok was a member of Singapore’s first expedition to Mount Everest in 1998 and the 2000 Singapore Antarctica expedition. As a climbing doctor, Dr Mok provides crucial advice on high altitude medicine to the team, and served as the team’s doctor on the 2007 Cho Oyu expedition. In addition to his medical knowledge, Dr Mok’s gregarious nature and acute sense of humour brings much merriment and laughter to the expedition. Dr Mok will serve as the team’s medical consultant via satellite telephone on the team’s Everest expedition.
Dr Mok is married with two adorable children and is currently based in Hong Kong, where he continues to send his love to the team via email.
Mr Suresh Keerthi
The team’s success in fundraising is mostly credited to the selfless and tireless efforts of Mr Keerthi. An enterprising businessman with a strong social and humanitarian conscience, Mr Keerthi is an active member of the Rotary Club of Singapore. The team was first introduced to Mr Keerthi in 2007 and since then, Mr Keerthi has generously volunteered his time, resources and experience to advise and assist the team’s fundraising. Mr Keerthi is a firm supporter of the team and the team is grateful for his unwavering belief and for his advce and help with the team’s fundraising.
Step into the team’s journey up Mt Everest with detailed expedition posts on our progress to the summit.
An inspiring story of 6 young women, bounded by a common love, and their 5 year journey that culminated with the summit of Mount Everest.
Hear from our experience of realising a dream deemed impossible, and how the pursuit of Everest lent us new lenses to view life.
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