Team Tortoise are Cheryl, Min, Opus, Elaine and Carrie

5 torts making their slow and steady ascent up Mt Kinabalu...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bad grrls

Cheryl sent me a text. She was bringing her colleague, Kim Lian for stair climb on Thursday, 8 July.

“She is 52 and super fit. She has climbed many mountains and is preparing to climb another in Aug. She’ll provide good motivation not to be malu-ed by her!”.

Kim Lian came with a large backpack and well worn hiking boots. In her bag, she had several large bottles of water and I don’t know what else (rocks?) but it weighed about 12 kgs. On her ankles, more weights. She was training for her climb coming climb to a mountain in Sze Chuan. She started trekking 7 years ago. Her first ascent to Kinabalu was unsuccessful due to altitude sickness but she went back again a month later with renewed determination - walking slowly and made it to the summit.

I always thought that altitude sickness was an all or nothing. Either you could take the high altitude and continue climbing mountains or you couldn’t take it and never again try to climb a mountain. But here was living example, that altitude sickness could be overcome by trying and trying again.

Couldn’t help asking about her training regime. Every week she climbs a rock wall, lifts weights at the gym and staircase trains on her own. Her Bukit Timah hill training on the weekend comprises doing one loop up with weights on her back and ankles, 3 times up and down the killer staircases near the summit. One round isn’t enough. They would stop for lunch and then return for the same thing all over again. As part of their training, they learn rappelling, rope tying skills and snow walking.



On our way to the train station, I told her that my dream was to go to Nepal. To one day walk the Annapurna circuit and see the breathtaking views. A trek there would take at least 2 weeks but I couldn’t do it right now with 2 young kids.

Leave the kids with the husband, maid, get your mom to come in. If you don’t do it, you never will.

Do you have kids?

Yes, two. 19 and 20 years old.

Then she paused and laughed, don’t let me teach you all the bad things.

She didn’t have to teach me. I was already hatching in my head, grand plans. But to have a 52 year old, mother of 2 who had gone to bad bad places tell me that it was okay; okay to be bad?

That felt really good.

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