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Singapore climbers return from North


By Asem Mustafa Awan

ISLAMABAD "We have unfinished business in Karakorums and we will certainly come back," said Grant Rawlinson member of the Singapore winter mountaineering expedition which is leaving for home after an unsuccessful bid on two under 6000 metres peak.

Thirty-five year old Rajiv Raji Koul member of the Singapore Mountaineering Federation led the expedition.

It was the first time that any Singapore expedition came on Pakistani soil with climbing credentials of Nepal, Scotland, America, Canada and Indian mountain ranges.

"The weather was very cold and it was well over minus 30 and on both peaks we exercised better judgment then to push our luck," said Rajiv adding," The expedition reached all its objectives which were introducing and exposing the Singapore climbers at the new horizons of extreme winter climbing and develop a good relationship with Pakistan mountaineering authorities."

"Our experiences have been very enriching," said Rajiv who has climbed in Nepal, America, Canada and India.

The five member team took two peaks of 6000 metres. The first peak was Shalmina Sar on Batura Glacier having Base Camp at 3700 metres.

The expedition adopted Alpine Style with Advance Base Camp at 3900 metres and managed 5400 metres, 600 metres below the summit.

Twenty-six year old Grant Rawlinson member of the expedition having experience of climbing in Scottish winter climbing said," The weather was too cold minus 35 degrees and the snow near the summit was thigh deep with avalanche hazard."

"We decided not to put a high camp due to extreme cold weather."

The second peak expedition encountered was Shufkateen Sar in Shimshal having 5400 metres summit. Grant reached the highest point with 5200 metres before calling it a day.

Rajiv managed around 5100 metres and fearing frost bite of his fingers he returned back.

"The snow was chest high and temperature were minus 40 degrees during our stay at the peak."

"We will come again as Pakistan has so much to offer in mountaineering and hopefully in 2001 we will attempt a peak above 7000 meter," said Rajiv who will also lead the expedition.

He said," The expedition started the quest for the summit from Advance Base Camp at 4300 meters highest point reached by other members was 4900 metres."

Other members of the expedition included Muhammad Hairul Nazwa Bin Dol (24), Foo Yiingkal (23) and Cheng Li Huei Glenn (30).

Qudrat Ali from Shimshal with two 8000ers Broad Peak (1999) and Gasherbrum II (2000) accompanied the team as mountain guide.

Rajiv specially thanked Ashraf Aman from Adventure Tours for all the assistance provided to them during their stay in Pakistan.

He said," Singapore is very active at the mountaineering front and has been hosting a number of international and Asian championships over the years."

He said," We are currently building up one of the biggest artificial wall in the world which will have 14 routes and will cater to international competitions of World Rock Climbing Championships level."

The team leaves on Monday (today).

CAPTION: Rajiv Rajikoul

CAPTION: Grant Rawlinson

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