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ExWeb Everest debrief: Khoo Swee Chiow
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Jun 7, 2004 14: 23 EST
Khoo Swee Chiow attempted the summit without O's support on the 17th May, reached the Balcony at 8415m and decided to turn back. "I have never breathed so hard in my life" commented Swee. "The feeling is a bit like drowning. I spent so much energy just breathing that fatigue set in quickly. Luckily, the weather was very good and that allowed me to descend safely."

Swee, Malaysian-born Singaporean climber, ascended Cho Oyu in 1997, Everest in 1998 and Shisha Pangma Main in 2001. He also finished the Kosciuszko- and Carstensz-versions of the Seven Summits in 2000. Moreover he skied to the South Pole in the season 1999/2000 and to the North Pole in 2002. He is one of only three men, who finished both popular versions of the Seven Summits and skied to both Poles.

Before heading off this year, Swee comented; “The truth is, every time I go out on an adventure, there is no guarantee that I will come back alive, let alone succeed. There are always fears and questions in my mind. But the only way to answer those fears and questions is to do it.”

This time around, Swee was attempting to make the summit of Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. "I could go on and probably reach the summit but I know I would not come back alive. It was a struggle to get that high and the minute I got to the Balcony, my instinct told me to get down quickly. The idea of using oxygen to continue to the summit did not cross my mind (My Sherpa Dorjee Lama carried an emergency bottle for me)."

Even though Swee was one of the first climbers to go above 8,000m this season he decided to hold back on the summit push "since everyone is looking at the same weather forecast, there is likely to be a crowd on the first attempt." Because he was climbing without O's support speed was key and getting caught up in a bottle neck would have jeopardized his bid.

"This season, there have been at least 4 deaths on Everest and I had no intention to be on that list." Said Swee last week in Kathmandu. Asked if he would attempt his feat again, Swee replied: "Right now, I just want to see and hold my six-month-old son and spend some time with my wife and friends in a warm place."

Swee isn’t done after this season's Everest attempt though; he’s been selected by NORCA to train and lead the first ever Thai expedition team to Everest, scheduled to begin in March 2006. NORCA will sponsor the Thai team and is the title sponsor for Swee on his attempt this year.

Everest summiter, Khoo Swee Chiow, known as ‘Swee’, attempted to climb Everest from the South Side this spring without oxygen support. The Malaysian born climber has ascended Cho Oyu in 1997, Everest in 1998, and Shisha Pangma Main in 2001.

Image of Swee climbing and of Swee, his wife, Wee Leng and their son, Sheng Feng courtesy of daretodream.com
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