Ravichandran chokes up on Mt Everest incidents involving Malaysian climbers

SEPANG: "We have been conquering Mount Everest, but this year Everest beats us," said national solo climber, T Ravichandran (pic) tearfully on recalling his experience with the late Lt Col Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub and on hearing disabled climber Muhammad Hawari Hashim who was reported missing.

Awang Askandar, 56, was confirmed dead on Friday (May 19) after falling in his climb to the peak of Mount Everest while Muhammad Hawari, 33, was feared lost in Mt Everest area when descending from Camp 4 after reaching the peak of the world's highest mountain at 8,848 metres.

"This year is the second time we met in the mission to conquer Mount Everest. This time I was in front of them and I also faced tough challenges of extreme weather in my descent from Mount Everest," he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), here on Sunday (May 21), upon the arrival from the 2023 Himalayan Sports Everest-Lhotse Expedition.

According to Ravichandran on May 17, he managed to reach the top of Mount Everest and waved the Jalur Gemilang and sponsor's flag on the mountain before descending from Mount Everest on May 18 to capture Mount Lhotse (the fourth highest mountain in the world at a height of 8,516 metres) but he had to be rescued and taken to Kathmandu for treatment due frostbite on a finger.

For Ravichandran, 58, the mission with the Himalayan Sports Everest-Lhotse Expedition 2023 was to set a record as the first Malaysian climber to conquer the summit of Mount Lhotse after raising the flag at the peak of Mount Everest within 24 hours.

The success of conquering Mount Everest this time is the fourth time for Ravichandran.

Regarding the fate of the two Malaysian climbers, Ravichandran said: "I do not know what happened to Awang Askandar and Muhammad Hawari who also faced a difficult time. I don't know what happened to them".

Muhammad Hawari was with a group of climbers to the top of Everest together with Awang Askandar who is also the Kedah Civil Defence Force director in the Malaysian Everest 2023 mission.

According to him, even though they were on different teams from the late Awang Askandar and Muhammad Hawari, they often met at Everest Base Camp (EBC) to rest and drink together.

"Climbers are usually friendly, not to mention that there were only five Malaysians, so we are very close like a family regardless of race, religion and age. On the day heading to the top of Everest, Muhammad Hawari was with me from Tent 1 to Tent 2. He is a great guy, even though he is mute and deaf but every time we meet we always start with a hug and tap each other's head," he said with tears in his eyes.

Ravichandran prayed that Muhammad Hawari could be found even though the search mission was quite challenging due to the weather.

He said this incident had a deep impact on his mental health, but he hoped the younger generation would not be afraid of the world of climbing which is always full of challenges and risks.

"Everest beats us this year...last year we returned with pride but this year is different because of the loss of lives, so far we have recorded 10 people including Awang Askandar compared to three people last year. This year's wounds are quite deep mentally," he said.

According to Ravichandran, every mistake and defeat experienced by Malaysian Everest climbers needs to be reviewed, including weather, technical and training factors to reduce the risk in the mission to conquer the highest mountain in the world.

"People always think that only funds are important but it is not, because many aspects need to be managed precisely to reduce risk. We have to take the initiative seriously and not underestimate the risk when it comes to the mission to conquer Mount Everest," he said.- Bernama

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