Media Releases


​NTU trio in quest to summit Everest

Published on: 22-Mar-2017

Image 2 - Photo by NTU Singapore.JPG
                                                                                                                                 Photo by NTU Singapore

To promote a resilient and can-do spirit amongst Singaporeans, a team from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) will embark on the NTU-National Institute of Education (NIE) Everest Team Singapore to summit Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain.

The team consists of Dr Arjunan Saravana Pillai, a teaching fellow from NIE at NTU; Nur Yusrina Ya’akob, a trainee teacher pursuing the Postgraduate Diploma in Physical Education at NIE; and Jeremy Tong, a graduate of NTU’s Sports Science and Management programme.
If successful, the NTU trio will be the first Singapore team to scale Everest after the Singapore Women’s Everest Team in 2009.
They depart this Sunday (26 March) for their expedition, and have until early June to reach the summit of the 8,848m high Everest.
Mr Tan Chin Hwee, a member of the NTU Board of Trustees and a keen supporter of the team, said, “Resilience is one of the key attributes that Singaporeans must have to be future ready. That is why NTU is supportive of this Everest expedition as it resonates with the University’s belief that values such as a discipline, teamwork and a spirit of adventure and risk-taking are qualities that will help Singapore adapt and remain competitive in a volatile world.
“Despite the treacherous experience that the SG50 Everest expedition went through, I’m glad Yusrina, who was part of that expedition, Dr Saravana and Jeremy have not been deterred, and are instead even more determined than ever to summit Everest.”
Second shot at the summit
The idea for an expedition started in early 2016 when Yusrina, 30, decided to revive her dream of summiting Everest. 
She was co-leader of the SG50 team that were forced to abort, at around 5,500m, their ascent of Everest in 2015 when the deadly Nepal earthquake struck. The climb was meant to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee that year.
“Having made it more than halfway up the mountain two years ago, I was disappointed that the team had to abort the climb. But had we departed just one day earlier, we would have been in a much more dangerous situation higher up the mountains,” recalled Yusrina.
She teamed up with Dr Saravana and Jeremy after learning they also planned to climb Everest.
“It’s not so much the mountain that you conquer, but yourself,” said Yusrina, who is also aiming to become the first female Malay-Muslim Singaporean to reach the top of Everest.
Dr Saravana, 47, said, “It’s not about ‘what if we fail?’ People are afraid to take the first step, so hopefully, by embarking on this expedition and giving it a go, we hope it will resonate with others and inspire them to take that first step and achieve their dreams.”
Jeremy, 26, added, “Our expedition is also about inspiring the various age groups to pursue a healthy lifestyle, particularly with Singapore’s ageing population.”
Preparations in final phase
To fund their expedition, which is supported by NTU and NIE – an autonomous institute within NTU – the trio raised more than S$150,000. Much of the expenditure is for the expedition package and personal equipment.
As part of preparations, the team consulted Singaporeans who have climbed Everest. These include David Lim, who led the first Singaporean expedition that summited Everest in May 1998, and the Singapore Women’s Everest team.
Said Jeremy, “We also trained for the past year, including two to three hour runs up Bukit Timah Hill and high-rise public housing blocks. We also do our own strength and fitness regimens, and rock climbing to improve our technical skills.”
Straddling the China-Nepal border, Everest is one of only 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000m, also known as the “Death Zone” where climbers often suffer from altitude sickness due to the insufficient levels of oxygen.
Trio draw from wealth of experience
While recognising the magnitude of the challenge, the NTU-NIE Everest Team Singapore have their own mountaineering experience to draw upon.
Yusrina’s unsuccessful attempt at Everest two years ago, where she had to brave aftershocks and avalanches from the earthquake on her descent back to Base Camp, made her fully appreciate the challenges that the team will face.
Dr Saravana, who has more than a decade of climbing experience, has climbed several peaks, including the 6,400m Mount Kang Yatze II in India. He was NTU’s Sportsman of the Year in track and field for 1995/96.
For Jeremy, the highest summit he reached in more than 10 years of mountaineering was the 7,134m high Lenin Peak in Kyrgyzstan, although he regards the 6,901m Pisang Peak in Nepal as his most challenging. Jeremy also climbed Peak Korzhenevskaya (7,105m) in Tajikistan last year to become the first Singaporean to summit two Central Asian peaks above 7,000m.
“All of us know what it is like climbing at high altitudes. But my experience on Everest will help the team plan better, on what to do and to avoid,” said Yusrina, who has also summited the 8,201m Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest mountain.
“Beautiful as she is, Everest is also extremely unpredictable and volatile, which leaves climbers with a sense of humility and respect for the mountain,” quipped Dr Saravana.
Upon their return, the team hope to share their experiences through community outreach activities and inspire others towards achieving excellence in their chosen fields.
For more information and updates on the NTU-NIE Everest Expedition team, visit their Facebook page at
*** END ***
Media Contact:
Tan Yo-Hinn (Mr)
Assistant Director
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
T: +65 6790 4889
About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world’s top young university for the last three years running. The University’s main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit
About the National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore
The National Institute of Education (NIE) is among the world’s top education institutes, renowned for its excellence in teacher education and educational research. Founded in 1950, NIE has played a key and pivotal role in shaping and developing Singapore’s teaching workforce.
In a dynamic education milieu, NIE prepares teachers with the requisite values, skills and knowledge to meet the demands of 21st century learners and classrooms. The quality of our programmes is based on evidence-informed review and enhancement and delivered using innovative pedagogies in digitally-mediated learning spaces. We focus on linking theory to practice and aim to develop students a global and inquiring mindset for lifelong learning.
Our degree, higher degree and professional development programmes offer global perspectives through international practica and semester exchanges while 21st century pedagogies, multidisciplinary curricula and service learning initiatives help us to develop the holistic reflective practitioner and school leader. NIE is ranked top 14 in the world for research impact and excellence in the field of Education. Our research philosophy is focused on impacting school practices, enhancing our own programmes, informing policy formation and ultimately, improving student learning outcomes. Our international reputation has allowed us to build strategic alliances with other renowned institutions in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.
For more information, visit:

Back to listing

Share Article