Hong Kong teacher calls off Everest expedition after bad weather, but vows to return next year

Educator to scale shorter mountain after bad weather forces her to abandon plan to conquer world's highest peak, but she vows to return

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 May, 2014, 8:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 4:39am

The Hong Kong teacher who wanted to scale Mount Everest to inspire her pupils has decided to abandon her plan this year after many teams withdrew from their expeditions in light of last month's deadly avalanche.

Ada Tsang Yin-hung had planned on becoming the first Hong Kong woman to conquer the world's highest mountain to inspire her pupils at Chan Chun Ha Secondary School through her experience.

But the 39-year-teacher decided to call off her mission in light of the avalanche on April 18 that killed at least 16 Sherpa guides. The tragedy has triggered protests and violence in the area, with guides refusing to work and demanding better insurance and safety conditions.

Nevertheless, Tsang, who teaches life education at the secondary school in Ma On Shan, said she intended to return to fulfil her dream next year.

For the time being, however, she would scale another peak - this one 7,000 metres tall - before returning to Hong Kong later this month, said her former pupil Catharine Leung, who has kept in close contact with Tsang since her expedition began.

Tsang conveyed her decision to Leung on Friday, on the 21st day of her trip, texting from her campsite about 3,000 metres from the Mount Everest peak.

Leung quoted the teacher as saying: "I couldn't get to the top of this 8,848.44-metre peak this year, but I hope to return next year. I won't give up.

"It's not about whether or not I conquer the peak, but along the way, I have found myself, watched my pupils grow up and have seen many lives changed. I haven't reached my goal, but I'll press on, step by step. Thank you for everyone's support."

Local guides decided they could not continue taking Tsang's team because too many other teams had left and there was not enough manpower to help clear the way.

One-third of this year's 36 expeditions teams had already packed up and headed home last week. All the Chinese teams but Tsang's left last Monday.

Tsang had told Leung last week about avalanches from other mountains several hundred metres away. "She said the noise was so frightening, it was louder than thunder," Leung said.

For now, Tsang will prepare to climb the 7,000-metre peak over the next few days. Although smaller than Everest, it is still a challenge and the experience will help improve her skills. She is expected to be without an internet connection for two weeks.

Tsang revealed her dream of conquering Mount Everest to her pupils four years ago. She made arrangements with the school to take time off for her trip, with another teacher replacing her during her absence.

Her four-strong group is the first private expedition by a team of Chinese women to attempt to scale Everest. Friends said she trained by climbing mountains in the Tibetan Plateau.

Before she left, Tsang said her goal was to prove to her pupils that dreams could come true through perseverance.

"I thought about it for a long time," she wrote in a blog post. "I could share my experiences with them only by recollecting events from my past ... But what were my own future goals in life? How would I best teach these pupils how to pursue their goals? I knew the most effective way was to accompany them all the way."