Published on 21 Jul 2023

Conquering Everest

Jeremy Tong

Jeremy Tong
BSc in Sports Science and Management
NIE Class of 2016

NIE NTU, Singapore alumnus Jeremy Tong recounts his epic ascent to the world’s tallest peak, and how the experience has influenced his outlook on patience, persistence and mental power.

Jeremy Tong, who graduated with a BSc in Sports Science and Management in 2016, has been in the news. The 29-year-old adventure consultant had successfully scaled Mount Everest on the morning of 22 May 2019, doing Singapore and NIE proud two years after a failed attempt in 2017 due to hypothermia.

“Although I’ve been climbing since I was 14, I only started to dream about Mount Everest after summiting the 7,000m Lenin Peak in Kyrgyzstan in 2015. A challenge like this requires a great deal of commitment – not only in terms of the planning and coordination, but also the two years it has taken to secure the sponsorships and another three months spent on intensive training,” Jeremy shared.

According to him, the second attempt at Mount Everest brought with it new challenges. “The fear of failure was something I had to overcome, especially as we approached the south summit at 8,700m where I turned around two years ago. Fear is inherent in everyone – and the experience has taught me that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. This, and the three P’s of the expedition – pace, patience and power of mind over matter – was what kept us going in the end,” he added.

There were definitely times when Jeremy had been tempted to give up. Having to balance family, work commitments and sponsorships while planning for the expedition caused him to confront his priorities. “I kept asking myself whether I really wanted to go back and I did. So I kept reaching out to sponsors even though it was already late 2018 and I only managed to raise a quarter of the funds required to return to Everest,” said Jeremy, recounting the mental anguish.

On the physical front, the journey uphill represented just half of the battle. Jeremy confessed that there were no summit cheers when he got to the top. “Rather, we were just relieved to have reached the 50% mark and the first thing that crossed my mind was ‘Let's not spend too long here!’” he recalled with a laugh.

When asked if he’s ever felt that the challenges of an educator might be akin to his experiences at Mount Everest, Jeremy replied, “Sometimes you’ve got to believe in the things you’re saying before you can convince your students. This time around, even though I was afraid to fail, I had to dig deep into my experience in 2017 and muster the confidence to face my fears. I had to believe that I was going to summit Mount Everest, even before I took the first step,” he shared.

On a softer note, Jeremy revealed yet another important lesson for teachers: “Be patient with people with less experience or are slower in their processes. During this trip, I encountered two climbers – one on the way up and the other on the way down – who were extremely slow and jamming up the entire route. I believe there are moments where educators might feel the same way. My advice is to be patient – with yourself and with those who require your help. This may sound a bit cliché, but no dream is ever too big. Keep practicing and stay persistent in your approach. Don’t just settle for contentment – be grateful for life. Be uncomfortable!

“Remember, there are no shortcuts to the top of Everest. It has taken almost 15 years since I climbed my first mountain before I stood on the summit of Everest. If you want it as much as the air that you breathe, you will be successful,” said Jeremy, with deep personal satisfaction.

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