The Everest Base Camp trek is arduous enough for fit people, but it can be even more difficult for someone over 70. And it is no mean feat if that person also wants to tee off at 5,100m in winter.
Harry Tan, a 71-year-old Singaporean possibly became the first person to tee off from three points below Mt Everest above 5,000m earlier this month.
A part-time physical education teacher at Nanyang Technical University and an avid golfer at the Seletar Golf Club in Singapore, Tan had come to Nepal in 2016 after the earthquake. His trekking partner, Raj Tamang, was himself raised in Singapore and is also a golfer.
“We got really excited about teeing off from high points during the trek, but did not realise how difficult it would be,” Tan recalls. This was a winter trek with the Khumbu Galcier so windy that the wind chill factor made conditions difficult. The high thin air also meant that the golf balls behaved differently.
After flying to Lukla and acclimatising in Namche and Ama Dablam Base Camp, the group proceeded up to Dingboche, where Tan decided to buy warmer feather mittens for the adventures ahead. “The gloves I brought from Singapore were not adequate for the job at hand,” he noted.
They waited out a blizzard on 13 December and then walked on to Pheriche and Lobuje.
The next day, they climbed to a ridge on the way to Gorakshep at 5,180m found a patch of flat ground and brought out a 3 Wood driver, rubber tee, and an ecobioball manufactured by Elbusgolf.
It was a complete whiteout when Harry did the first-ever 5000-meter tee off by a foreigner in Nepal. (The previous record was by Tamang himself.) They continued on the lateral moraine towards Gorakshep, had a quick lunch and left for Everest Base Camp. Trekkers there who were talking about a Singaporean with a golf club and were wondering what he was going to do with it got to see the swings for themselves.