A school teacher who cheated death in a previous bid to scale Mount Everest has become the first Hong Kong woman to conquer the world’s highest peak at the third attempt.
Ada Tsang Yin-hung, 40, reached the summit with fellow Hongkonger Elton Ng, a physiotherapist, and Zhang Jianguo, an amateur mountaineer from Jiangsu province at 6am on Sunday with the help of two Sherpa guides.
The feat is the culmination of seven years of training and harrowing experiences that the former life education teacher at a secondary school in Ma On Shan has under her belt.
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Tsang has said that one of the key motivating factors in her pursuit of mountaineering’s biggest prize was to lead by example and inspire her students with a lesson from outside the classroom.
News of her success was first announced on social media by Mingma Sherpa, the first Nepali and first South Asian to scale all 14 of the world’s highest mountains: “Mrs Tsang Yin-hung officially registered her name as the first Hong Kong lady to the top of Everest,” he said.
“Very happy to hear [that] Ada made her summit of Everest today at 6am local time. This is her third Everest attempt. She made her first attempts in 2014 and 2015 but returned home empty-handed. Congratulations.”
By Sunday night (Hong Kong time) the team had reached Camp 4, about one-quarter of the way back down the mountain.
Earlier, on her blog, Tsang had said: “For students, every dream seems so far away and words of encouragement are not enough to conquer the frustration of failed attempts. Many would easily give up their dreams ... a dream is not defined by the way you think of it, but by the actual efforts you put in.
“I could share my experiences with them only by recollecting events from my past … But what are my own future goals in life? How will I best teach these students how to pursue their goals?”
The former secondary teacher decided to quit her job and give her pupils a “life lesson” by becoming the first Hong Kong woman to reach the summit of the 8,848-metre Mount Everest.
Tsang made her first attempt in 2014 but was forced to abandon her trek after an avalanche near the base camp killed 16 Nepali Sherpa guides, leading to the suspension of all expeditions that season.
She returned to the Himalayas the next year. This time she was caught up in an avalanche triggered by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that killed 17 climbers and left Tsang with a fractured skull.
News of her achievement sparked fanfare on social media.
“Congratulations on Ms Tsang’s success in making it to the top of Mount Everest! Her spirit of rising to challenges is worth learning for all students,” the city’s education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim wrote on his official Facebook page.
“Ms Tsang made it! It is our turn to work hard, isn’t it? Hope Ms Tsang returns to the base camp safely,” her former students said in a Facebook post.
Another user said: “Salute to your perseverance over all these years! Proud of you being the first lady on top of Everest. Safe trip home!”
Illustrating the dangers the team faced, an American climber died on the mountain on Sunday, the third death in the past month.
Roland Yearwood, 50, from Alabama, perished at an altitude of about 8,400 metres in an area called the “death zone” known for its thin air, Murari Sharma of the Everest Parivas trekking company that sponsored his climb said.
A day earlier a 26-year-old Indian climber, Ravi Kumar, disappeared in the same area during his descent from the peak.