First Of: Joanne Soo & Jane Lee

The first women in Southeast Asia to potentially conquer K2.

First Of: Joanne Soo & Jane Lee

In June 2020, Jane Lee and Joanne Soo will travel to Pakistan, where they will work their way up K2. The world’s second tallest mountain, which stands at 8,611m above sea level, has been described as more demanding than Mount Everest.

For two months, the duo will endeavour to overcome K2’s steep ice-and-limestone terrain as well as unpredictable weather conditions. If they make it to the top, they will become the first women in Southeast Asia (and among fewer than 30 in the world) to do so.

Jane, 35, and Joanne, 49, were part of the Singapore Women’s Everest Team that successfully summitted in 2009.    

“K2 has always been on the backburner as the ultimate climbing challenge,” shares Jane, a management consultant who’s also completed the Seven Summits and skiied 560km west to east across Greenland.

Jane Lee on the summit of Mount Everest

To achieve this goal, she reached out to Joanne, who owns an adventure race and travel company. “Her level-headedness and experience will help balance my tendencies to get overly excited or impatient. This is essential for climbs because sometimes, it’s just wiser to wait it out or even turn back.”

The women spend three to four times a week training, focusing on building up fitness through running, stairclimbing, and working out at the gym. They are also embarking on several climbing and trekking expeditions as part of the preparations.

Although having scaled Mount Everest and Cho Oyu makes her feel more prepared for the challenges of K2, Joanne says she intends to “train much harder”. She’s especially more deliberate and conscious about preparing psychologically because “it’s back to fearing the unknown just like [when I was preparing for] Everest”.

The ladies hope to use their feat to spread the word about continually redefining one’s boundaries and taking on new challenges. As Joanne points out, “When I climbed Mount Everest, one of my objectives was to encourage others to lead an active lifestyle. Now I want to build on this by encouraging them to stay active. It’s tough to exercise every day because everyone’s so busy with work and family but we will get there, one step at a time.”  

For more on trailblazing leaders, read our series on alphas here.

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