But then John Tsang is nothing if not a survivor. His perseverance has paid off and the company is now stable. His challenge now, and he is confident he can pull it off, is to strike a proper balance between his mountain climbing dreams, his career, and his family.
“As my wife knows she cannot control what I am going to do, she instead supports me along the way,” he says. Tsang and his wife have a 10-year-old son, but he does not believe you should give up your dreams when you become a parent. “They [dreams] are indispensable. Stop mountain climbing? No way!” he says.
He is also keen to share his love of mountain climbing with those closest to him. The family has a goal of going on a hiking trip together at least once a year. This summer, they went to Yushan in Taiwan but were forced to return when they were only halfway up the mountain because of a typhoon.
He recalls that his son asked him if he was tired. “If you are well-trained, you will be fine,” Tsang told him.
What he wanted his son to know was that in order to be strong, his father trained and exercised hard every day. It is not that he necessarily wants his son to follow in his footsteps, it is more that he wants to teach him about how to live.
“The hardest time comes right before the moment of success,” Tsang tells his son. “Whenever you have reached a certain place, you can always take another step forward. It is like rolling a snowball. You have no limits at all.”
Tsang says he finds resonance in the words of Diana Nyad, an American swimmer who swam from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64: “We should never, ever give up” and “You are never too old to chase your dreams”.
At 41, Tsang is far from old. He is still going on mountain expeditions once or twice a year, depending on seasonal conditions. For the Himalayas, the suitable period is from April to May, and September to October. As for his next adventure, Tsang is already planning to conquer another Himalayan giant, Mount Lhotse in early April next year.
“Make challenge your habit,” he says.