My name is David Tait - I'm an NSPCC Trustee and 'charity mountaineer' having now successfully climbed Mount Everest four times - in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. I climb to raise both awareness and money for the many violated kids - one of which was me. This is my first of many dispatches that will accompany my effort to summit for the fifth time. I hope you follow along, find it interesting, and spread the word. There are many children in our society who know only too well that monsters truly do exist.
Khumjung [3850m] 3rd April.
Well this is not too far from paradise - at least not for me. I, and I suspect many are not too far from despair at the simple mundane nature of everyday existence, but the tranquility I feel [at least for the first few days!] after arriving here redresses the balance. It becomes increasingly difficult to believe that the world you only left days ago is still as you left it. There is a feeling that your "real" life is simply paused - Sky+ style, ready to be continued only upon your return. I have to admit that my peculiar mind feels untroubled in this remote but welcoming mountain world - I am drawn here.
I'm first awake - its very cold, the bare soil fields outside the icy glass of the Khumjung Lodge are frosted white as the sun begins its ascent, still masked by the surrounding mountains. To my right in the distance stand the chisel like peak of Ama Dablam, free of its certain afternoon cloudy cloak. One day that stunning peak will be mine. A porter carrying loads that many of us would fail to even lift off the ground, let alone carry for many miles occasionally crosses the dusty dirt square. However, load x distance x speed = food for his family. We don't realize quite how lucky we are.
The plywood floorboards above me are starting to creak and groan and people haul themselves into consciousness, and with admirable commitment, reach for the crusty, semi frozen wet-wipes. They will all eventually be perched around me sipping their early morning brews, some more relieved than others that dawn has arrived - to be able to sleep undisturbed at altitude is a blessing not bestowed on all. All are well - so far.
Having Vanessa my wife and my sons along for the BC trek has been on the one hand a wonderful distraction from the usual [hated] solitude, but it has also been a worry as I struggle to keep tabs on all the [apparently] trivial things that will make their trip a "pleasure". The logistics are hard enough for one, but for a group it's a challenge. However, all are well, and putting up with my hygiene paranoia - however over the years I've seen at first-hand the ravaging effects of water-borne germs. One mistake by my 9 year-old Ethan when he cleans his teeth and the whole group will be waving me a sad goodbye. They get it, but comfortable Esher habits are a struggle to shrug off.
All being well, we should all tramp into BC on the 10th April and after only two chilly nights in a tent, they will all lift off from the BC helipad on the morning of the 12th. Even now I find that thought uncomfortable. However, to have shown them a little of "my world" and let them experience the misery of altitude will have been a joy. I'm sure they will all be more than ready to leave on the 12th - but I will struggle to wave goodbye. It will then be up to me to get on with it. Perhaps the rigors of trekking to BC will make them all a little more sympathetic when I gripe about the effort expended on the mountain - but then that is entirely my choice!
The sun continues to climb, casting warming rays through the window onto my back and now scrummy smells are seeping from the kitchen where the Sherpas cobble together this morning's breakfast. Time to go and prise my reluctant family from their sleeping bags and shove them into the day.
Today, we climb.