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.
Pheriche to Lobouche 7th-8th April 2013.
No one visited me during the night. Both the boys survived the dark without hitting the emergency button. Seth, [tonsillitis] slept in solitary confinement, however, seeing as its most teenager's status quo to lie prostrate and inert for multiple hours watching iPad movies and reading, he seems more than a little happy! Ethan usurped me and slept next to Vanessa; his constant nausea preventing him from ingesting anything, liquid or solid for the previous 12 hours. I retired to a tiny cot on the Sherpa "wing", where, truth be told, I had the most luxurious sleep.
Ethan awoke nauseous, but we decided to "nudge" him into walking the three hours to Lobouche BC [4865m] and try and recover his strength at a greater altitude rather than sit for another day at Pheriche [4300m]. If we had allowed him to languish in "Dodge-City" the eventual 1000m ascent to BC would have been too arduous.
With a bitter wind at our backs we set off across the boulder strewn river plain at little more than a snails-pace - our priority to get Ethan to Lobouche on one piece.
The stunning beauty of the surrounding curtain of vast peaks can be easily missed if one allows the trance-like trudge and constant "boot-stare" to dominate. I have [somewhat embarrassingly] been very destination focused on previous expeditions, always testing my pace. With my obligation to trudge today at ½ Ethan pace, I have done little else but look around. And Wow!
Suddenly I heard "David"! Startled, I turned to find a couple of familiar faces from Worcester's Tudor Grange Academy, a school who kindly asked me to visit and speak to over recent years. At the top of the final painstaking climb preceding Lobouche and surrounded by an army of Chortons marking the passing of previously unlucky mountaineers, we congregated for a "team photo". It's a very small world!
Finally in camp, and with the family ordered to sit dead still and drink, I set about unpacking our three kit-bags, stocking out four separate tents and transferring a now completely asleep Ethan into the warmth of his sleeping bag. Thankfully, three hours of oblivion seems to have broken the back of his upset stomach and his appetite for playing cards is restored. I have to say I am mightily relieved as the nausea was preventing him hydrating - a condition that would have quashed his BC ambitions.
Our camp sits in the shadow of beautiful Lobouche Peak [6250m], the upper snowy third already tracked by the boots of some hardy souls keen to summit. Our miniature sleeping pods surround 3 larger communal tents - mess, cooking and storage. Offset from the group stand the toilets - a true pleasure to visit.
My altimeter currently reads 4855m - very much a new high for the boys. A day of rest beckons, during which my priority is to get to grips with my BGAN, gifted to me for the duration of the expedition by SAFA Telecom - thank you! There are no more lodges and Wi-Fi to fall back on any more, and without a decent upload rate my video ambitions are likely to be thwarted. Tweaking continues.
It's 09:30 and I am sitting on a huge boulder, a little outside and above camp, with Ethan dozing in the sun to my right - a truly spectacular place to type. However, the katabatic winds will soon make themselves felt, and we will be forced to find sanctuary in the mess tents for the long afternoon. The inevitable clouds with gather by mid-afternoon and the temperature sure to plummet.
Both boys, much to my relief, are feeling better today - just in time, because tomorrow, soon after breakfast we begin the final leg of the trek to BC. We will ascend only another 3-400m, but even this slight leap will be telling on their bodies. However, they will be fulfilling an ambition - and I'm sure will find just that little extra spring in their step.
As I secured the boys in their cozy sleeping bags last night, with ice already forming inside their tent, Seth asked "How the hell do you go through this for 2 months?"
The countdown to their dreaded departure begins. Just 72 hours.
Tomorrow - BC.