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.
Dispatch 3 -
With our stomachs brim full of bullet hard toast and jam-flavored porridge we trudged slowly out of sleepy Monju and began our journey to Namsche bazaar. It was a beautiful morning - the bluest of blue skies, the lightest of frosts and the ever-present smoky mist. Our yaks jangle along close behind.
With the roaring blue rapids only meters to our left we negotiated the narrow river-plain path towards the final soaring cable bridge that leads to the notorious "Namsche hill'. In no great hurry, and deliberately going at "Ethan-pace', we eventually began the long, hot, torturous incline that leads eventually to this famous horseshoe shaped market town.
Porters, trekkers, climbers and yaks trudge painfully higher, in stark contrast to the comparatively bullet-fast descents of those going lower. The dusty path traverses back and forward through fragrant pines and blossoming bushes before pausing at a point where one can view Everest in the far distance. We joined the gaping throng, all frantically clicking away with cameras trained on the giant rock - a huge plume of spindrift spewing from the summit. It's windy up there!
A long hour later we trudged into Namsche [3500m] and searched out our Kala-Patar Lodge, our home for the night. This bustling town has grown considerably since my first visit and slowly but surely the horseshoe valley is becoming dotted with new cube-like building. Everything one sees, except for the granite the buildings are carved from is carried up on the backs of man and beast - quite a sobering thought. I sling our bags into our allotted rooms, unpack the sleeping bags and go wandering.
The narrow streets are lined with, as one might expect from a bazaar, a multitude of shops, internet-café's, bakeries and mini-supermarkets - there is even an ATM. Much of what is sold is counterfeit or copied, but occasionally one stumbles across the real thing; clothing sold for very much London prices. The knock-offs are cheaper, but unlikely to keep you warm at base camp - an amateur mistake. We elect to hit the bakery for sustenance and are duly rewarded.
The Kala-Patar lodge's food is first-rate and we all fall into bed early, weary from the days' exertions. We sleep like the dead.
Today, soon after lunch, we vacated and began the short but steep trek across the adjacent pass to the town of Khumjung [3900m] where we are due to spend 2 nights of further acclimatization. As we trudge higher we cross a rough airstrip hewn from the hill and surrounding scrubland. Huge Russian helicopters use this rudimentary runaway, being the halfway point between Lukla and BC, as a staging point for the bulk of the expedition equipment. Miserable yaks and porters take over from here. A huge, white painted Chorton on the crest of the saddle marks our welcome descent into Khumjung.
This town, much like Namsche, has grown a lot since I was first here. It's a lovely village, nestling in the shadow of Ama Dablam where Phurba Tashi, my colleague from the 2007 Traverse has his home and family. Indeed it's in Phurba's family home where we will spend two further nights - very much a case of "hurry up and wait".
Right now, we are all sitting in his lodge, constantly sipping the compulsory liquids [a must at altitude] and trying to entertain ourselves. Some play cards, some read, some chat and others [the more unsociable individuals] just type dispatches - whoops. There is no phone signal here - our first experience of "remote". I have to say its quite amusing watching people try and come to terms with the "cold-turkey" moment of being totally cut off - sometimes for the first time in years! Many reach for devices by habit, apparently willing a signal to appear. Others seem resigned to their boredom, but still stare at their phones forlornly. It seems a human-beings ability to just sit and enjoy the moment is becoming extinct.
Tomorrow, I plan to usher myself, and anyone else so inclined, up the mountain that backstops Phurba's house - the same mountain I have climbed on all of my previous visits - perhaps its superstition that drives me, but I figure why take a chance! I will only climb 5-600 vertical meters, to an ancient burial ground marked by prayer flags, but it will be enough to circulate my thickening blood, and if I choose to push, provide myself with a worthwhile workout. Perhaps I will act as a pied piper - we shall see.
With snow starting to fall but with our yak-dung stove providing a cozy, welcome heat its time to sign off.