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 - Phortse, 4th April 2013,
Some 200 meters along the trail I glanced back over my shoulder at Phurba's lodge wondering, as I always have done, whether I would ever be back. With a rueful grin I turned and faced today's challenge - a three-hour trek to Phortse, a small hamlet perched precariously atop a vast plateau, sadly, on the other side of the valley. The morning had dawned cold but by 9 am we were bathed in sunlight and stripped to t-shirts.
Yesterday had turned into a bit of an epic. After racing up and down the mountain that backstops Khumjung, I had decided that it was time to give myself a decent wash. Over the years Phurba's Lodge has added a number of improvements including a solar-powered electric shower. Sadly though, he positioned it next to the fragrant hole in the ground that constitutes the toilet. Whilst I shaved on a shelf outside our room, Vanessa used the loo and accidentally dropped her sunglasses down the "hole".
Owing to the fact that she didn't have a spare pair, and sunglasses are crucial at altitude, I elected to try and rescue them, which entailed plunging my hand into the foul recess and praying. Sadly "u" bends had not been employed and it appeared the glasses were lost forever. Trying not to gag, I set about trying to scrub the filth off my hand - and thought I had done a good job.
Minutes later dinner was served; potatoes, tinned tuna, coleslaw and pita-bread. No sooner had I swallowed the last mouthful, I started to feel "strange". Two hours later lunch revisited, and kept revisiting. I curled up in bed and prayed to everything I could that this horror would pass and not compromise me long-term. Luckily I awoke at 9pm, feeling normal and, to my relief, quite hungry - toast and jam followed. I slept through uninterrupted - phew. After years of hygiene paranoia I must have been insane for attempting the rescue.
Back to today - although we would all enjoy the relative ease of the long descent from Mong-La, through twisted pines down to the raging torrent on the valley floor, we were all too aware of the inevitable torturous climb thereafter.
I reflected on what had been an exhausting few hours after rising - typing, Internet, washing, feeding and watering V and the boys, packing four billowing down sleeping bags and four pillows into miniature crush-sacks, loading everyone's day-packs and kit-bags and finally lashing said kit-bags onto the waiting, unamused yaks.
Khumjung to Mong-La follows a spectacular, narrow path hacked into the hillside - the views are breathtaking and as I am following Ethan, my 9 year old at his pace, I am seeing them in a new light. - quite beautiful.
Finally, and a little before midday, we stepped onto the Phortse plateau and weaved our way through the piled-stone walls that hem the potato fields towards our destination for one night - the Phortse Guest House. Lunch was served immediately - Tuna, much to everyone's amusement.
As I sit typing, a strong wind is whipping up the powder-dry dust from the fields and throwing it against the lodges windows. Those of us whose kit bags have arrived are ensconced in down-coats and quite content. Those whose yaks seem to have got lost are shivering.
Tomorrow will be a much longer day than those we have become used to. Ethan will have to tighten his belt a bit and dig in - he's been a star so far - no complaints whatsoever. The desolate town of Pheriche [4240m] awaits us all tomorrow - quite a significant distance away and also noticeably higher. Two night are spent in this wind-tunnel settlement - two night too many!
It felt good, despite Phurba's hospitality, to be moving once again - BC and the start of my personal campaign is just that little bit closer than yesterday and Vanessa and the boy's final goal only three stops away - BC arrival scheduled for the 9th.
Then the work begins.
I would just like to take the opportunity [as I will many times] to thank all those who have donated to my cause, and encourage those in two minds to make the leap. All the money I raise goes directly to the children who need it - nothing comes to me as all my expeditions are and have been self-funded. Simply spreading the word help - as awareness of these daily crimes against nature is one method of combat. I appreciate all everyone has done in this regard.