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.
Phortse - Pheriche [4300m], 5-6th April 2013.
Straight up. There was no alternative way to exit sleepy Phortse and still be heading towards our intended destination Pheriche, [the next stop on our journey to BC] than straight up the steep, hill that flanked this picturesque village. It's never a pleasant way to starts ones trekking day than launching into a full-blooded lung-buster from the off - but sadly we had no alternative.
Without a cloud in the sky and the suns warmth embracing us, we edged our way up the zig-zag tracked hill towards a snow-white, flag adorned Chorton that marked the zenith. Beyond, meandering through the spectacular valley below, lay the path followed by all expeditions and trekkers en-route to BC. Across the valley sat Tengboche, notable for its monastery and [more importantly] its somewhat incongruous but high quality bakery. Unfortunately our route was to skirt this tasty town.
The dusty and sometimes extremely exposed path led us first to the town of Mong-La [coffee/coconut biscuits], Pangboche [coffee/coconut biscuits], past Orcha [where we were due to eat lunch but were crowded out by trekkers - hence Pringles/coconut biscuits] and finally into Pheriche [4310m] 6 long hours after setting off. Six exceptionally long hours for my 9 year old who had to survive without a proper lunch.
Pheriche sits, frontier-town like, at the foot of an escarpment on the edge of a river plain. Bordered on two sides by mountains, it essentially sits in a natural wind tunnel; fine when the sun beats down, but extremely hostile when in the shade. People huddle around the dung-stove of an evening, the heat given off not capable of competing with the heat-leeching effects of the wind on the shanty-like lodge building. For the first time in the trek, climbers are unashamedly donning down clothing.
Sadly Seth  has contracted tonsillitis. He arrived in Pheriche yesterday afternoon and soon became ill, skipping dinner, and reacquainting himself with his lunch! I thought his enthusiastic trekking pace had got the better of him at first, prompting a slight physical rebellion [perhaps even a little altitude sickness] but after a rough night the doctor has confirmed his tonsils are to blame. He is now in solitary confinement!
Ethan, likewise, is suffering today - I would have been surprised if he hadn't. Luckily he isn't afflicted with headaches [which would have been typical], instead suffering from an upset stomach. I am certain all these ailments have been induced by the combination of altitude and hyper-exertion. Fortunately, today is a "sit still" day, and we are hopeful they will be back to "ramming-speed" tomorrow for the penultimate leg of the trip.
The two young boys are not the only members of the party under the weather. A simple glance can reveal an individuals' state of body and mind - lethargy and the 1000-yard stare gives a lot away. Most suffer from gastro problems - the unpleasant constipation/diahhorea/constipation merry go round that one struggles to jump off. At first, such paranoid/preventive actions as smearing the mouth area of a can of coke with germ-killing hand gel [that I always do] elicits sniggers - but 48 hours of vomiting and/or running for the toilet turns even the most cynical into hard-core believers.
I sit here in the small courtyard of our lodge typing this dispatch, with the sun beating down and charging my myriad batteries. In the distance, [tomorrow's route] lay quite stunning mountains. A fine layer of dust constantly settles on both my equipment and I - a reminder that I have to care for the electronics as I would a newborn babe or fall silent.
Tomorrow, all being well, we trek 3-4 hours to Lobouche Base Camp [4700m], where we spend two-night under canvas [nylon]. It is on Lobouche's summit [6150m] that, at a later date, we spend 2-3 night acclimatizing. Being the rough equivalent altitude of Everest C2 [ABC], Lobouche summit affords us the opportunity of stressing our blood composition without unnecessarily exposing ourselves to the dangers of the Khumbu icefall. But that's for later.
Our two-night stop will be the first experience of truly cold nights - the likes of which have not been experienced by the remainder of Team Tait! The boys are excited - but I suspect the relative luxury of even this rudimentary Pheriche Lodge will soon seem very distant. Only four days until I wave them goodbye.
Lunch approaches - let's hope it isn't Tuna.
More later -