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 I. 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.
Everest Base Camp 5250m, 11th April 2013.
My family left this morning.
We struggled from our sleeping bags into a bitterly cold dawn. The previous evening's snow and warming cloud cover had passed leaving clear skies and an overnight low temperature of -15 degrees. Low enough to make the short journey from camp to the helipad torture, not least for 9-year old Ethan who was feeling very ill and on his last-legs.
We had been assured by the Katmandu Helicopter Company that the aircraft would be with us soon after 07:15, but in typical Nepali style, if finally clattered into view at the foot of the valley an hour late. This wouldn't have been too much of a problem were it not for the extreme cold.
Before very long poor Ethan had vomited. His toes were also so cold I removed his boots and thrust his little feet into my armpits. We sat like this for an age as people remonstrated with the Company, eventually to be told that the chopper had just passed Pheriche, no more than 5 minutes flying time away - we could hear its distant hum.
We crouched as the very talented pilot hung the craft in the air simply feet above the rock and snow pad, its monstrous rotor wash lifting ice crystals and blasting our faces so violently it was impossible to breath. He settled the skids and in moments Vanessa and the boys were climbing aboard, followed by just one of our kit bags. Suddenly the pilot turned in his seat and gestured for Seth, by far the heaviest aboard to disembark. In his place was thrust the second of our kit bags. Seth ran crouching to me and the choppers engine once again spooled up and began to scream.
The craft hovered and then pivoted beautifully on its axis, its nose now pointing down the valley from whence it came. It lurched forward picking up airspeed and suddenly the noise and gale was gone. The evacuation plan had been altered - Vanessa, Ethan and the bags would be dropped temporarily in Pheriche, while the pilot returned and collected Seth. Then, once back in Pheriche [1000m lower than BC], his B3 Helicopter would have the lifting/weight capacity to haul the family as one, first to Lukla to refuel and lastly into the arms of Kathmandu and the Hyatt Hotel.
Suddenly they were gone and I was alone. It was an awful moment. Intensely emotional - the rest of the morning was lost to me.
I now sit at BC and contemplate the weeks ahead. This is the first true day of the Everest expedition - the last 10 days have been a luxury I have never before been afforded - I am so very lucky to have been able to share just a little of what life is like on the mountain with those I love - their support and understanding is crucial to me.
After a few days welcome rest, we will return to Lobouche BC and climb to the summit of Lobouche Peak [6200m]. We use Lobouche as a safer alternative to crossing swords with the Khumbu icefall. This horror of nature has already claimed its first 2013 victim - an "ice doctor", one of the courageous group of Sherpas who daily brave this unpredictable ice, forcing and maintaining a route for the climbing expeditions, was killed close to Camp 1. He fell into a 45m crevasse. My condolences to his family.