My phone alarm chirped and I was awake. I reached above and behind my head, pulled back the curtain and was greeted with beautiful blue sky and frosty potato fields. The adolescent yak standing outside my bedroom window when I turned in was still in the precise same place and position when I woke. I stared at it's eye until I saw a blink - it was real.
After a rudimentary wet wipe wake up wash I repacked my duffels and hauled them downstairs into the morning sun. The silence always stuns me. I sat for a moment watching the hazy outline of Ama Damlam slowly form as the mist burnt off. It's a truly peaceful place - a magical place to eat breakfast.
It suddenly became apparent that both of Phurba's twin 14 year old sons were going to join me on the trek to Bc! Phurba and I have done a number of climbs as a "solo" pair in the past so it was something of a privilege to accompany them on the first ever trek to BC! I couldn't quite believe it was their first. It is also hard for Westerners to understand quite what a right of passage this journey is - there was incense burnt and a holy man appeared like magic to bless their journey. My private conversations with the boys revealed their true, deep down excitement. They are the spitting image of their father - even their walk is the same.
The early sun was intense and the walk comfortably warm, the pace "medium" - we were in no great rush. Our two yaks carrying my duffels and communication equipment had left an hour before and there was no point arriving in Pheriche before them.
The trek was very familiar. I brought up the rear and left Tsering Sherpa, the guide, to set the pace. As the hours rolled by the path ascended, descended and traversed the mountains whilst cross crossing rivers over rickety cable tie bridges.
The impact of the earthquake was evident with vast swathes of various mountains having collapsed into the raging rivers below. Evidence of huge landslides dotted the landscape and we passed more than one collapsed bridge. All quite awe inspiring.
It soon became apparent that Phurba's sons were true chips off the old block. Their pace never faltered and there was not a squeak of complaint. They will clearly emulate their Herculean Father when they are not much older.
We stopped for a brief lunch of fried veggie rice at 12:30. Whilst tucking in an American chap came up to me uttering the fateful words "are you David Tait?"
It turned out he had seen the Discovery programmes and had remarkably recognised me. His first words were "I remember you climbing with Phurba Tashi in 2007"....- to which I replied "and these are his sons!". I wonder what the odds were of that happening.
We finally walked into Pheriche (4300m) 5 hours after setting off and I am now ensconced in a comfortably warm lodge for the night. One advantage of the earthquake seems to have been the effort to rebuild to a much higher standard. It's almost a unique experience to be properly warm in a Lodge!
Tomorrow we leave an hour after our yaks, bound for Lobuche Base Camp where Russ has established a camp. He has designated Lobuche Peak (6400m) as his "acclimatisation Peak" in order that his climbers don't have to negotiate the Khumbu Icefall more times than necessary. The rest of the team have been in country almost 2 weeks now trekking slowly to Bc. They will now be walking back down to Lobuche BC where I will likely hook up with them. It was my idea to rely on my experience and reduce my "in country" time.
We will arrive at Lobuche BC mid morning tomorrow and I am hoping to climb to Lobuche's "interim" camp straight after lunch with a view to summit Lobuche (6400m, weather permitting) the morning of the 15th. I plan to spend the night on the summit, fast forward my acclimatisation, descend the 16th morning and then trek to Everest BC (5400m) by the afternoon.
This is best called a "fast track" programme. If all works to plan and I have no ill effects this may open up some interesting possibilities over the next few weeks.
David SJ Tait MBE
3 St George's Place
team Tait arrive Pheriche.