NEWSLETTERS - Everest South 2013

Newsletter #56 April 2013

Base Camp Set Up and Waiting for its Dwellers

While our two groups are trekking up the Khumbu to reach base camp in a few days, the Himex Sherpas have finished setting up our temporary home for the next seven weeks. According to reports from base camp, it is cold and snowy, which bodes well for a better season compared to the warm weather of 2012. "Our Sherpas said Everest felt more 'normal' this year. They have to wrap up warmly whereas they were working in T-shirts this time last year," Russell said.

The (in)famous Swiss-made 'White Pod', the common room equipped with sofas, a bar, a flat screen TV and a Scalextric car racing set, has already gone up just waiting for our members to come in and get comfortable. Furthermore there will be separate toilet tents for men and women, a shower tent, a store tent, several dining tents and of course the kitchen tent, where our head chef Lacchu and his team will share the pots and pans with Bob, who will be joining them from Chamonix this year. There will also be a whole Sherpa quarter, where Lhakpa Wangchu will be cooking for our hardworking staff making sure they have enough fuel to do their demanding job of carrying heavy loads, fixing the ropes, setting up and equipping all the camps and accompanying the members to the summit.

Reports from base camp have also come in saying that the rope had been fixed all the way to Camp 2, which is great news as the Sherpas, who are working together from different teams, will then have enough time and strength to concentrate on the higher and more difficult sections, such as the Lhotse Face, Yellow Band, Hillary Step and of course the summit ridge.

In the meantime, our Everest trekking group is spending a rest day in Pheriche, where they visited the high altitude lecture at the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) on Friday. On Sunday, they will crack on to Lobuje base camp, where our long-time cook Kul Bahadur and Dawa Tamang will welcome them with a hearty meal. They will spoil the members’ taste buds for yet another day before they go on their final schlep via Gorak Shep, the last village, to finally reach base camp at 5,350m (17,598 ft).

The Lhotse and Nuptse teams are not far behind. They are due to arrive in Pheriche on Sunday and, like their Everest colleagues, will also stay for two nights there. But soon the teams will be reunited at base camp, where they can finally settle down, unpack their bags and make their tents their home for the next seven weeks.

Until they get there, I would like to continue with our 'Meet the Team' series. Today, I would like to introduce a very well known Himex member and Everest aficionado: David Tait.

Billi Bierling in Kathmandu

David TaitMost of our readers will certainly have come across this name before, which is not surprising as David has stood on the top of Everest five times so far. The 51-year-old investment banker from Surrey in the UK is coming back this year to raise yet more funds for the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), for which he is a board member. Being an abused child himself, David is using his passion for Mount Everest to raise millions of dollars for the charity, which is very close to his heart. For the first time this year, David’s family is accompanying him to base camp. Whether or not this will be his last time on the 'Big E' remains to be seen. Watch the space!

1) How did you first come across Everest and who/what inspired you to climb it?
Everest has become the last/latest in a long list of various vehicles I've used to raise money for my charity. I admit the first time was more about my personal ambition than trying to benefit the fundraising, but now it’s simply an 'attention getter'. I had always wanted to climb it - as a personal challenge, but once I was done, I had to continue using it because first of all, it always captures imagination, and second, no one in the real world knows the name of any other mountain. It's the Big E or it’s nothing.

2) How did you prepare for this expedition (physically/mentally)?
I spent hundreds of hours in the gym, doing aerobic and anaerobic training, which I started perhaps six to eight months ago. Mental/physical is all one thing to me. The training has to be so hard that it goes beyond the physical.

3) What do you think you will miss most on this trip?
Family and the quiet comfort of my study.

4) State a regular habit (daily/weekly) of yours and how do you think you will be able to pursue it on this trip? If not, do you have any alternatives?
Reading - my kindle is fully stocked - I (accidentally) carried it to the summit in 2011.

5) Any luxury items you are bringing on this expedition? If so, what?
Pillows and my very expensive sleeping bag, which I undoubtedly will give to the Sherpas again at the end.

6) What will you carry to the summit?
One flag combo - celebrating the Queens jubilee and the NSPCC (she is the patron), as well as a Union Jack. And, of course, my sat phone!