SUR­VIVAL IS MORE THAN JUST STAY­ING ALIVE THE WIL­LIAM PIKE STORY

Adventure - - Adventure//Profile>> - by mead nor­ton

Wil­liam Pike was your typ­i­cal ad­ven­tur­ous young out­doors­man. He got into the out­doors when he was in High school through his school’s out­door ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram. Once he got his li­cence and a car he started do­ing longer tramps in the Waitakere Ranges as he got older. When he was at univer­sity, he saved his pen­nies to buy proper out­door gear so that he could safely take on big­ger ad­ven­tures. At 20, he sum­mited Mt. Ton­gariro in win­ter for the first time and since then he has climbed most of the peaks in the Cen­tral North Is­land. Wil­liam and his friend James christie de­cided to climb Mt. Ruapehu in late Septem­ber 2007, which ended up chang­ing his life for­ever. It was James first trip to Mt. Ruapehu and his first time climb­ing in the snow. The climb to the sum­mit of Mt. Ruapehu took them longer than ex­pected, so on the way down they de­cided it was too late to pitch a camp or dig a snow cave. In­stead, they choose to camp inside the dome shel­ter near crater lake, even though it is not de­signed to be used as an overnight shel­ter. That one de­ci­sion saved both their lives when the vol­cano sud­denly erupted with­out warn­ing that night. If they had been camp­ing out­side the hut, the shock wave from the erup­tion would have blown them off the moun­tain or they would have been swept away by the la­har and rocks slide that was trig­gered by the erup­tion. Wil­liam be­came trapped inside the hut by a la­har of mud, wa­ter and de­bris that smashed through the hut and slammed him against the hut’s far wall, be­fore hard­en­ing around him trap­ping him and his crushed leg inside the ru­ined hut un­able to es­cape which led to his leg need­ing to be am­pu­tated be­low the knee.

For­tu­nately, James was not in­jured or trapped by the la­har and was able to dig out his boots, Wil­liam’s jacket, and one ice axe, but he was un­able to find ei­ther his or Wil­liam’s cram­pons. Af­ter about 15 min­utes of try­ing to free Wil­liam, they as­sessed the situation and re­alised that Wil­liam’s only chance of sur­viv­ing was for James to go get help. So Wil­liam gave the in­ex­pe­ri­enced James in­struc­tions on how to get back down the moun­tain to find help and set into wait for help to ar­rive. James wrapped Wil­liam in the re­mains of his sleep­ing bag and other spare clothes he could find and headed off into the night. When James left, Wil­liam was not sure he was go­ing to sur­vive and asked his friend "Please tell my fam­ily and friends that I love them”.

"Nah, mate," James replied, "You can tell them your­self." which was prob­a­bly one of the best things James could have said to him, be­cause it gave Wil­liam a lit­tle ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion to stay alive.

While Wil­liam waited alone, he tried to keep him­self as warm as pos­si­ble and just fo­cused on stay­ing awake for as long as pos­si­ble. James even­tu­ally found a Snow­cat driver about half way down the moun­tain who was able to raise the alarm and the moun­tain res­cue team reached Wil­liam at about 1am and he was ex­tremely hy­pother­mic and his body tem­per­a­ture was only 25 de­grees cel­sius. It was a mir­a­cle that he sur­vived.

Some of the things that both Wil­liam and James both did that en­abled them to sur­vive the ac­ci­dent were reg­is­ter­ing their in­ten­tions with doc (which was the prac­tice at the time, but DOC no longer reg­is­ters peo­ple’s in­ten­tions any­more) and leav­ing a de­tailed plan with fam­ily mem­bers be­fore leav­ing, so peo­ple would have gone look­ing for them if Wil­liam had just been trapped in the hut and not crit­i­cally in­jured. Also by hav­ing ba­sic 1st aid knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence climb­ing and camp­ing in win­ter in an alpine en­vi­ron­ment Wil­liam was able to recog­nise that he needed im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion and was able to treat his in­juries the best he could, given the cir­cum­stances, which helped keep him just warm enough to sur­vive. The fact that nei­ther Wil­liam nor James pan­icked also en­abled them to as­sess the situation and make a plan. If he or James had pan­icked he would not have been able to give James in­struc­tions on how to best find help and James would not have been able to get help to his friend quick enough to save his life. Wil­liam also cred­its his sheer de­sire to sur­vive as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in his sur­vival.

“When James left, Wil­liam was not sure he was go­ing to sur­vive and asked his friend “Please tell my fam­ily and friends that I love them.”

in the wake of his ac­ci­dent, it took him a long time to fully re­cover from his in­juries and spent a long time re­learn­ing how to walk. It was through “sheer bloody-mind­ed­ness, grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion” that Wil­liam was able to re­turn to and also climb the moun­tain that took his leg. Though to this day look­ing back, there is not a sin­gle thing that he would have done dif­fer­ently given the con­di­tions that he was pre­sented with at the time.

So many times you hear about ac­ci­dents and tragedies in the moun­tains and when ex­perts in­ves­ti­gate the de­ci­sions lead­ing to the ac­ci­dent, they can usu­ally find a few de­ci­sions made that led to the ac­ci­dent hap­pen­ing, but in this case, they did ev­ery­thing right. The one thing that has changed for him is that now when­ever he is head­ing out into the wilder­ness he al­ways has an epirb with him as a last re­sort in­surance pol­icy.

When he first got into the out­doors, one of the re­sources he turned to learn more about his new hobby was the new Zealand moun­tain Safety Coun­cil. In fact a copy of the nZ moun­tain safety coun­cil’s bushcraft man­ual has a per­ma­nent place next to his bed that he reads as he dreams up new ad­ven­tures to go on. The Moun­tain Safety Coun­cil has a va­ri­ety of other re­sources avail­able to help ed­u­cate any­one look­ing to go out in out­doors.

in re­cent years the moun­tain safety Coun­cil has seen a sig­nif­i­cant rise in front coun­try trips (day tramps or shorter) high­light­ing the change in over­all use of the out­doors in NZ. back­coun­try use - multi-day tramps and overnight stays in re­mote huts – have stayed rel­a­tively sta­ble na­tion­ally, with a few ar­eas de­clin­ing in over­all num­bers.”

a lack of ad­her­ence to sim­ple safety guide­lines as out­lined in the out­door Safety Code have seen a rise in res­cues where lack of prepa­ra­tion and equip­ment have played fac­tor in their need for res­cue. This trend ap­pears to be linked to a com­bi­na­tion of a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence, poor sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, seek­ing out and fol­low­ing safety guide­lines and im­proper gear for the con­di­tions.” Which is partly why Wil­liam started the Wil­liam pike chal­lenge award (WPCA). The WPCA pro­vides teach­ers, lead­ers and com­mu­nity groups with sup­port, re­sources and mo­ti­va­tion to fa­cil­i­tate youth devel­op­ment and Ed­u­ca­tion out­side the class­room for year 7- 9 stu­dents. Pupils, nick­named Pikelets, par­tic­i­pate in eight out­door ac­tiv­i­ties lead by the school dur­ing the year, as well as com­plet­ing 20 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice and de­vel­op­ing a new sport or hobby. last year, 48 schools par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gramme, in­clud­ing one in­ter­na­tional school in south Korea, with about 1050 pupils en­rolled and this year, he hopes to run it in 60+ schools this year, en­rolling more than 1600 stu­dents.

Wil­liam’s ad­vice on stay­ing safe in the wilder­ness is to fol­low to fol­low the moun­tain safety code when­ever you are head­ing out­doors and to get the proper train­ing for what­ever ad­ven­ture you are go­ing on by join­ing a lo­cal tramp­ing club or team­ing up with a part­ner who is more ex­pe­ri­enced than your­self. He also firmly be­lieves that even when you have a plan care­fully mapped

out, you still have to be flex­i­ble with your plan based on the weather and con­di­tions you find your­self in. be sure to get the proper train­ing for what­ever level of ad­ven­ture you are tak­ing on by ei­ther join­ing a lo­cal tramp­ing club or go­ing out with a part­ner who is more ex­pe­ri­enced than your­self in the con­di­tions and Af­ter all, if he had not been flex­i­ble about where they were go­ing to spend the night on the moun­tain, they both would have not sur­vived.

“A lack of ad­her­ence to sim­ple safety guide­lines as out­lined in the Out­door Safety Code have seen a rise in res­cues where lack of prepa­ra­tion and equip­ment have played fac­tor in their need for res­cue. ”

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