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Outdoor adventures with William Pike this MARCH!

William is a well-known Shore identity, a sought-after motivational speaker and an accessible role model to New Zealand youth. He was one of two young climbers caught in a volcanic eruption on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu in 2007. William is passionate about the outdoors and education and has worked as a primary school teacher on the North Shore. However, an exit from teaching has seen William set up the William Pike Challenge Award which is a popular Intermediate and Middle School outdoor education programme run over one school year. He is a monthly columnist for Channel Magazine.

What gets you out of bed?

I was so warm and snug in my sleeping bag when the alarm went off at 4.30am. The air temperature would have been around -10°C and my nostrils were stinging with each breath. I was very reluctant to get out of my sleeping bag. Kneeling at the tent entrance and reaching outside to grab my boot, I wasn’t surprised to find it well frozen. I should have kept it in my sleeping bag, along with my prosthetic leg. I slowly brought myself to life and stood upright in a cold boot, warm socket and scanned the ice with my headlamp. Looking skywards I was greeted by a few billion bright stars. Getting out of bed was already worth it.

As my mates and I left our tent and forged up the side of Mt. Ngauruhoe, our world was quiet and beautiful. We kept plugging away for over an hour until I saw a good photo opportunity, at least half way up the mountain. I steadied myself on the 45 degree icy slope, felt my crampons slip a little on the bullet-proof ice and took my pack off to reach my camera and tri-pod. I ignored a comment from someone suggesting I double check to see if the shoulder strap of my pack was secure around my ice axe which was now hammered into the ice. I took photos of the breath-taking environment that lay below. I reached for my bag to re-pack the camera gear and it was gone. The damn thing must have jumped off my ice axe all by itself. Silently and effortlessly it slid away into the darkness and to the bottom of the
mountain. Bugger!
All my essential gear (including sunglasses/goggles) was gone and in less than an hour I knew I would find it difficult to see with the sun’s reflection bouncing off the blue ice and into my eyes. I had got up early, braved the cold, steep ice, lost my gear and now I had to turn around. I watched my mates soldier on towards the top of Mt. Ngauruhoe. It was about that time I asked myself, what the hell am I doing up here?
Walking back down the mountain, I knew damn well why I was there. I was chasing that feeling of elation and satisfaction I knew I’d get when standing on top of Mt. Ngauruhoe to watch the sunrise. Except, today clearly wasn’t my day.
As I picked my way down the mountain, I squinted into the sunlight and began to think about how lucky I am, to firstly have a hobby like mountaineering, and secondly to be so passionate about it. Any opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors makes me want to jump out of my sleeping bag, no matter how cold or tired I am.
Without having a challenging hobby or sport in my life, I wondered what I would have to motivate me on a daily basis. How else would I be able to put that much excitement and adventure into my life? What would I have to put my daily life into perspective?
I like being able to compare putting on a frozen boot and a cold leg to life’s daily squabbles that really are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I like savoring a memory from an outdoor trip, or anticipating an upcoming adventure when I’m battling through projects
at work.
The outdoors certainly won’t motivate everyone, but I reckon everyone needs to be passionate about something. What are you passionate about that spices up your life?
P.s I did find my bag - nestled amongst a rocky outcrop a long, long way down the mountain with all it’s contents in one piece.

by William Pike