Radix Journal - Dave Williams: Mountaineering World First

Dave Williams: Mountaineering World First
By Radix Team 10/04/2017 2:01 pm
Dave Williams is off to Alaska

IF you haven’t heard of Dave Williams, now’s a good time to get to know him. Just days away from the start of his attempt (starting at the nearest feasible coastline) to summit Mount Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.

Denali is Williams’ fifth summit on the list, with a summit elevation of 6,190 metres above sea level. The ambitious explorer has already summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro (first ever sea to summit ascent of the mountain), Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Europe’s Mount Elbrus (first ever sea to summit ascent of the mountain), and Aconcagua in South America.

In his late twenties, Williams wanted more from life. At a time when tragic life events converged with his own decision to put greater meaning into life, he wanted to reignite his passion for the great outdoors on his terms. He and friend, Ryan, hit upon a crazy idea. Williams would climb all seven summits from sea level, raising $100,000 and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, at the same time.

 

Let’s get that straight… Seven summits. From sea level. To help mental health in New Zealand. This is a pretty special guy.

Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak after Antarctica and Mount Everest – five jagged glaciers flow off the granite giant’s slopes. In terms of difficulty, this is right up there. Alaska is cold. The lowest temperature Williams expects to face, is –40°C, but mountain weather is hard to predict.

A meteorological station near the summit of Denali recorded a temperature of −59.7 °C in December 2003. On the previous day, a temperature of −59.1 °C combined with a wind speed of 29.6 km/h produced a North American record wind-chill of −83.4 °C.

Sam Clark wins the C2C

“I am going to an extreme and wild place – both physically and mentally.”

“It seems appropriate to take myself to isolated, bleak and frightening places for a charity that helps people who find themselves facing mental hardship and need help. The moments of mental struggle and fragility ensure I identify with this cause more than I imagined. I want to help by detailing the struggles I go through and demonstrating that is it okay to be vulnerable.”

Williams is no stranger to hardship. Aconcagua twice denied him the pleasure of reaching its summit, before his third attempt, in 2016, was successful.

In 2013, during his run towards the Andes, disaster struck - he collapsed from severe heatstroke. 

“Humiliated and upset, I realised that dogged determination doesn’t necessarily lead to success. I needed help. There is such parity with mental health in these situations and the need to ask for help when struggling.”

 Williams now leans on former AUT university lecturer friends, Mark Jones (Senior Lecturer and Outdoor Education Major Coordinator) and Ray Hollingsworth, (Senior Lecturer, Outdoors) as well as other expert friends, for advice.

 

Expert guidance isn’t the only requirement for success – exceptional nutrition is paramount.

“At altitude, appetite is suppressed and after a day of intensive exercise I want to curl up and sleep. But I learned the hard way, this doesn’t work. Next day, you can’t perform.”

Williams takes a compact gas stove, enabling him to melt snow and have hot water. Nutritionist advisor, Mikki Willidon, introduced him to Auckland-based Radix Nutrition – it was obvious they could help.

 

“Radix lightweight meals will be on my sled. With snow and a stove, I can eat a well-balanced, hot meal in less than fifteen minutes. Nutrient-dense fruit and nut-based breakfasts only need cold water; being able to snack on quality food anytime is fantastic.

“Radix is a game-changer – I can carry the equivalent of 50kg of food. It’s exciting because freeze-drying naturally preserves the nutritional quality of fresh ingredients.”

 

Inevitably problems do arise and Williams has learned to be prepared.

“I now have a magic toolkit of gizmos and gadgets that can hopefully get me out of most problems. Kiwi ingenuity also goes a long way – you have to think on your feet.”

Technical expedition gear in such extreme conditions is vital.

 “My Bivouac Outdoors gear could save my life. Psychologically it is also important to me that I have reassurance – equipment and clothing can never be an excuse not to succeed.”

In Alaska, Dave will be supported by good friend, Mike Boston. For the running stage, Mike will drive alongside in a campervan. The two men will set off together up the mountain.

“For ten days, we’ll hike towards the glaciers. Having a partner is vital – if one falls into a crevasse, the other must get them out. Mike and I will stay close at all times.”

The pair will carry an InReach satellite phone – followers can track their journey in real time.

“At base camp, it is our last chance to make use of the internet, after that we are on our own. I love the isolation aspect. That is what I most look forward to – being out there, with nothing else in sight.”

 

What’s next for Williams, beyond his imminent trip to Alaska?

In 2018, he plans to return to Europe.

“Some do not consider Mount Elbrus to be the true highest peak in Europe, that’s why I’m going back to take on Mont Blanc next year. I want to do Sea2Summit7 properly, no compromises.”

 Later in 2018, Antarctica is in his sights. A seven-week expedition from Gould Bay to the peak of Vinson Massif. The climb will serve as a warm-up to Everest – when Williams will head to Asia in 2019. The home straight of Sea2Summit7 will likely be the hardest challenge he has ever faced: 32 marathons in as many days, just to get to Kathmandu, Nepal. There will be a month-long hiatus to replenish fat stores and prepare, before embarking on a two-month climbing expedition of the world’s tallest peak, Everest.

 

This man means business…

“I’ll need to hit the ground running, Everest requires me to be at peak physical fitness – to be my very best. Yes, I am doing this for me, but more importantly, this is about raising the profile of male mental health and those who suffer with depression. This is about the 30 other climbers I will be leading to Base Camp, on possibly the greatest expedition of their lives. This is about making history. I owe everyone my very best.”

“I am going to an extreme and wild place – both physically and mentally. I hope many new people will join me on this journey.”

If you would like to donate to Mental Health New Zealand and show your support for Williams’ Sea2Summit7 expedition, please follow this link:

https://sea2summit7.com/donate-to-mental-health/

or text SEA to 2446 to donate $3 straight away

Support and find out more at:

www.sea2summit7.com

www.facebook.com/Sea2Summit7/

Instagram: Sea2Summit7

Twitter: @Sea2Summit7