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Radix Journal - Dave Williams Trains on Tapuae-O-Uenuku

Dave Williams Trains on Tapuae-O-Uenuku
By Nick Allen 29/11/2018 10:15 pm

Dave Williams is the man behind Sea2Summit7.com, a site that speaks to male mental health by focusing on the highs and lows of adventure. Dave is attempting to run and climb all the way from the sea to the top the of highest peak on each of the seven continents. This goal presents an enormous challenge and will be a world-first, but it isn't his actual mission. Dave's purpose is to encourage openness among New Zealand males, and he does this by being vulnerable and honest about his journey.

Dave recently climbed Tapuae-O-Uenuku (Inland Kaikoura Range) while training for the Mt Denali in Alaska, USA. We asked him to tell us about his goal, and his recent trip:

Dave Williams on Tapuea-o-Uenuku

Dave's Story and the Vision for Sea2Summit7

A few years ago, I lost two friends to their battle with depression. Their deaths affected me deeply. I've thought a lot about how it could have worked out differently. I realised that if my mates had been able to talk openly about their struggles, then maybe we could have helped them. If, as a society, we had given them the freedom to be vulnerable and express their struggles, then perhaps they'd still be with us. That's when I decided I needed to do something, to change the culture around me.

My goal is to climb the highest mountain in each of the seven continents (the classic Seven Summits Challenge) from the nearest feasible coastline all the way to the summit. Starting from sea-level, I run a marathon consecutively each day until I reach the base of the mountain, at which point I walk, climb or scramble my way to the summit. Completing this mission will be a world first. So far, I have completed four of the seven (Kosciusko, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, and Aconcagua) and have Mt Denali (Alaska), Mt Vinson Massif (Antarctica) and Mt Everest (Nepal) to go.

The deeper motivation behind this mammoth challenge is to raise awareness for men’s mental health. We live in a culture and society that sees vulnerability as weakness. As a result, our communities are not very accepting of struggle and mental illness. I share the highs and lows of my journey openly and honestly, all with the aim of breaking the cultural taboo that prevents us from talking about the tough times, and from asking for help. If I can show that vulnerability is a strength instead of a weakness, then maybe I can help change society's perception of mental health.

Talking about my adventures, I hope to inspire people, to get them off the couch and outside challenging themselves. Getting outside is far more valuable than summiting a mountain. It's in the outdoors that you face yourself, and from my experience, I've learned more from my ‘failures’ than I have from my successes. The outdoors is the best environment I know for building resilience.

Dave Williams on Tapuea-o-Uenuku

Climbing Tapuae-O-Uenuku

I am working through the ten most prominent peaks in New Zealand, and Tapuae-O-Uenuku (also known as Tapi) is on that list. The skill-set required to finish this challenge is excellent training. As I get ready to return to Denali in Alaska, it is important to keep myself proficient in the use of my gear — and to sort out any problems with the equipment. I've attempted Denali before, but I had to turn back. It was a crushing decision. That's why I am putting in my best now, to make sure I have a better chance of summiting when I try again in July 2019.

For this trip, we carried snowboards to the summit, to get some runs on the way down. On the way up, I was in agony as my boots were really tight. Even though I have spent over 20 days in them, I was not getting circulation to my feet: it felt like I was stepping on glass. In the end, it was so painful that I took to my liners with a pocket knife, to try and free up some room. Getting to the top of Tapi was a relief, that's for sure!

We summited at 1:30 pm, and it was terrific. There's a lot of problem-solving and route-finding that happens along the way. Even after you read up on how to climb a peak, a summit day still requires a hundred decisions to get up and down safely. That's why reaching the top and completing the dream with friends is always the best part of climbing. Not to mention the views. Standing on top, we were all incredibly proud of each other and so stoked to be there.

Adventures like this are one my favourite thing to do with friends. Peaks like Tapi are not the most difficult or technical climb, but they are great opportunities to share my passion for the mountains with others. The outdoors really is the best place to learn about yourself, and to do it in a way that makes the hard times worth it. After a round of high-fives and a hug on the summit, my friend Mitch said, “That was incredible, and I loved it! What's next?”

Sadly, we couldn’t board from the summit as it was too icy. After the first bowl, we hit the softer spring snow, which was super fun. There are a few walls and lips I had wished I hit as my run was very conservative. I'll have to go back!

My next big mission will be Mt Aspiring, via the South West ridge this January — all going to plan! This trip will provide an excellent training opportunity, in preparation for my second attempt on Mt Denali.

My favourite meal? It would have to be Expedition Moroccan Style Wild Venison .

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The team at Radix stands behind Dave's mission. Our goal is to enable the development of human potential in its fullest sense — an outcome that cannot be achieved without open and honest reflection.

Connect with Dave's mission on: Sea2Summit7.com  |  Instagram  |  Facebook

Words and photos by Dave Williams; Written by Nick Allen

Dave Williams's Mate on Tapuea-o-Uenuku | Credit: Dave Williams