Explorer Journeys: William Pike

Inspiring Explorers Expedition™: Antarctic Peninsula and Mt Scott – 2017

“I am passionate about sharing my love of exploration and continuing to inspire the next generation of young New Zealanders to explore and look after their world.”

When William Pike lost his leg in the Mt Ruapehu eruption of 2007, he never imagined that just 10 years later, he would be standing on the summit of a mountain in Antarctica.

As someone passionate about exploration, losing his right leg from below the knee in the volcanic eruption of Mt Ruapehu was a cruel blow for William. He was determined, however, that his disability would not hold him back. In 2017, he was one of four Kiwi explorers on the Trust’s expedition to summit Mt Scott, a heavily glaciated peak on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Prior to the Mt Scott expedition, the longest William had spent walking on his prosthetic leg was around 10 to 12 hours a day, so he was unsure how it would stand up to the 18 hour day summiting Mt Scott.

“Climbing as an amputee is not comfortable or easy. I had to constantly think about every step. The silicone liner in the socket where my stump sits prevents blisters and rubbing but it doesn’t breathe, so sweating was another major concern requiring constant monitoring. I had to stop and start several times during the climb to take my leg off.”

Adding to William’s personal battles, were the challenges facing the expedition team as they began their ascent of steep, sloping Mt Scott, which rises dramatically out of the ocean. Visibility was very poor, with almost white out conditions making route-finding extremely difficult on the lower reaches. The team also had to carefully navigate around a maze of deep, dangerous crevasses, which dotted the immense landscape.

As they continued up the mountain, a hint of blue sky finally appeared through the fog. The clouds peeled back, and they were able to complete the climb under sunny, blue skies. The team was elated to reach the summit. “Summiting Mt Scott was a definite highlight. The view was like flying across the Pacific Ocean, looking down and seeing nothing but cloud.”

William is a highly sought after motivational speaker and role model to youth. He is the director of William Pike Challenge, which runs in nearly 100 schools throughout New Zealand, helping youth to become more resilient, confident and connected with their community.

William is a key member of the Inspiring Explorers™ alumni, with the William Pike Challenge being a valued partner of the Trust’s Young Inspiring Explorers™ Summit.