Former Royal Marine Commando, Everest summiteer, expeditioner and general all-round outdoor survival expert David Pearce has travelled the globe over the years visiting some of the most inhospitable environments on earth. His incredible survival skills are based on ‘having been there and done it’, which makes him an ideal candidate to speak at WEMski about his own real-life experiences including working with Bear Grylls, Bruce Parry and President Obama.
Bear Grylls talking about filming with President Obama on the Jonathan Ross Show “It was amazing and it was a phone call I never thought we’d get when The White House rang up and said, ‘He’s a fan of the show, would you ever take him to Alaska or on an adventure?’ Grylls & Pearce also provided insight into the trekking expedition with President Obama. He said, “We had like 60 Secret Service, snipers in the mountains, I’m not joking we had the whole four helicopters in the air, it was a crazy whole machine to watch.”
David spent 25 years as a British Commando, seeing operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo/ Bosnia and Afghanistan, and becoming a renowned expert in mountain and arctic warfare as well as specialising in other areas of the Royal Marine Commandos. He has organised and led several mountaineering expeditions around the world with his greatest achievement being part of the successful Joint Services Expedition team that scaled one of the largest rock faces in the world and made the first British ascent of Kangchenjunga from the north-east ridge (3rd highest in the world), without supplementary oxygen.
It was during this expedition in May 2003 to Kangchenjunga that David became part of what is thought to be the highest ever mountain rescue in the world. Within minutes of reaching the summit, both David and his Sherpa, Chring Dorje had to begin their descent to help two climbers from another expedition who became stuck due to injuries and prevailing weather conditions. David subsequently received a military commendation and the BBC’s Outstanding Overseas Achievement Award for his part in this major rescue operation.
Upon leaving the army he set up his own business, Peak Aspirations, which offers a variety of services from tailor making outdoor adventures to event speaking around the world, using his Everest experience to inspire people to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. David has also worked on various TV programmes using his experience and skills to provide health and safety advice and act as a safety guide during specific adventures and expeditions.
We are thrilled to welcome David to our WEMski faculty and to give you a little taste of what David will be talking about at WEMski, we asked him these three questions…
Q. What skills would you say are vital in an extreme and challenging environment?
A. To deal with complexity and volatility and have a ‘plan B’ just in case. You also need to leave your ego behind, teamwork is imperative in what can sometimes be a life-threatening situation.
Q. What first interested you in taking on extreme physical and psychological challenges?
A. It began some 35-years ago when my art teacher at school took us to a North Devon beach, where we sea paddled and surfed our kayaks. We had never done anything like this before and neither had the teacher. At the time it was so scary, but I loved every minute of it; mainly because we were all sharing the experience and learning in the mess! That was the catalyst for me and led me to push my mind and body to the limit.
Q. What has been your scariest ‘extreme’ challenge / situation and why?
A. Wow…there have been a few! Unbelievably, fewer incidents on military operations, but I guess my buddy and I being stuck at around 8000m on Kangchenjunga, for a few days in a tent, getting buried by massive snowfall. It was an extreme situation as we had no cooker, no oxygen, a failing tent and on top of that, there was a massive avalanche threat. Our fixed ropes were totally buried when we eventually emerged from our broken tent (which is still there today!) and we made the very un-nerving descent to base camp with hardly any fixed line to use as safety. It was at this moment I realised how vulnerable we are as people.
N.B. The Kangchenjunga is the second least climbed peak of the 14 peaks over 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). In fact, the Annapurna is the only 8,000 meters peak which has been less climbed than the Kangchenjunga.
Kangchenjunga does not have an “easy” route as the threat of avalanche is high. Since it is in the eastern Himalaya it receives the brunt of the monsoon moisture.
To find out more information on WEMski or to book your place and hear more incredibly inspiring stories from David and the other WEM Faculty and guest speakers please click here.