Here in New Zealand, we are sometimes a bit blasé about using active vocanoes for our recreational activities. Mt. Ruapehu has had fairly major eruptions as recently as 1996, but we continue to ski, climb and hike on it year-round.
William Pike is a Kiwi who found himself in just the wrong place at the wrong time. During a climbing trip with a friend on Ruapehu in 2007 they stopped for the night at Dome Shelter, a small hut just below the crater lake. That night, the mountain had a severe case of indigestion and sent a lahar (powerful stream of mud and rocks) straight through the hut on its way down the mountain.
William's companion was miraculously unhurt, but William was blasted by rocks, and had one leg pinned in what amounted to natural concrete. Every Day's a Good Day is the story of William's ordeal on the mountain, rescue, and recovery.
I really wanted to like this book, because I admire those who take such a major setback in their lives (in the case the amputation of his right leg below the knee) with such acceptance and optimism. Throught the story, William never seems to feel hard done by with his extreme bad luck, despite being the ONLY person hurt by the eruption. Nor does it alter his love of the outdoors or of mountaineering. There's no doubt that faced with similar circumstances, I would hope to find that kind of strength and positive attitude in myself.
Unfortunately, William is not a particularly strong writer. Although his story is compelling, he fails to make the readers feel like they are living through it with him. It also seems that he couldn't find enough to say about the actual incident to fill out a book, so instead he tells us irrelevant stories about his childhood firing a pea-shooter and his youth on the school water polo team.
Coincidentally William has just been in the news here again. (No he hasn't lost another limb!) He has just launched the William Pike Challenge Award for students. Participants will do a mix of community service, such as helping clean up ski areas, and take part in outdoor activities such as climbing the central plateau mountains, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
William is a school teacher and wanted to encourage more young people to gain new skills and confidence by participating in outdoor activites. Good on ya William!