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Not Set In Stone: The consequences of a Mountain Life

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Dave Vass
April 2023
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Between the 1980s and 2015, Dave Vass became one of New Zealand's leading mountaineers. In 'Not Set in Stone' he recounts the beginning of his outdoor life caving and rafting, before turning to climbing, first around Arthur's Pass, and then at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. A move to Wanaka saw him focussed on climbing hard routes in Mount Aspiring National Park, while later in his career, it was the huge granite walls of the Darran Mountains in Fiordland that captured his imagination. In 2015, however, everything changed. Coming out from a climbing trip in the Central Darran Mountains, walking down a river at night in a gathering storm, a relatively minor slip resulted in a broken neck, and incomplete tetraplegia. After nearly dying of hypothermia, and then persistent lung infections, the conclusion of the book is Dave's story of coming to terms with this catastrophic event, and a life now lived in a wheelchair, far from the mountains. 'Not Set in Stone' is a brave, compelling book, that not only eloquently describes the passion of a mountain life, but the consequences of when it goes wrong, and how he has had to come to terms with a completely different existence. Dave Vass is a talented writer, and this book will take a unique and important place in New Zealand's outdoor literature.