kayaking in tibet


Obituary: David Allardice

This is an obitury that I wrote for Action Asia to pay respects to a great friend business partner and just all round nice guy David Allardice.

May he rest in Peace ( But knowing him he will be out trying to rearrange the landscape where ever he is !)

david allerdice rafting legend action asia magazine

We received very sad news at the end of April when we heard that whitewater pioneer and adventurer David Allardice had passed away. A long-time friend of, and contributor to, Action Asia, he was as much a force of nature as the epic rivers he paddled. Several of his friends and peers offered their thoughts and here we publish two tributes to a life lived to the fullest. Ed.

A tribute

Patrick O’Keeffe

After a lifetime of adventure and many things that should have killed him, David was sadly taken away from us by cancer. A friend, a business partner, a sensei of life, he was a true inspiration. A beloved husband and father to two great kids, David spent most of his life away from his homeland of New Zealand exploring and taking on challenges throughout Asia and the rest of the world. He made several first descents on awe-inspiring rivers such as the Indus, the Maykha (in Myanmar) and the Yarlung Tsangpo (China), pioneered the booming rafting industry in Nepal and started commercial multi-day river expeditions on many great rivers.

He trained a whole generation of international and Nepalese river guides to believe in their dreams. Working alongside David provided challenges that had to be met to make adventures dreamed up over a few drinks a reality. Always the eternal optimist, he wove his magic and made us believe we could do almost anything – and we did! A two-week excursion to Myanmar with David, on supposedly warm water and with the girls in beachwear, turned into the most epic trip of my life. After a helicopter appeared to be beyond our budget, he had the great idea of walking to the river, through an area of dense jungle where few westerners had ever been and with no real food supplies.

When we eventually reached the river it turned out to be 260 kilometres of full-on whitewater and took all the effort, positivity and energy of a very experienced team to finish. And David happily returned and did it all again with commercial clients! The void that he leaves will be filled eventually by his disciples in the river scum gang, but only his reincarnation will make possible the running of trips with such flair, charisma and optimism.

It’s not the duration but the intensity that counts

Hugh Moss

The news of David’s passing on 25th April has touched many deeply. A profound influence on me, he opened up a ‘raft’ of connections and his passing has rekindled my sense of the importance of ‘river time’ as a life mode.

He inspired, affirmed and encouraged in me a belief that anything is possible. He drew me deeper into the river of my life and showed me better how to swim in it, paddle in it, flow with it, coincide with others and to find the good spots to eddy out and dive in again refreshed and revived.

Dave was one of the biggest characters I met on my travels in the early days of Action Asia and meeting him was like plugging into the mainline of adventure travel as source and creator of it. He connected me into a network of operators, travellers, writers and photographers who embodied the spirit of action in Asia and fashioned their lives around making adventure possible for the rest of us.

One rainy day in Kathmandu he decided it’d be a good idea to run a training trip down the Trisuli for his Nepali guides, and that Tom Laird and I should join the group. He decided that I should expand my limited experience in a kayak – previously only in calm water with the only eskimo roll training limited to a swimming pool! Being June, the river was in full flood, bloated by meltwater and monsoon rains!

A long tale short – I remember huge walls of churning coffee-coloured water and one mighty drop into a left-hand bend where the maelstrom collided with a cliff wall. As we accelerated in, Dave charged me to paddle hard and keep right! I did and was taken right to the wall where the mighty flow effortlessly rolled me over. Somewhere deep down in the froth I managed to pull the ripcord on my spray deck. A long 20 seconds later, buoyed by my life vest, I was spat out on the surface. There beside me was the bow of David’s kayak. “Grab on,” he said smiling, and paddled me to my upturned boat. “I’ll see you at the next pool!” he said as he arced off to shepherd the flotsam of the overturned gear raft.

In body he’s gone; but in us his grin and his spirit live on.

PDF: Dave Allerdice obituary in Action Asia Magazine

One Response to Obituary: David Allardice

  1. David D'Imperio says:

    Traveled overland from India into Nepal summer of 1988. Spent near three months there and met Dave while he was taking tours into Tibet out of the Katmandu Guest. Dave was a larger than life character. Because Dave was plugged into the tourist industry he heard that people who had a Chinese visa could get into Lhasa on a China Airlines flight out of Katmandu without going with an expensive tour. If you had a visa you could buy a airline ticket. There were recent troubles in Lhasa and the Chinese Embassy wasn’t issuing visas to solo tourist and I didn’t have the funds for the high priced group tours, Dave had the idea to go to the Chinese Embassy with the story that my traveling friend and I were teachers off for the summer and plan to go overland through Pakistan and the Khunjerab Pass to Kashgar with no time in Pakistan to get a visa. It worked, we got a visa after two weeks and went right to the China Airlines office and booked a flight. We got to hang out with Dave quite a bit between his work and our treks in Nepal. I remember the trip he returned from with his future wife. Dave was over the top about her and we departed not long after that on our travels. I’m sad to hear of Dave’s departure, but happy to have met a person as “alive” as him. The time I spent with him was a blink of an eye yet my memory of him is quite strong. To his Wife and children my heart felt condolences.

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