Tap Out Q&A: Brooke and Dave Whipple

Brooke and Dave Whipple relied on their survival skills, and the bond of marriage to get them through the challenges they faced on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, love was not enough, and they, too, succumbed to the harsh conditions.

1. Explain your reasoning behind selecting your partner.

Brooke: Selecting my partner was a no-brainer: my husband is my best friend and is also the most skilled and equipped person I know to partner up with for a challenge like this.

Dave: Brooke is my wife! Who else would I want to be stuck in a small space for a long time with?

2. How did you prepare physically and emotionally for this challenge?

Brooke: I didn’t do anything physically out of the ordinary to prepare myself; I kept my regular regimen of health/fitness, which I feel is adequate. Mentally, I prepared myself by using visualization; the first time I have ever tried something like that. I went through scenarios in my mind of things that may go wrong and situations I may encounter, even worse-case scenarios. I envisioned dealing with aggressive predators, darkness, and injury. In detail, I worked out in my mind how I would respond, resulting in a positive outcome. I feel this visualization helped me a great deal to prepare for the unknown and resulted in a very positive experience. I never felt scared, uneasy, or unprepared at any moment.

Dave: We ate a lot! We also talked a lot and tried not to overthink things.

3. What were the most challenging moments throughout your experience?

Brooke: The most challenging element of this adventure for me was the starvation aspect that eventually came to dominate my experience. I was definitely consumed by the thought of food and was well aware my body was breaking down. I felt like I was being shrink-wrapped from the inside out. It also affected my energy levels a great deal to an extent that I have never experienced before.

Dave: For me, the most challenging part was hiking. I had no idea how far it would be or how long it would take to be reunited with Brooke. The pack was so heavy and the terrain was extremely bad. It was hard on the back and on the mind.

4. Why did you decide to tap out?

Brooke: We decided to tap out due to the fact that our main food resource, fish, had all but disappeared. During the last 10 days it became clear that the fish had left the area, most likely due to the seasonal changes of winter. It left us with little to nothing to eat. It was not sustainable to remain on the land, especially considering our depleted physical state. No other significant resources were available to take the place of fish without a boat. It would become a waiting game of when I would be pulled due to weight loss, so we decided to make the decision to end our time on the island.

Dave: We ran out of options. The fishing in our area shut off like turning out a light. So the last week we had almost no food at all. Brooke was scarecrow thin. We had done all we could do and we could leave with no regrets. That’s what really mattered to us.

5. What did you learn about yourself during this entire experience?

Brooke: I learned that you are stronger than you think you are, and you can accomplish more than you think you can. I never doubted my abilities, but it was empowering to experience the limits of my mental and physical boundaries. It also cemented the fact that my husband and I are a great team both in our personal lives and in the context of a challenge like “Alone”.

Dave: I learned that what really matters in this life are things such as your friends, your family and your time and how you choose to occupy it. As for survival, I learned to be very careful. I learned that survival is about staying fed, staying warm and staying happy. It’s like a three legged stool. If you have 2 but not the third, the whole thing falls apart.

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