TEDx Geneva: Xavier Rosset — 300 days alone on an island [en]

Xavier Rosset — 300 days alone on an island

Alone on an island, with a swiss army knife and a machete. He’s from Verbier. Extreme snowboarding, finished 2nd in 2005. Quit pro snowboarding but wanted to keep traveling. What’s the opposite of me? He likes mountains and is very social => idea of spending 300 days alone on an island.

Back to nature, and survival, and a search for himself.

Took him 14 months of preparation to realize his dream. 2nd September 2008, on a plane to head to his island near Fiji.

Initially, day-to-day survival. First started collecting coco-nuts so that he would be able to drink. First coconut? 40 minutes to open it. In the end, 30 seconds.

Night? sleep, but not under a coconut tree. On the second day, he lost his camp. He didn’t have much initial information about the island before going there. Did take some information about food before leaving. Coconut is a great laxative, he learned very fast. Snails. Crabs. Mangoes. Oranges. Lemons. Was given some fishing line and 20 hooks, and a lighter. They saved his trip.

Built a shelter. Took him three weeks and two tries to get a waterproof shelter.

He also hid his watch, wanted to lose the perception of time.

10 days after his arrival, his motivation completely plummeted. Depressed, what am I doing here? Realized he wasn’t as strong as he thought. Visitors on the island! A few hours with people from Norway on a sailing boat. They were in a hurry, but Xavier didn’t know what that meant anymore. He was ready to give up.

After 75 days, he decided not to do the 300 days. It seemed so long. 150, instead. Missed his family and relatives. He felt much better with the idea of being half-way through. Found a new motivation: sleeping, because he’d dream about his family. Being alone gives you the best freedom of the world, only limits are imagination.

Christmas: called his family on the satellite phone. Very hard. They were all there. His first Christmas without his family.

30 days later, end of January, 150 days. But it wasn’t a real victory. He was used to his lifestyle, managing it better. Wanted to be able to say he had done what he set out to do. So he added 50 more days, 200.

Water: he used 3-5 litres of fresh water a day. In Switzerland, we use 160 litres a day. He washed himself three times with fresh water. Another definition of drinking water.

End March, he really wanted to quit… but two-thirds in… He started becoming more active. Built a bench, explored. Started feeling confident because he could see the end.

Initial end plan: his best friend would come and stay with him for two weeks. He didn’t really know when it would be. Sat on a rock waiting. Very emotional when he arrived. Jumped in his arms, end of his loneliness. Lost 18kg, but did it. Stayed with him a little to socialize him again 😉

First thing Gaël told him: “hey, you missed the world economic crisis!”

Departure: sad to leave the island. It was his home for 10 months. Another adventure was going to start. Going back… arrival in Geneva. Lots of people. They came for him.

All that can get in the way of your dream is the fear of failure.

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