Father, son from Maple Valley team up to get out alive

Austin Vach of Maple Valley posted a video to YouTube and ended up in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand eating fish eyes.

Austin Vach of Maple Valley posted a video to YouTube and ended up in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand eating fish eyes.

The video, which Vach filmed with one of his brothers and featured “stupid human tricks” cauaght the eye of a representative for a new show, “Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls.” The show features 10 two-person teams competing in a series of challenges and their ability to adapt and survive is evaluated by Bear Grylls of “Man vs. Wild” fame, with the weakest team sent home at the end of each episode.

“I was all in from almost the beginning,” Austin Vach said.

Austin Vach’s first challenge was to find someone he could persuade to be his teammate. He approached his three brothers and a cousin, all of whom turned him down.

“Then he came to me, ‘Dad I got an idea,’ and I at first declined, and with Austin and my wife’s persistance I capitulated, and then after a while I got really excited about it,” said his dad, Jim Vach.

Austin Vach, who had become a fan of Grylls through watching “Man vs. Wild” in college, started telling his dad about all of the things Grylls did on the show.

“I was prepping him and showing him videos of Bear and the crazy stuff he does,” Austin Vach said.

Jim Vach was admittedly unsure and unconvinced when his son first approached him.

“At first it scared me because I had seen some of the stuff he did,” Jim Vach said. “But then as I thought about it more I got more excited as the deadline approached when we might get picked.”

In February the father-son team found out they were selected and they were headed on an adventure in New Zealand.

Both father and son have a scouting background — Jim Vach was a Scout Master in the ‘90s and mid 2000s and Austin Vach is an Eagle Scout. Both agreed their scouting backgrounds helped them to a point, but they also faced conditions and obstacles throughout the show which were beyond their normal camping trips.

“The biggest difference between the camping that we’ve done and what we did on ‘Get Out Alive’ is when we would go camping with Scouts we would (bring) tents and sleeping bags and out there (New Zealand) we had little food, we were never on any set trails, we were always bush wacking, and they took gear from us,” Austin Vach explained. “They made things much more difficult then your standard camping trip.”

In each leg of the competition the teams are assigned different tasks, be it guiding the group through an obstacle, constructing shelter, preparing food, or creating and tending a fire. Also, the teams compete in a challenge which can range from having a high gross-out factor like drinking a concoction of urine and muddy water to constructing and using a sling shot, with the winning team safe from elimination.

The competition started off with a win for the Vachs in the first challenge when Austin Vach won the urine-muddy water chugging challenge. Austin Vach said that was the toughest challenge he faced in the beginning.

“Drinking my urine, hands down,” Austin Vach said. “That is the most difficult thing I’ve done in recent years, in recent history. It’s a great story to tell — I can always one-up somebody with that one.”

In the challenge the teams had to build a fire to boil the mixture to make it safe to drink and the team which finished first won the chance to eat at the Feast Pit and, much to the appreciation of Austin Vach, use some creature comforts like toothpaste.

“I was really proud of him,” Jim Vach said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen but we had an idea and he volunteered.”

Austin Vach said when the first episode aired it was at that point his brothers and his cousin were probably glad they had turned him down when he had asked them to be his partner.

“If I had gone out there with one of my brothers we probably would have done rock, paper, scissors,” Austin Vach said. “I wouldn’t have volunteered so quickly.”

Both Jim and Austin Vach said going into the show they were excited for the adventure and also challenging themselves.

“One thing that I wanted was a good experience with Austin,” Jim Vach said. “Austin is a fun guy to be around and I missed out on that a little bit because he was the last of four sons…I didn’t spend as much time with him as some of the older boys. Also, it’s a time to test yourself and do some things.”

For Austin Vach it was also a chance to learn from Grylls and break away from what people typically think of him.

“I was most excited about going there and having that time with my dad and then being out there with Bear Grylls,” Austin Vach said. “It was a chance to prove to those that know me that I have what it takes to survive out in the wild and do difficult things. I work here at Microsoft and, I think, typically stereotyped as the nerd, geek-type person — very skilled technically but doesn’t really have much depth in other areas. I see myself completely differently. I took this as an opportunity to show others a completely different side of me that I think others don’t really know.”

One thing that Jim Vach said he learned from the experience was the importance of challenging himself and not letting his mind talk him out of trying things.

“I have an abundance of caution so I will say ‘no’ because it might be demanding, take up too much time —whatever— I will say ‘no,’” Jim Vach said. “But then I did say yes and I got more excited and I got glad. And what Austin has said was that my mind would age me faster than my body. If I say yes my body will step up and follow that.”

At 61 Jim Vach was the oldest person on the show but the Vachs didn’t let that slow them down.

“He said ‘I’m too old, I can’t do that,’” Austin Vach said. “He was the oldest contestant out there and I think he did a pretty good job.”

The Vachs said they’ve received so much support from friends and family cheering them on and they’ve enjoyed seeing peoples’ reaction to the show.

“I think my dad and I surprised a lot of people with coming out on the first episode (and winning),” Austin Vach said.

Jim Vach said looking back on the experience he was glad he changed his mind and decided to team up with his son and that he would do it again, “in a heartbeat.”

“What I took away is: take you out of your comfort zone and that’s where the growth takes place,” Austin Vach said.”Push yourself and try something new and it will pay off.”

“Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls” airs at 9 p.m. on Monday on NBC.