In 1863 Henry Whitcombe, a young civil engineer and Canterbury's Provincial Road Surveyor, led an expedition to find a route across the Southern Alps in advance of the West Coast gold rushes. Jakob Lauper, a hardy Swiss goldminer, was hired to accompany him. The journey turned to tragedy. Dogged by appalling weather and half-starved, the two men traversed the Main Divide by a pass that now bears Whitcombe's name, and struggled down to the western beach. There the exhausted Whitcombe drowned while attempting to cross the flooded Taramakau River. Against extraordinary odds, Lauper survived and made his way back to Christchurch. His report on the expedition was translated into English and published mid-1863. Pushing His Luck provides for the first time an accurate translation of Lauper's vivid account, and explains the significance of new information brought to light. Nearly 150 years after the event, the truth about this journey is finally told.