“Was it fun?” After a six-day non-stop adventure race through the mountains around Mt Aspiring, Alastair McDowell ponders this question and asks himself, "Why do we do this to ourselves?" He shares a thought-provoking exploration into what calls mountaineers into the wild, what the experience is truly like, and how brushes with fatality are an ever present reminder of mortality.
Through the wild and remote Matakitaki region to the well-trafficked and sociable valleys of Nelson Lakes, Alastair McDowell takes the reader on a visual journey of his fastpacking mission in photo essay form.
Inspired by the ‘Rounds’ in the UK, British native and New Zealand ultra-runner Martin Lukes designs the first ever New Zealand ‘Round’ – a classic long-distance mountain challenge taking in all of the summits of a local area in an aesthetic loop. After spending a summer bagging peaks in the Southern Lakes, Alastair McDowell tackles Canterbury’s answer to the famous mountain challenges of Britain: the Craigieburn Round.
Drawn to Fiordland in the search for more summits, Alastair is confronted with the tough reality that his kayak has floated away and he is trapped on Mitre Peak. Saved by the kindness of a mysterious stranger, he successfully completes Challenge Day 17 in under six hours.
Fascinated and frightened by the thought of whitewater kayaking, Alastair McDowell embraces his fears (and excitement) to join his mates on a weekend packrafting trip in Mt Cook. After his partner's paddle breaks, Alastair gets thrown in at the deep end and learns the art of navigation.
'Every piece of gear that you bring needs to be examined and optimised. A ruthless and analytical attitude needs to be taken.' Breaking down each component to allow for the lightest and safest travel, Alastair delves into the nitty gritty of fastpacking.
What he deems as 'one of the best alpine day trips in New Zealand,' Alastair McDowell makes his annual pilgrimage to the Darran Mountains in Fiordland and creates video footage of his climbs.
After speed climbing in Europe, Alastair McDowell is inspired to try it again in New Zealand -- this time traversing the three peaks from the Hooker and returning via the Tasman for a total distance of 53km and 4000m of vertical gain, all in 24 hours.
Alastair McDowell joins a mountaineering trip organised by the Canterbury Mountaineering Club. Using Empress Hut in Mount Cook/Aoraki as his base, he embarks on a weekend of icy adventure.