View from the Torlesse Range over Castle Hill Basin

Alastair McDowell Completes 104km Craigieburn Round Peak Link-Up

Alternative click-bait headlines: 'Alpine Climber Runs Rings Around Boulderers In The Mountains', or, if you are of a different persuasion, how about: 'Sport Climbing Trend of Enduro Link-Ups Spreads Into Alpinism'?

Whichever way you look at it, Alastair McDowell's completion of the 104km Craigieburn Round last weekend is a mind-blowing achievement of endurance, focus and navigation. Not to mention an insatiable appetite for scree.

Map with route markedThe 104km Craigieburn Round is the brainchild of the legendary New Zealand ultra runner Martin Lukes and involves a loop of the entire Castle Hill Basin (does that headline make sense now?), by traversing the Torlesse and Craigieburn Ranges, including 19 summits, with a start and finish at Cass. This equates to an elevation gain of over 10,000m over the route. Alastair completed the journey in a staggering 29 hours (actually not much staggering at the start, but presumably plenty towards the finish).

Alastair left Cass at 5am in the morning and headed up the Torlesse Range, via Avoca Homestead. Ascending the range, his route went through Castle Hill Peak's famous 'gap' and along the ridge to Foggy Peak and Porters Pass. A water refill at Lake Lyndon then put him beneath the Craigieburn Range. Rather than stopping somewhere to make a weekend of it, Alastair just kept trucking through the night, navigating the entire Craigieburn Range in the dark and arriving back to Cass in time for breakfast the next morning. 

Alastair is a member of the New Zealand Alpine Team and has many impressive alpine ascents to his name, not to mention other feats of endurance, such as an Aoraki / Mt Cook Grand Traverse in 24 hours and a slew of FKTs on various 'trailpinism' objectives. See his article in The Climber #110 (summer 19/20) on advice and tactics around travelling in a trail running mode in the mountains.

Congratulations to Alastair on this excellent effort. It is great to see him, and other climbers who might normally be off tackling big objectives offshore, using the current situation to find creative challenges in our alpine backyard.

Click on this video link above to watch Alastair's GoPro footage, including some gems of commentary, such as a barely discernible 'It's quite windy', from somewhere near Mt Enys and the assertion near the end 'This was fun'.