Australian Adventurer athlete and ioMerino Ambassador Kyle Williams is no stranger to embarking on pioneering physical challenges and setting records in the process. The first person to climb all 26 of Australia’s 2,000 metre peaks nonstop (November 2013) and the first person to run an 82 kilometre ultra marathon across the Snowy Mountains Main Range whilst climbing its 21 2,000 metre peaks (November 2014), Kyle’s latest mountain adventure makes his previous feats seems like a mere warm-up.
Dubbed ‘The Peak To Peak Adventure’, Kyle’s goal was to beat the existing world record of 6 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes to climb the highest peak in each Australian state and territory (8 peaks in total):
- New South Wales: Mount Kosciuszko 2228 metres
- Victoria: Mount Bogong 1986 metres
- ACT: Bimberi Peak 1913 metres
- Queensland: Mount Bartle Frere 1622 metres
- Tasmania: Mount Ossa 1614 metres
- Northern Territory: Mount Zeil 1531 metres
- South Australia: Mount Woodroffe 1435 metres
- Western Australia: Mount Meharry 1249 metres
Setting out at 11pm on Sunday 18 October in the darkness near Mount Woodroffe, deep in the South Australian Outback, Kyle’s subsequent adventure took him through some of the toughest conditions the Australian wilderness and alps could throw at him. From the endless, leg-shredding, razor-like Spinifex grass of Northern Territory’s Mount Zeil, to snow blizzards on Mount Kosciuszko and Mount Ossa, to 35 degree heat and 98% humidity on Queensland’s Mount Bartle Frere, Kyle was relentless in staying true to his goal. Even catastrophic events like a car crash with a kamikaze wombat near Victoria’s Mount Bogong – stopping his rental vehicle in its tracks – and 3 hours of delayed flights on his last leg to Queensland’s Mount Bartle Frere did not dent his commitment.
At approximately 10.25pm on Friday 23 October, Kyle completed his epic mission on Queensland’s highest mountain Mount Bartle Frere, crossing the finish line in an unbelievable time of 5 Days, 23 Hours and 35 Minutes to smash the existing record by some 22 hours and finish in under 6 days.
To put this incredible achievement in perspective, in less than 6 days he:
- Took 8 different airline flights across the breadth of Australia totalling over 13,000 kilometres.
- Undertook over 35 hours of driving (some 3,500 kilometres) across some of the most remote areas of Australia
- Completed over 170 kilometres of mountain running, with over 8,500 metres of elevation gain across the 8 mountains (That’s equivalent to the height of Mount Everest!)
- Navigated and ran 5 out of the 8 mountains at night
- 8 hours sleep across the 6 days
Here’s Kyle’s reflections on the adventure:
This was an incredibly tough challenge. I gave my all and pushed myself far beyond my own perceived physical & mental limits. The hardest things by far were the chronic sleep deprivation required to meet the travel schedule. It was absolutely crushing and made it the longest 6 days of my life. Navigating and running 5 out of the 8 mountain peaks at night was also incredibly difficult and tested my abilities to their core. Not to mention the super tight time schedule that literally had us travelling from peak to peak with absolutely NO downtime.
I first started planning this adventure back in February 2014. I wanted to complete my Australian mountain peak bagging set, having set a world record in November 2013 by becoming the first person to climb all 26 of Australia’s highest mainland mountains nonstop (The A2k). Bagging the highest peak in each Australian State and Territory then became the next challenge. I have an affinity with the mountains that I can’t really explain. When I’m deep in a physical battle on a mountain somewhere, I feel more alive than ever – it’s as real as life gets for me. Since February 2014, it has been a long road of training and preparation to reach this goal.
Whilst I had a few moments of self-doubt and fear of failing, I actually found that I got stronger as the adventure wore on. I drew mental and physical strength from each subsequent mountain ‘battle’. It’s testament to my fitness training preparation and my adventure schedule planning. I knew by the time I got to the last mountain (Queensland’s Mount Bartle Frere), nothing was going to stop me breaking that 6 day barrier!
What makes this adventure so epic and so unique is the sheer difficulty it presents physically, mentally and logistically. Besides pushing yourself to your absolute physical limits with no sleep, it really is an ‘adventure’ that is fully self-powered and planned. There is no guidebook you can read that tells you how to do it, there’s no ‘one’ map that gives you all the directions, there are no tracks or routes on several of the mountains, and there are no other competitors to race against or spectators there cheering you on. It’s just you versus the clock and 8 of the toughest mountains in Australia.
I’m no super athlete and definitely not a great runner. I’m of above-average fitness at best. I’ll never be the fittest one in the room, but I pride myself on always being the hardest worker in the room, the one who never quits, the one who is willing to suffer to achieve a goal, and the one who keeps moving forward, always, to overcome whatever challenges I face in life. And I hope that my efforts inspire others to take on whatever challenges they face in their lives too.
What ioMerino did Kyle use?
- Altitude Crew Neck (Upper Body Base Layer)
- Altitude Base Layer Full Tights (Lower Body Base Layer)
- True North Heritage Tee/Adventure Co. Tee/Earth, Water, Snow Tee (Mid Layer)
- Park City Mid Layer Vest (Mid Layer)
- Highpoint Neck Tube
- Aztech Beanie
- Glacier Tracksuit Pants (casual comfy wear whilst travelling)
How did Your ioMerino Perform?
As usual, my ioMerino performed brilliantly. As many people would know, merino clothing works so seamlessly with your body’s own thermoregulation that you’ll always feel ‘just right’ – never too cold and never too hot. From the icy cold snow blizzards in New South Wales and Tasmania, to the brutal 40 degree heat of Northern Territory and the sweatbox humidity of Queensland, I always had a piece of ioMerino gear that met my needs and helped me get the job done.
I only endorse gear that I know works in real life battles like this and ioMerino always delivers!
Why did you need to wear ioMerino during this adventure?
During this adventure, I needed to be prepared for every possible weather situation. That’s where ioMerino comes into its own. The versatility and breathability of the MicroMerino® allows me to stay warm when the temperature plummets, but remain cool when the sun comes out. Also, the no-stink properties mean I can wear the same pieces over multiple days and not worry about needing fresh gear. This allows me to take only a minimal amount of clothing and keep my pack weight down, which makes running up and down mountains a lot easier!
After achieving something so incredible, Kyle’s next adventure is to reflect on the epic journey he undertook.
For me, adventures are not merely about records, they are about the experiences, moments, and memories that come from chasing them. Records are made to be broken and I have no doubt someone will be inspired to tackle and break my record sometime in the future. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the pride that comes with being the benchmark and achieving something quite amazing.