I was never really an adventurous or fit kid. In my school years, I participated in physical education and sport, but I was never more than average when it came to most things physical. I was much happier reading a book or playing on the computer.

My life changed when I joined the Australian Army at age 19. Over the next four years, being a physical warrior became my job. Every single day in the Army involved some sort of physical training – or PT. While I was never the fittest or strongest solider, I quickly learned that consistent daily PT combined with a “never quit” attitude meant I could go harder, longer and beat most of my colleagues. In particular, I discovered an innate ability to pack march (hike) for hours on end while carrying heavy loads of up to 30 kilograms.

After leaving the army, I kept involved in fitness and hiked recreationally, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I had my first true adventure experience: the Kokoda Track. I provided medical support for a corporate expedition and over the ensuing eight days, the 96-kilometre journey had a life changing effect on me. Endless hill climbing, relentless rain and the emotional impact of journeying through a real life battlefield while learning the emotional stories behind it resonated with me in a way I find hard to explain. I was pushed to my limits physically, mentally and spiritually. The experience left me feeling enriched and truly alive; I was hooked on adventure. Since then, I have guided another six groups across Kokoda.

A year later (2007), my quest for adventure took me to the Snowy Mountains for the first time. Like most Australians, I went and climbed Mount Kosciuszko. While the hike was not that hard, I did get caught in some bad weather: A whiteout snow blizzard, epic lighting storms and 100-kilometre-an-hour, gale-force winds. Having never experienced such conditions before, I’m not ashamed to say I had many moments of doubt and fear. But, in those tough moments, I had a true epiphany about what adventure is really about: personal growth. I learned that only when life tests you, only when you are faced with situations that make you doubt yourself or when you have the most to lose, do you ever truly learn about who you really are and what you can achieve. For better or worse, getting that kind of reality check forces you to grow as a person. Only through personal growth can we keep moving forward and be ready to face the challenges of tomorrow. Life doesn’t get much more authentic than that. Perhaps it is only through facing fears can we truly feel alive.


After my epiphany, the Snowy Mountains became my second home. My thirst for adventure and the personal growth that it brought subsequently took me on over 50 expeditions across every part of the Snowy Mountains. In 2008, I came up with the idea of the ‘Aussie 10’: climbing Australia’s 10 highest mountains. With all 10 peaks conveniently located in the Snowy Mountains, I soon turned this adventure idea into a series of highly successful corporate expeditions.

After Aussie 10, I yearned for an even bigger challenge and that’s when the idea for completing ‘A2k’ first materialised. The ‘A2k’ refers to climbing Australia’s 2,000-metre mountain peaks nonstop. After some painstaking planning and research, I discovered Australia had 26 mountain peaks 2,000 metres or above, all again located within the Snowy Mountains.

After two failed attempts over 11 months, I finally succeeded in becoming the first person to complete the A2k nonstop in November 2013. It took 48 hours of continuous hiking, across 130 kilometres of off-trail snow terrain, gaining nearly 6,000 metres of elevation, surviving hours of hallucinations and bone chilling snow blizzards that dropped temperatures down to minus six degrees. Oh, and not forgetting climbing all 26 2,000 metre mountain peaks!

The A2k was by far hardest thing I have ever done physically and mentally. I pushed myself so far beyond what I thought I was capable of that I still struggle to this day to understand how I did it.

I returned to the Snowy Mountains in November 2014 to complete a new challenge called ‘A21 Ultra’: becoming the first person to run an 82 kilometre ultramarathon through the Snowy Mountains Main Range while climbing the 21 highest mountains. While not as long in distance or time as A2k, it was another massive achievement for me as I’m not a great runner. In fact, 11 months before I could barely run for 20 minutes without pain!

Why do I do it? This is a question I get asked a lot and something I have frequently reflected upon. Besides making me feel alive, the thrill of the challenge, the beauty and freedom of the mountains, it really does come back to the true spirit of adventure: personal growth.

Remember, only by facing fear can we truly feel alive.