Alps adventure toasted with replica Shackleton Scotch

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A Glenorchy outdoors adventurer has completed an epic 70-day walk down the backbone of the South Island. 

Al Fastier, 53, and friend David Mulder hiked a 1400km route, winding through the Southern Alps from Cape Farewell to Waitutu Bay. 

Along the way they faced adverse weather, were joined by friends and celebrated with a replica bottle of Ernest Shackleton’s whisky. 

“Probably the most challenging section was from Arthur’s Pass to Mount Cook,” Fastier says. 

“The majority of that alpine tramp had no track so we had to find our own way, climbing up and over every day using crampons and ice axe.” 

Fastier, who’s pedalled 4000km through North America on one of his many expeditions, walked from 5am to 10pm on the longest days – often carrying a 25kg pack. 

The pair were trapped in a tent for 24 hours by savage storms near Albert Burn Saddle. 

“It’s nerve-wracking at the time – we’d have been blown away had we left the tent – but in retrospect it was one of the highlights of the trip.” 

Fastier is a project manager for the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, which two years ago found crates of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 100-year-old expedition whisky buried under the Cape Royds huts. 

“The chief blender from Whyte & Mackay sent me a bottle of the replica whisky at the end – so we finished the trip by cycling 190km to Slope Point and having a dram.”