Free climbing hero speaks at festival
Stop your heart, bite those fingernails to the quick— Alex Honnold’s coming to Wanaka in July.
Footage of the 29-year-old US free climber’s speedy ascents of Yosemite National Park peaks had NZ Mountain Film Festival fans holding their breath last year. But in July, they can meet the climber for real.
Honnold is the keynote speaker at this year’s festival and organiser Mark Sedon is stoked.
Honnold shares the record with Hans Florine for the speediest ascent of El Capitan ( 2hrs 23mins 46 secs, in 2012) and has achieved many other notable big wall ascents.
Other guest speakers are Kiwi multisporter Steve Gurney and kayaker Ben Brown.
At least 80 entries are expected. Sedon has received 60 from as far afield as Iran and Brazil.
The judging panel will start whittling them down and forming the programme in May, with winners to be announced four weeks before the festival.
Entries already received include: Place of Happiness, featuring Christchurch climber Mayan Smith-Gobat and her US climbing partner Ben Rueck, who tackled Brazil’s highest monolith in April last year.
Another entry, Sugar Mountain, features eight friends on a camping, climbing and ski adventure in Alaska, with footage taken by drone camera.
In a new initiative this year, the NZ Mountain Film Festival Charitable Trust is offering free transport for local high schools to attend the Wanaka Youth Show on July 3.
Sedon said it was an important part of the trusts’ mission to provide youth with the chance to be involved.
It was satisfying to see filmmakers’ children submitting their own films and photographs to festival competitions, he said.