Free climb­ing hero speaks at fes­ti­val

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - By MAR­JORIE COOK mar­jorie.cook@fair­fax­me­

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.

Alex Hon­nold

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