Wanaka guide back on skis and slopes

Crash vic­tim feels ‘100 per cent’

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Wanaka moun­tain guide Mark Se­don has over­come in­jury, is back on his skis and ready to roll out the 2015 New Zealand Moun­tain Film Fes­ti­val.

Last Septem­ber, he was count­ing seven of his nine lives gone, af­ter sus­tain­ing se­ri­ous spinal frac­tures in a he­li­copter ac­ci­dent on Mt Alta that claimed the life of Auck­lan­der Jerome Box.

His goal was to be back on skis by Jan­uary, which he achieved by guiding an Adventure Con­sul­tants climb­ing ex­pe­di­tion to the Vin­son Mas­sif in Antarc­tica.

‘‘It [re­cov­ery from the back in­jury] was slow. It took three or four months re­ally, to re­cover. I was try­ing to get fit to go back to Antarc­tica in Jan­uary, so I was driven.’’

It was Se­don’s fifth trip to the Vin­son Mas­sif, a se­ries of peaks and large plateau about 1200km from the South Pole and dom­i­nated by the 4892m Mt Vin­son.

Se­don fol­lowed up in Fe­bru­ary by or­gan­is­ing and guiding a four­week ski tour in Kash­mir, In­dia.

‘‘That’s where ev­ery­thing came right. In Jan­uary in Antarc­tica I was car­ry­ing a 30kg pack but skigu­id­ing I was car­ry­ing about 10-15kg. Ev­ery­thing is back to nor­mal now. I feel 100 per cent.’’

Now the kite-surf­ing, ski­ing and climb­ing ad­dict is busy mak­ing the fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for the film fes­ti­val he co-founded 13 years ago with his wife, Jo Se­don.

The cou­ple re­ceived 140 films this year and have nar­rowed the pro­gramme down to 71.

Se­don has sym­pa­thy with those he could not in­clude. The only film he has made, Koura Ma (White Gold), screened at the 2014 fes­ti­val but Se­don has not had any luck get­ting other fes­ti­vals to take it. Koura Ma de­tails Se­don’s at­tempt to scale all 18 of the 2500masl peaks in the Queen­stown Lakes dis­trict.

Se­don chipped away at them over five years and has just one to go – Mt Ian (2502masl) in the re­mote Snow Drift Range above the Mar­ion Plateau be­tween the Arawhata and Dart rivers. He had in­tended to do it last year and Mt Ian re­mains un­fin­ished busi­ness.

‘‘It takes two days to get there. I hope to climb and ski that in Septem­ber. And I am­not tak­ing my cam­era. The film’s done, un­less some­one else wants to come and take a cam­era!’’

Se­don said mak­ing Koura Ma was all about wear­ing the shoe on the other foot and done for fun, with lo­cals seem­ing to en­joy it even though it had not been picked up.

The Se­dons are con­tin­u­ally search­ing for ways to keep their fes­ti­val fresh. Last year, they in­tro­duced a photography com­pe­ti­tion and this year they have in­creased the prize to $500 for both youth and adult en­tries.

They have also in­cluded a moun­tain book sec­tion to pro­mote adventure writ­ing and lit­er­a­ture and a moun­tain art walk is also be­ing planned through Wanaka build­ings and gal­leries.

Se­don has not com­mis­sioned an eco­nomic im­pact as­sess­ment although other Wanaka event or­gan­is­ers are now pro­vid­ing them to sup­port­ers and fun­ders.

‘‘But we have sur­veyed peo­ple and with the help of Lake Wanaka Tourism, worked out where they [the au­di­ence] all came from and the length of stay. That was three years ago and it came to about $250,000 spend­ing in Wanaka alone,’’ he said.

The fes­ti­val au­di­ence is grow­ing and last year, 4000 peo­ple at­tended events in Wanaka, Queen­stown and Cromwell, with the Lake Wanaka Cen­tre ‘‘packed out’’.

Although the Queen­stown au­di­ence had dou­bled, there was still room for growth there, Se­don said.

The one night ‘‘best of’’ se­lec­tion at Cromwell had drawn 60 peo­ple and Se­don was hop­ing for a larger au­di­ence this year.

‘‘In Wanaka, we have a re­ally good for­mula with num­bers ex­pand­ing and good venues and a me­dia fo­cus. The Lake Wanaka Cen­tre could just do with about 100 more seats. But we are lucky to have it,’’ Se­don said.

To cope with con­ges­tion, for the first time fes­ti­val events are also be­ing sched­uled at Rubys, Cinema Par­adiso and Rip­pon Hall.

Af­ter the fes­ti­val, Se­don will be snap­ping on the skis for Har­ris Moun­tain Heli Ski and come sum­mer, he will be back with Adventure Con­sul­tants and plan­ning more Antarc­tic trips.

NZ Moun­tain Film Fes­ti­val direc­tor Mark Se­don. Photo: Mar­jorie Cook/Fair­fax NZ

Lake Hawea alpine guide Mark Se­don ski­ing in In­dia in Fe­bru­ary.

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