Wanaka guide back on skis and slopes
Crash victim feels ‘100 per cent’
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.