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World-renowned speaker coming to NZ Mountain Film Festival

World-renowned speaker coming to NZ Mountain Film Festival

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival celebrates adventure sports and lifestyles in three towns over 10 days with one of the most impressive line-ups of all time. The core programme is made up of finalists to the international film competition and, once again, authors, orators and writers feature in the mountain book events. This year, the 15th festival will host one of the most accomplished and famous climbers on the planet; Leo Houlding is the 2017 keynote speaker.

Leo Houlding (UK) is a legend in the climbing and adventure fraternity; he is a world-class climber, alpinist and adventurer. Leo has Everest and many of the world’s highest peaks under his belt; however, his true passions are free climbing and big wall climbing.

He grew up in the Lake District and started climbing in 1990 at the age of 10. By the time Leo was 15 he had become the British Junior Indoor Climbing Champion.

In 1998, still only aged 18, Leo landed in Yosemite with the similarly youthful Patch Hammond and made a landmark, virtual on-sight, repeat of the Huber brothers', El Nino 5.13c, just days after they had made the first free ascent. This remains one of the finest ever ascents of what is widely regarded to be the most influential cliff in the world.

In 2013 Leo led his most ambitious and challenging expedition to date, in brutal conditions, to make the first ascent of Ulvetanna’s remarkable, mile-long North East Ridge in Antarctica. He created a film of the expedition that featured in the 2015 festival. The film captured the 35 days spent in the harsh conditions, where the expedition team tested themselves to the limits during the climb of their lives.

Leo is also a distinguished public speaker, filmmaker and television host. Festival Director Mark Sedon is delighted to have secured Houlding as the keynote presenter. “Confirming Leo to speak is a coup. It has been a long-term goal of the Trust to bring him out to speak. He is such an incredibly well respected climber worldwide and his relaxed and articulate speaking style makes for an entertaining and informative way to learn about his projects. We are really excited to have Leo along.”

On top of that Leo is also an experienced base jumper and is at the forefront of innovation in Para-Alpinism: climbing up, to fly down! He sports an impressive television résumé, including an infamous appearance on the BBC's Top Gear, his own show on Virgin One, "Take Me To The Edge", and an IMAX movie released in 2010, "The Wildest Dream", retracing the last steps of Mallory and Irvine on their fateful expedition to Everest in 1924. Leo will be speaking about his professional life in the mountains and his onstage and camera career.

Penny Webster (Christchurch) is an amateur Kiwi climber speaking at the festival about her life as a mountaineer. Penny recently completed ascents of all New Zealand’s 3,000m mountains, becoming the first woman and one of only a few Kiwis to have achieved the challenge since its conception in the early 1950s. She will be speaking at the NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival about her life as mountaineer with a focus on the climbs from Empress Hut in 2016, and an historical perspective on other climbers who have embarked on climbing all New Zealand’s highest mountains.

Penny grew up in Christchurch where she nurtured both an adventurous and competitive nature. She has represented New Zealand in road cycling, adventure racing and mogul skiing. She competed in the Coast to Coast nine times, winning three titles, and the long-standing NZ Alpine Ironman which she won six times.

She is a teacher, author, mentor, wife, iron woman and adventure sports woman who passionately gives back to a sport she loves by instructing snow craft with the NZ Alpine Club. There she imparts her ethos that it is a privilege to walk and climb in the uniquely peaceful and stunning New Zealand environment.

Entries have closed for the literature events. The Trust is still receiving entries to the film competition and entries close on April 20. The full festival programme will be announced when tickets go on sale on 1 June. The 2017 festival begins in Wanaka on Friday 30 June and in Queenstown on Thursday 6 July.

• Film Festival Wanaka 30 June to 4 July
• Film Festival Cromwell 5 July
• Film & Book Festival Queenstown 6 to 8 July
• Book Festival Wanaka 7 to 9 July


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