United States mountain climber Kitty Calhoun has been
impressed by New Zealand's dramatic landscapes while in
Wanaka for the 12th annual New Zealand Mountain Film
Festival. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Chandeliers, candlesticks, mushrooms ... ice formations
mimic many objects and United States mountain climber Kitty
Calhoun sees ''beauty'' in all of them.
As the keynote speaker at Wanaka's 12th annual New Zealand
Mountain Film Festival and one of the world's leading female
ice climbers, Ms Calhoun is spreading a message of
''voluntary simplicity'' to address the impact global warming
is having on alpine ascents.
''We don't need to fill our lives with stuff which doesn't
get us where we want to go, which for me happened to be
upwards,'' she told the audience at the Lake Wanaka Centre on
Saturday evening in the first of her two talks during the
Self-described as a minimalist focused on ''micro goals, not
micro possessions'', Calhoun, now living in Utah, once spent
months living in her car and surviving on just $14 a week for
Titled ''Last Ascents'', her talk is inspired by routes which
may never be climbed again as global warming has caused snow
and ice to become unstable, rockfall and recession of
glaciers, meaning pilots can no longer land.
''I started recognising it in 2005 ... I just can't ignore it
anymore,'' she said told the Otago Daily Times.
Her talk covers three different expeditions. In one, she was
stranded in a storm for five days without food.
Weak with hunger and exhaustion, she and her climbing partner
were forced to shed much of their equipment to survive their
''The last one pointed me towards a new approach to climate
change and that's a life of minimalism where we don't take
everything or use it up or spend it, so that there's
something left to leave behind for future generations.''
Calhoun, who said she was ''old enough to know better'' when
asked her age, started rock climbing at age 18 in South
Carolina, after a boyfriend broke up with her and she
''sought refuge in the mountains''.
She later took up mountain and ice climbing, the latter of
which she considers the most visually rewarding.
''You have these [ice] formations that are chandeliers, kind
of candlestick-like, and mushrooms. And it's extraordinary.
It's really beautiful. There's different shades of blue.''
The ''dramatic'' scenery flying over the mountain ranges into
Queenstown last week on her first visit to New Zealand also
struck her as ''absolutely beautiful'' and has her
considering an extension of her stay in the country.
Having climbed throughout the world, part of the lure of
coming to New Zealand was another new climbing experience,
something festival director Mark Sedon had promised to
deliver, possibly on the Remarkables mountain range.
Ms Calhoun will give her final talk in Queenstown at 7.30pm
Thursday at the Memorial Hall.
The festival continues in Wanaka today with a youth programme
featuring films and a talk on mountain guiding by Mr Sedon, a
ski and snowboard-tuning workshop and a snow sports film
session this evening.