Second title humbles amateur climber

Mountaineer Guy McKinnon has been named New Zealand alpinist of the year.

The Christchurch climber, who completed what was called a ''once in a generation'' solo winter ascent of the east face of Popes Nose in Mt Aspiring National Park in July, received the award at the Remarkables Mixed and Ice Festival in Queenstown on Sunday.

It is the second year running McKinnon has been judged the best alpinist in the country.

''It's humbling that an amateur climber like me still chipping away in an old-fashion manner is able to inspire people to get out and do things in an age where it's increasingly becoming the realm of professional sponsored climbers,'' Mr McKinnon said.

''It's an honour to keep that side of it alive.''

Festival director Daniel Joll said Mr McKinnon was named Black Diamond NZ Alpinist of the Year by an experienced panel.

''Guy did three really impressive solos this year but Popes Nose was the one that won him the award - the one at a higher level than anyone else has done,'' Mr Joll said More than 130 climbers attended the three-day festival.

Italian climber Freddy Varengo won the Osprey Packs Double-Single Cone Traverse Race, in a time of 1hr 50mins. Christchurch's Richard Measures was second.

Wellington climber Diane Drayton won both Macpac Hardest New Route and Macpac Hardest Repeated Route at the festival in the women's category, while Jono Clarke, also of Wellington, won men's hardest new route and Auckland-based Karl Schinanski won men's hardest repeat route.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz