Epic adventure: Guillaume Charton, right, and Tom van den Berg ascend the Remarkables from Wye Creek


A local mountaineer has documented what he believes may be the first climb of its kind in the Wakatipu Basin.

Guillaume Charton’s 15-minute film, titled (re)Discovering Remarkables, will be shown during this weekend’s NZ Mountain Film Festival in Queenstown and Wanaka, showcasing two climbs he completed a year apart with local mountaineering mate, Tom van den Berg.

The first climb, completed in March 2018, saw the pair traverse the Remarkables ridgeline from the Shadow Basin Lookout, in the north, to Wye Creek, in the south.

The 12-hour adventure was undertaken on Charton’s 40th birthday after his wife told him to go and have some time away from the kids.

“The grand traverse was something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Charton says.

“You look at that skyline and you go ‘wow, this is very jagged and it would be fun to go from one end to the other’.”

He says there’s a chance it was the first full completion of the ridgeline, but it’s hard to be sure because of a lack of documented history of climbing in the area.

“I think if we go back we will be a bit faster because now we know the terrain.

The second climb in the film was completed about a year later and follows the two as they ascend, over two days, 1000 metres of ‘rock routes’ around three different valleys – starting at Wye Creek and ending around Single Cone.

Charton says that involved ropes, harnesses and a combination of sport and rock climbing.

“It was fun to be sore at the end of the two days.”

A major challenge of the expedition was working to simultaneously move quickly, shoot and remain safe.

Originally from a town in the French Alps, Charton’s been into climbing since he was a kid and loves that mountaineering is like a “big puzzle that you have to solve”.

Moving to New Zealand about 20 years ago, he says he was drawn to the country in part because it was where Sir Edmund Hillary was from.

Many in the resort will know Charton as a long-time French teacher at Wakatipu High School.

But he’s currently taking a break from the classroom and is advising French teachers around NZ for the Ministry of Education.

The 18th NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival is scheduled to run in Queenstown and Wanaka from this Friday till Sunday, and online till July 5.

Charton’s film will be shown during the ‘Pure NZ’ session, at the Queenstown Memorial Centre and Wanaka’s Edgewater Hotel from 7.30pm on Saturday, or earlier that day, from 3pm, at the Wanaka Community Hub.

The session will also include a film from local mountain biker Tom Woodward, Building a $12M Bike Trail; The Pike 29 Track.

It tells the story of a memorial track constructed in honour of the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine explosion in November, 2010.