Adrenalin still high after world first

BY KRIS DANDO
Last updated 11:51 29/01/2013
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MOUNTAIN HIGH: Sarah Wilson and Bridget Janse below Mt Cook before they began their ascent.

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LANDED: Sarah Wilson gives a wave as she lands at Titahi Bay beach to complete the Cook-to-Cook challenge on January 21.

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Titahi Bay beach was the finish line last week for a world-first adventure by Sarah Wilson, whose last attempt nearly cost her life.

The 50-year-old, from Waikanae, climbed Mt Cook, cycled to Picton and paddled across Cook Strait.

She achieved it in 16 days, culminating in "whistling and hooting" from supporters as her kayak glided onto the Titahi Bay's sand on January 21.

"I'm still in the middle of cleaning up my kit, there is just mountains of junk to sort," she told Kapi-Mana News last week.

"The adrenaline is still flowing, it will take some time for me to come down, but I'm going for a [bike] ride soon, got to stay fit."

Starting on January 5, Ms Wilson and Bridget Janse, also from Kapiti, completed a 21-hour climb up Mt Cook. They descended on January 7.

Ms Wilson, Ms Janse and Bronwyn Ward from Picton then cycled the 770 kilometres from Mt Cook to Picton from January 11 to 18.

It was on this leg she encountered the hairiest moments.

"We're just out of Amberley the rain is just pouring down and there's massive trucks passing you while you're cycling with very little visibility.

"Really scary stuff."

Ms Wilson and her nephew Luke then did a two-day 60km kayak across Cook Strait.

The first day, to the heads of Marlborough Sounds, was the most difficult, with tough headwinds.

So why did she do it?

Two reasons - raising awareness for melanoma, which Ms Wilson was diagnosed with in 1999, and inspiring Kiwis to enjoy the adventure opportunities in New Zealand.

"I was keen to raise funds and just make people realise that being exposed to the sun without protection can be a killer.

"When you're under the age 18 and you burn, you double the risk of melanoma, and you need to get moles regularly checked."

Ms Wilson and friend Cat Shand had attempted the Cook-to- Cook before, in November 2011, but it nearly ended in tragedy when they were trapped in an avalanche on Mt Cook.

Ms Shand had to dig Ms Wilson out of the snow with her bare hands. They both suffered frostbite and the rest of the challenge was cancelled.

This time everything went to plan, aside from Ms Janse falling ill with food poisoning.

"She was throwing up as we went up the mountain, I think you can put it down to a dodgy chicken pie."

Ms Wilson says she has hours of footage to edit, and hopes to put out together a short film.

About $6000 has been raised for the Melanoma Foundation and people can still donate at adventurecoach.co.nz/blog. She wished to thank the Hillary Expedition Fund for its financial support.

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