Since the beginning of this season, Harris Mountains Heli-ski has a new chief guide. Mike Madden, a Queenstown local with his own mountain guiding business, looks from now on after the overall safety and the guide training.
He follows in the footsteps of our former chief guide, Mark Sedon, who has decided to step down from the position and focus on other projects. He will stay with HMH as the Wanaka supervising guide and we are very glad to keep having him and his incredible experience on board.
Before the season kicks off, Mike sat down with us and talked about his plans, his experience and which terrain is his favourite.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you become a heli-ski guide?
I was born and bread on the North Island and moved to Queenstown at the age of 20. That’s where I got more and more interested in mountaineering and skiing. I studied outdoor education and worked in the industry for five years. In that time I realised that my true passion was guiding, so I moved to Mount Cook village to get more experience in climbing and skiing. I then started to train to become qualified as a professional mountain guide and eventually got my full IFMGA certificate. After working in New Zealand, Canada and Japan, I started my own mountain guiding business in Queenstown 4 years ago. During summer the focus lies on climbing guiding, mainly in the Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring region. In winter I do backcountry ski guiding and avalanche education but of course the greatest thing is heli-ski guiding.
2) What is your story with HMH?
I got my first job with HMH six years ago as the snow safety officer in Queenstown. I also started guiding at that time and became supervising guide in 2017. I obviously would have never imagined that I would be the one in the chief guiding position only a few years later. It’s funny where life sometimes takes you.
3) What are your plans for this season?
I want to continue keeping and maintaining the high level of safety HMH offers. I don’t really think things need to be any different so the main focus lies on training our guides in the best possible way. Myself and some other guides have recently been to the Southern Hemisphere Alpine Conference. I want to take the lastest teachings I got there and pass it on to everyone in the team. Our overall goal is to make sure that HMH continues being a best practise example in the heli-skiing industry.
4) What do you think of the guiding team here at HMH?
We’re extremely lucky to have some very experienced and highly qualified people passionate for skiing in our guiding team. People working here are definitely special and most of them have worked in significant roles in the industry, for example Jonathan who is the head of the Mt Cook search and rescue team. There is good blend of people that have been doing it for a very long time and less experienced people coming into the operation that are highly regarded in the industry. I want to use the experience that we got and include new ideas as well. That’s how we stay at the top of the industry.
5) What is your favourite terrain to ski?
I love Glenorchy for the steepness, length of runs and remoteness. The scenery here is simply spectacular!