In dramatically different ways, Sid Marty's book The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek and Robert MacFarlane's The Wild Places both investigate the thin borderline where the familiar disappears into wilderness. Marty's book tells a true tale of a summer 30 years ago, when the town of Banff's idyllic relationship with the wild suddenly turned deadly. MacFarlane takes a personal journey, walking, climbing, and hiking in search of the last shreds of Britain and Ireland that have remained outside civilization.
The books share the Grand Prize from the 2008 Banff Mountain Book Festival. The Phyllis and Don Munday Award, sponsored by the Alberta Sections of the Alpine Club of Canada, comes with a $2,000 prize. The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek (McClelland & Stewart, Canada, 2008) and The Wild Places (Granta Books, UK, 2007, and Penguin Group USA, 2008) were among 32 finalists in five categories.
The Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature, sponsored by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, was awarded to Nick Heil for Dark Summit (Random House, Canada, 2008). A meticulously researched account of Everest's second-deadliest season (2006), the book is described by jury member John Harlin as an “exquisitely crafted and fast-paced tale... that draws in even us Everest curmudgeons by humanizing the participants, building initial empathy for their dreams, and then cold shivers for their nightmares.”
Fallen Giants (Yale University Press, USA, 2008) by Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver, won the James Monroe Thorington Award for the Best Book of Mountaineering History, sponsored by the UIAA (the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation). Subtitled A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, the book begins before Sir Edmund Hillary began his attempts on Everest, and provides an illustrated and detailed account of significant expeditions since 1890.
The award for Best Book — Mountain Exposition, sponsored by Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, went to Chris Craggs and Thorbjorn Enevold for Lofoten Rock (Rockfax, UK, 2008). A comprehensive guide to an imposing and remote collection of granite climbing sites off the west coast of Norway, the guide was praised by Harlin: “We can't imagine how another guidebook formula could make a complex climbing area easier to navigate or more enticing to visit.” (See UKC News)
Known for his popular ten-year series of “The Hard Way” columns in Outside Magazine, Mark Jenkins has won the award for Best Book — Adventure Travel, sponsored by Batstar Adventure Tours. His winning book, a collection of essays called A Man's Life: Dispatches from Dangerous Places (Rodale Press, USA, 2007), journeys to the ends of the earth — Burma, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Uganda, Lithuania — testing the limits and engaging with the locals. “Perhaps no adventure writer has travelled so widely, or with such a combination of passion, insight, and literary grace,” Harlin says.
A luminous photographic account of one of the iconic peaks of the Alps, Mario Colonel's Mont Blanc (Mario Colonel Editions, France, 2008) wins the award for Best Book — Mountain Image, sponsored by Rocky Mountain Books, and the jury chose David Leach's Fatal Tide: When the Race of a Lifetime Goes Wrong (Penguin Group, Canada, 2008) for a Special Jury Mention.
Sid Marty's The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek also took home the Canadian Rockies Award, sponsored by Deuter and chosen by a local committee. The award goes annually to a work of particular regional significance.
The 2008 Banff Mountain Book Awards jury included Julie Tait, director of the Kendal Mountain Book Festival in the U.K.; John Harlin III, author and editor of the American Alpine Journal; and David Chaundy-Smart, editor of Gripped, Canada's climbing magazine.