Gordon Stainforth Triumphs at Banff

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Nov/2012
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Author, landscape photographer and UKC member Gordon Stainforth scooped a prize for his latest book at last week's Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.

+Gordon giving his acceptance speech in the Max Bell Auditorium in Banff Center, 139 kbGordon giving his acceptance speech in the Max Bell Auditorium in Banff Center
© Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

His book Fiva - An Adventure That Went Wrong won Best Book in the Mountain and Wilderness Literature category against tough opposition among a strong shortlist of five finalists.

The judges - Bruce Kirkby (Can), Barbara Brownell (USA) and Jim Perrin (UK) - said '2012 was an exceptional year for quality work.'

Their citation described 'the breathless teenage voice' of Fiva's narrator as 'an unrelenting force, sweeping the reader ever higher ... as events spiral out of control. An evocative period piece, Fiva is human, innocent, and unflinchingly believable. This little, unassuming book stands among the classic tales of climbing "epics".'

Fiva is an epic true account of a near-death experience when Gordon and his twin brother John - callow inexperienced youths - took on Norway's Store Trolltind in 1969.

'This is really the best thing that's happened to me professionally for 18 years, since I won the Best Book of Mountain Image at Banff in 1994 [for The Cuillin]' Gordon tells us.

'But this actually means much, much more to me, because I really regard writing as a higher form of art than photography. What is really thrilling is the universal acclaim Fiva has been receiving, from old and young, climber and non-climber alike. It's definitely the most satisfying thing I've done creatively since I left the film industry nearly three decades ago.'

Fiva has also been shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize, the result of which will be announced at the upcoming Kendal Mountain Festival on Friday 16 Nov.

Gordon is well known for his award-winning photo books on the British mountains: Eyes to the Hills, Lakeland: Landscape of Imagination, The Cuillin and The Peak: Past & Present. But these aren't the only string to his bow, in a career that in his own words has had 'as many ups and downs as a mountain range'.

From 1975-79, as a graduate from the Royal College of Art (having studied Philosophy at Cardiff University), he worked as an assistant film editor on an number of major TV documentary series, first with Tom Mangold and then Jonathan Dimbleby, on such subjects as Prisons, Space Wars and South America. His biggest break came in 1979 on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. When the Editor became ill in early 1980, Gordon cut the last half hour of the movie with Kubrick, who then made him the Music Editor responsible for laying the highly-acclaimed score. He then edited the TV documentary Making the Shining for Kubrick's daughter, Vivian. After this, he went on to work with several other major film directors: Peter Yates (Krull and The Dresser), Wolfgang Petersen (Neverending Story), John Guillermin (Sheena) and Ridley Scott (Legend).

In more recent years Gordon has worked as a freelance writer and designer. In 2005 he compiled and designed the 25th anniversary photographic exhibition The Crux: 150 Years of British Climbing in 25 Images for the Kendal Mountain Festival; and in 2007 he worked with Griff Rhys Jones on the Lakes episode of the BBC series Mountains.

Of course, he's best known of all for his regular contributions to the UKC forums.

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