BANFF - British Guidebooks on Top of the World

The awards season is upon us and it has begun well for British guidebooks. The Vertebrate Publishing book Peak District Bouldering has won the new guidebook category award at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival beating Mark Glaister's Rockfax guidebook West Country Climbs, and Dave Flanagan's book Bouldering in Ireland which were the other two finalists. So this international award was basically contested between three books from the British Isles!

Front cover. Low Rider at Stanage. Photo: Dave Parry, 123 kb

John Coefield of Vertebrate Publishing said, "To say we're made up would be a massive understatement. A huge amount of time and effort was poured into this book, really beginning as soon as the original guide was published in 2005, with the documentation of new problems and new areas by Rupert. This built up in the 18 months before publication, as we visited crags, revisited them and visited them some more. This guide, and consequently the award, wouldn't have been possible without the support we received from local activists, who helped us out with their local crags, checked scripts and generally offered invaluable feedback. Likewise we're indebted to our excellent photographers who helped illustrate the guide so beautifully. Given the strength of the shortlist for this year's prize – all books from the British Isles – and the high quality of recently published climbing guides, I think the future of British climbing guidebook publishing is very bright. And that can only be a good thing."

France : Cote d'Azur Rockfax Cover, 147 kb

Although the Guidebook category is new at this year's Banff Festival, guidebooks were previously included in the Mountain Exposition Category. This was dominated by British guidebooks from 2006 to 2008 with the BMC Burbage guidebook, Rockfax Deep Water and Rockfax Lofoten winning on successive years, and Rockfax Western Grit guide being a finalist in 2010.

The success doesn't stop there though. Chris Craggs' book Cote d'Azur has received a 'Highly commended' accolade this year's Outdoor Writers' Guild award for best guidebook. Chris has won this award on three previous occasions with a Rockfax guidebook. His previous winners were Peak Gritstone East (2001), Western Grit (2003) and Lofoten (2009)..

Back in 1995 one magazine published an article forecasting the end of British guidebooks as we knew them. Well it seems they may have been right and we can safely say that British guidebooks have never been in better shape.

Freedom Climbers, 77 kb

The Other Book Winners at Banff

The Grand Prize went to Freedom Climbers by Bernadette McDonald, the story of how Polish climbers emerged after the 2nd World War and the rigours of the Russian occupation to dominate high altitude mountaineering.

Best Book - Mountain and Wilderness Literature went to Murder in the High Himalaya by Jonathan Green. This is the unforgettable account of the brutal killing of a 17-year-old Tibetan nun fleeing to India, by Chinese border guards which was witnessed by dozens of Western climbers. It is not to be confused with another book from this year, Murder in the Hindu Kush by Tim Hannigan, a story of George Hayward's and the conflicting stories surrounding his murder in the Hindu Kush.

Adventure Travel winner was The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler.

Mountain Image winner was Unexpected: Thirty Years of Patagonia Photography by Jennifer Ridgeway and Jane Sievert.

Mountaineering History winner was Desert Towers by Steve Bartlett.

and a Special Jury Mention went to Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith.

Several of these books also feature in the Boardman Tasker 2011 Shortlist which will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival 2011 - read more here.

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