2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition Winners Announced

© Banff Centre

The winners of the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition have been announced. Among the winners are two British publications: Waymaking, edited by Helen Mort, Claire Carter, Heather Dawe, and Camilla Barnard, and The Equilibrium Line by David Wilson.

2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition winners.  © Banff Centre
2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition winners.
© Banff Centre

The 2019 Book Competition jury members are Paul McSorley (CAN, climber and writer of Alpine Justice Blog), Helen Mort (UK, writer, editor, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature), and Nandini Purandare (IND, writer, editor of the Himalayan Journal, and an avid trekker in the Himalayas). The Grand Prize will be announced during the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival on Thursday 31st October.

Category Award Winners

Mountain Literature (non-fiction) – The Jon Whyte Award

Waymaking: An Anthology of Women's Adventure Writing, Poetry and Art
Helen Mort, Claire Carter, Heather Dawe, and Camilla Barnard, Vertebrate Publishing (UK, 2018)

"This superb collection of women's short stories, poems, and illustrations is full of gems from end to end. Waymaking is an immersion into the tears, giggles, sighs, and love that have gone into producing this precious yet ground-breaking work."

– Paul McSorley, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Festival Director's Note: Book Jury member Helen Mort abstained from the discussion and selection of the Mountain Literature Award as she is in a conflict of interest position.

Mountain Fiction and Poetry

The Equilibrium Line
David Wilson, The Poetry Business (UK, 2019)

"David Wilson's lyric poems are beautifully-crafted, heartfelt, and extremely relatable. They chart a lifetime's fascination with rock climbing and mountaineering, and pay homage to presiding spirits in the climbing world. Each poem is like a first climb – full of fear and joy and gratitude."

– Helen Mort, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Mountain Environment and Natural History

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear
Bryce Andrews, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (USA, 2019)

"It's hard to believe that a book on conservation can be a chilling page turner but that's what Down from
the Mountain is. It is a cry to save the grizzly, to save the forest that is home to the grizzly, to reverse the
changing climate that is destroying its habitat, and finally a cry against the enormous cruelty that we are
capable of. This book will haunt you."

– Nandini Purandare, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Adventure Travel

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds
Caroline Van Hemert, Little, Brown Spark (USA, 2019)

"Van Hemert's six month, 4000 mile, odyssey along the Pacific Coastal Ranges and into the Alaskan wilderness, is the very definition of rugged. This book is a candid insight into the struggles of harmonizing her work as a scientist with human partnership, and ultimately finding Home in the wilderness. Fantastic!"

– Paul McSorley, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Mountain Image

The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim
Pete McBride, Rizzoli International Publications (USA, 2018)

"The scale and quality of the images do justice to the stunning landscape. The devil is in the detail – McBride finds it through his lens as well as his pen. He captures the textures of the canyon; he looks for the signs of changing seasons, he grows as he walks through its passages."

– Nandini Purandare, 2019 Book Competition Jury


Aoraki – Tai Poutini: A Guide for Mountaineers
Robert Frost, New Zealand Alpine Club (NZ, 2018)

"Rob's Guide is thorough, with a comprehensive history of the regions characters and pioneers. The routes are described clearly and well illustrated, but the adventure isn't spoiled by too much blow by blow beta. I look forward to pulling this book out of my rucksack when I finally get the chance to climb in this world class arena."

– Paul McSorley, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Mountaineering Article

Thirteen Feet Under
Jayme Moye, Alpinist Magazine (USA, June 2019)

"Part analysis, part thriller, Jayme Moye's account of a remarkable avalanche rescue is completely immersive. This is an amazing story, but it's also an uncanny and sombre reflection on the line between life and death, an insight into the imagination of those who risk their lives in the mountains. Moye's writing is deft, compassionate and extremely compelling."

– Helen Mort, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Climbing Literature

Inner Ranges: An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People
Geoff Powter, Rocky Mountain Books (Canada, 2018)

"The intense but complex relationship between mountains and those who climb them comes alive in this collection of essays. Geoff Powter draws vivid sketches of climbers and writes haunting stories, along with a good deal of self-examination. They are indeed a study of the psyche of climbers in different settings but pitted alongside mountains – within and without."

– Nandini Purandare, 2019 Book Competition Jury

Special Jury Mention

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race
Lara Prior-Palmer, Catapult (USA, 2019)

"A dazzlingly original debut written in a style as exhilarating and unpredictable as the journey it describes – a thousand miles across Mongolian grassland riding wild ponies. Lara Prior Palmer's account of becoming the first female winner of the Mongol Derby is humble, hilarious, and passionate. Hers is an exciting new voice in adventure travel."

– Helen Mort, 2019 Book Competition jury

Special Jury Mention

Caribou Rainforest: From Heartbreak to Hope
David Moskowitz, Mountaineers Books (USA, 2018)

"A visual love letter to the caribou and their habitat, this book combines text with arresting images to powerful effect, showing how interdependent life is. It is an extraordinary achievement, the result of a lifetime's commitment to exploring mountain environments, and protecting their future."

– Helen Mort, 2019 Book Competition jury

Grand Prize – the Phyllis and Don Munday Award

The shortlist of category award winners above are eligible for the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will be announced Thursday 31st October at Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival where category awards will also be presented to winning authors.

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