Banff Mountain Book Competition 2022 - The Winners

© Banff Centre

The 2022 winners of the prestigious Banff Mountain Book Competition have been announced. These winners will go on to compete for the Grand Prize on 3 November at this year's Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada. 

The 2022 Banff Mountain Book Competition winners.  © Banff Centre
The 2022 Banff Mountain Book Competition winners.
© Banff Centre

The book competition is an internationally recognised literary competition that celebrates mountain literature in all its forms. Over $20,000 in cash is awarded annually with eight awards: mountain literature (non-fiction), mountain fiction and poetry, environmental literature, adventure travel, mountain image, guidebook, mountain article, and climbing literature.

The eight category award winners were selected by an international jury from a longlist of 28 finalists (chosen from a total of 166 book submissions, from authors across 11 countries).

One book by a British author, The Fox of Glencoe, by the late Hamish MacInnes (edited by Deziree Wilson/published by Scottish Mountaineering Press) was recognised in this year's awards.

The 2022 Book Competition jury members are Natalie Berry (UK, editor of, and former GB climbing team member), Claire Cameron (Canada, author of The Bear (2014), The Last Neanderthal (2017), and outdoor enthusiast), and Chris Kalman (USA, author of The Index Town Walls: A Guide to Washington's Finest Crag (2017), As Above, So Below (2019), Dammed If You Don't (2021), and climber).

Category Award Winners

Mountain Literature (non-fiction) – The Jon Whyte Award
$2500 – Sponsored by The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
The Fox of Glencoe
Hamish MacInnes, Scottish Mountaineering Press (UK, 2021)

"'Few people cram as much into a lifetime as Hamish did,' editor Deziree Wilson writes. Spanning nine decades of life, The Fox of Glencoe is a deftly edited tribute to the late Scottish mountaineer Hamish MacInnes, highlighting the legacy of a dedicated and talented polymath. MacInnes was a climber, writer, explorer, mountain rescuer, film safety advisor, and inventor. Wilson has artfully arranged his understated, humorous, and self-deprecating writings and breathed new life into Scottish mountaineering history, literature, and culture."

– Natalie Berry, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Mountain Fiction & Poetry
$2500 – Sponsored by the Town of Banff
Native Air
Jonathan Howland, Green Writers Press (USA, 2022)

"I think of a classic climb as one where, after topping out, I immediately want to climb it again. I've read this novel, a story about two best friends who are also climbing partners, twice so far. The first time I became lost in the complexity of the relationships, the heartbreak, the full love, and the bid for repair. The second time I read it for the technical precision, the tension of incomplete ambitions, and the unbearably elegant structure. This novel is a classic. It will be read and loved again and again."

– Claire Cameron, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Environmental Literature
$2500 – Sponsored by Canadian Mountain Network
Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water
Kazim Ali, Milkweed Editions (USA, 2022), Goose Lane Editions (Canada, 2022)

"Northern Light is the story of a queer Muslim poet, the son of political refugees from India, who travels back to his childhood home in northern Manitoba to revisit the Pimicikamak people whose way of life was ravaged by the dam his father helped build. While that sounds like a logline from a film adaptation of a book of literary fiction, Northern Light is very much nonfiction, and a deeply grounded exercise in straightforward reporting. The result is a book which manages to bridge difficult gaps: a story that is equal parts sobering and inviting, prosaic and poetic, devastating and subtly optimistic. Everything about the book feels brave, as author Kazim Ali resolves to expose and celebrate the light in places where all too often, the prevailing cultural narrative sees only darkness."

– Chris Kalman, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Adventure Travel
$2500 – Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Books
A Year in the Woods: Twelve Small Journeys into Nature
Torbjørn Ekelund, Greystone Books (Canada, 2021)

"Whether you love or hate Henry David Thoreau, chances are, you would approach a self-described "Walden for modern times" with some degree of scepticism. I certainly did. I wasn't sure Walden was outdated yet. Do we really need a new one? After reading this book, I have to say yes, we do. A Year in the Woods offers us a clear and tangible alternative to the often oversaturated way we tend to think about adventure and adventurers. You don't have to summit K2 to plumb the depths of the human soul or endure a twenty-day silent meditation retreat to get in touch with your inner child. There is so much to gain by setting simple achievable goals and seeing them through—especially when the goal is to take a short walk into the woods, sit around, and see what you see."

– Chris Kalman, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Mountain Image
$2500 – Sponsored by Mountain Life
Forest for the Trees: The Tree Planters
Rita Leistner, Dewi Lewis Publishing (UK, 2021)

"As an ex-tree planter, I never thought I'd find the spirit of the job captured between covers and printed on pulped trees. The photographer's commitment, she lived in the mountains camps with her subjects, allowed her to document the horrors and the heroes of the forest industry. The planters are shown in striking poses, almost god-like in the flash, or framed by a clear-cut, but also in gritty detail, the grime of a fingernail, a swollen eyelid, and a duct-taped boot. This book is a work of art made by hard work."

– Claire Cameron, 2022 Book Competition Jury

$2500 – Sponsored by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
The Packraft Handbook
Luc Mehl, Mountaineers Books (USA, 2022)

"This book is to the burgeoning and exciting sport of packrafting what "Freedom of the Hills" has long been for mountaineering: a foundational tome, an encyclopaedic body of knowledge for beginners and experts alike, a book that will surely stand the test of time. Compelling writing, excellent photography, and superb illustrations combine to make this an exceptional guidebook. Most importantly, it is a treatise on risk taking and risk assessment. It is not an exaggerated claim to say that this book will actually save lives."

– Chris Kalman, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Mountain Article
$2500 – Sponsored by Fjällräven
'The Girl in the Gully'
Astra Lincoln, Climbing Magazine (USA, September 2022)

"'I can climb because in my life, risk is a punctuation mark. It is not every letter in every word.' In the Girl in the Gully, the helplessness of both the migrant and writer Astra Lincoln as they meet in the Sonoran desert is palpable. A deeply moving, sensitive, and brave essay, which highlights that for some, escaping to the mountains is not a privilege but an act of desperation. The author wrestles with her guilt for doing no more than leaving water, but in bearing witness and writing
this piece, Lincoln raises awareness of migration issues. Her story reminds us of the absurdity of living for risk-taking, while others attempt merely to survive ongoing risks to their lives—and that no matter how far we run or climb, we cannot escape politics and policy."

– Natalie Berry, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Climbing Literature
$2500 – Sponsored by MEC
Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing
Lauren DeLaunay Miller, Mountaineers Books (USA, 2022)

"A much-needed anthology, this book highlights the stories of women in Yosemite from 1930 to the present. The contributions come from a wide range of climbers, a world-renowned soloist, a mother, a microbiologist, a daughter, a tribe member, a quiet expert and a first-time climber. Some stories are already famous, others are previously untold, but all add a fresh perspective to the lore of the valley. The stories build on one another, each one lends depth and history to the next, and when combined, they show how voices are strongest when they join together."

– Claire Cameron, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Special Jury Mention
Javier Corso and Alex Rodal, Oak Stories (Spain, 2021)

"Bound in a format called leporello, this gorgeous book combines photos, a narrative about a mountain goddess, and a legend. It can be read in three different ways, opened like an accordion, or by one of two covers and read in different directions. A work of art and archive in equal parts, each element of the book unfolds to complement the others. The result is a tactile experience that gives cultural and historical insight into the Matagi community."

– Claire Cameron, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Special Jury Mention
Imaginary Peaks: The Riesenstein Hoax and Other Mountain Dreams
Katie Ives, Mountaineers Books (USA, 2021)

"'For many climbers, at times both unexpected and ecstatic, boundaries between outer and inner worlds seem to dissolve.' An erudite, elegant book for dreamers and fans of mountain literature, history, hoaxes, cartography, and adventure. In Imaginary Peaks: The Riesenstein Hoax and Other Mountain Dreams, Katie Ives charts our fascination with the blank spaces on maps and imagined realms and how these fabled mountains of the mind influence storytelling and culture. It's a beautifully crafted, meticulously researched, and poetic exploration of human reverie, mythology, and desire."

– Natalie Berry, 2022 Book Competition Jury

Grand Prize
$5000 – Sponsored by the Alpine Club of Canada
The shortlist of category award winners above are eligible for the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will be announced Thursday November 3, 2022.

Read more about the competition here.

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