Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival


Personal information on this form will be used for the purposes of providing you information regarding events and event-related items. This information is collected under the authority of the Post-Secondary Learning Act that mandates the programs and services offered by The Banff Centre and will be protected by the provisions of the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP).

For inquiries about the collection and use of this information or to remove your name from our contact list, please contact

Summit of
Excellence Award

Presented by the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival at The Banff Centre since 1987 and sponsored by Patagonia Banff, the annual Summit of Excellence Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies. It is presented in memory of Calgary climber Bill March, an internationally respected mountaineer, author, and educator, who led Canada's first successful Everest climb in 1982.

This year's selection committee included Joanna Croston, Programming Director of the Banff Mountain Festival, mountaineer Nancy Hansen, Bernadette McDonald, author and former vice president of Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, and climber and writer Geoff Powter. For more information on the award or to submit a nomination for 2015, visit

This year’s award was presented on Sunday, November 9, the closing night of the 2014 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

Climber Urs Kallen awarded 2014 Summit of Excellence
Awarded by The Banff Centre and Patagonia Banff

Urs Kallen
  1978 Attempt on Andromeda Strain © Urs Kallen

"Urs Kallen was born in Switzerland in 1943, and was an accomplished mountaineer by the time he arrived in Canada in 1965. After a year in Toronto, where he established new routes on the local crags, he moved west to Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.

Over the years Urs has built up a solid record of difficult climbs: first ascents of Mount Fay north face (1968), Mount Athabasca north face (1968), Mount Victoria north face (1969), Mount Patterson north face direct (1973); the first winter ascent of Stanley Peak north face (1969); second ascents of Balrog, the east face of Mount Babel and the north face of Chinaman's Peak; early repeats of the Beckey/Chouinard on South Howser Tower, the Supercouloir on Deltaform Mountain and the east face of Bugaboo Spire. However, Urs is best known for his new routes on Yamnuska. Climbing with Billy Davidson, he created CMC Wall in 1972 and Yellow Edge in 1974. These two aid routes were great achievements for their day. In 1997, with Jeff Marshall, he made a 25th anniversary ascent of CMC Wall, this time with no aid.

Urs recently philosophized, "The early climbs, when you just get into climbing, are the most impressive ones. Later on ... you go climbing looking for that same feeling, but you don't really get it any more ... You know too much, and the only way you can get that kind of experience is by pushing the difficulties." Urs is a rarity in the climbing community in that he has maintained a steady professional career over the years. He is one of Western Canada's foremost printers, and with his wife Gerda owns and operates Kallen Graphics. In March of 2000, Urs was made an honorary member of the Calgary Mountain Club."

Courtesy Chic Scott, from Pushing the Limits: The Story of Canadian Mountaineering, 2000

Kallen has never shied away from sharing his, or others, successes. In 1970, together with Brian Greenwood, he published the first guidebook in the Rockies titled Yamnuska. In 1977, Kallen released the second guidebook to the area. The 34 routes in the book became known as the Kallen 34, and it became a popular list for aspiring climbers to tick. In the mid-80s, Kallen and Dave Cheesmond produced two magazines titled Polar Circus at his printing press and company in Calgary called Kallen Graphics. More recently, he has teamed up with Brandon Pullan to complete a book called Bold and Cold, which he started with Cheesmond and Tim Friesen back in the 80s.

And he has not lost his desire to climb. He can be found on Monday nights at the University of Calgary climbing gym, and in the fall of 2014, Kallen discovered two long alpine routes he wants to return to and climb in 2015. He is happily married and spends his weekends climbing with friends or playing with his grandchildren. He still owns and operates Kallen Graphics.

Past recipients of the award include: Ben Gadd (2013), Geoff Powter (2012), Philippe Delesalle (2011), Peter Fuhrmann (2010), Sid Marty (2009), Don Vockeroth (2008), Bernadette McDonald (2007), Gill and Tony Daffern (2006), Glen Boles (2005), Craig Richards (2004), Willi Pfisterer (2003), Barry Blanchard (2002), Bob Sandford (2001), Chic Scott (2000), Guy Lacelle (1999), John Martin (1998), Sharon Wood (1997), Tim Auger (1996), Brian Greenwood (1995), Kiwi Gallagher (1994), Roger Vernon (1993), Jon Whyte (1992), Don Forest (1991), Pat Morrow (1990), Hans Gmoser (1989), Jim Davies (1988), and Bruno Engler (1987).

Nomination Information


  • The award was sponsored for 20 consecutive years by One Step Beyond Worldwide of Canmore. In 2007, that sponsorship was taken up by CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures.
    In 2014 we were joined by Patagonia Banff , who, upon accepting our invitation to sponsor the award, said:
    "Patagonia Banff is proud to support the 2014 Summit of Excellence, an award with a storied legacy of recognizing those writers, alpinists, teachers, artists, guides, historians and conservationists who have made remarkable contributions to life in these mountains that many are fortunate to call home. The unifying dynamic of these past winners is their passion for the Canadian Rockies, and through their actions and efforts they have often mirrored Patagonia's belief in the rewards that come through connecting humans with nature, and in recognizing that our love of wild and beautiful places also comes with a responsibility to participate in the fight to save them."

Award Logistics

  • One award is given annually
  • An individual or group of individuals is eligible to be nominated
  • An individual may not nominate him/herself

Award Timeline

  • Deadline for nominations is Friday, June 26, 2015
  • Award will be announced to the public at the end of September
  • Award will be presented onstage at the 2015 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

Nomination Guidelines

  • Nominees must have demonstrated long-term commitment in their contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies
  • Nominators are encouraged to read profiles of past award winners
  • The endorsement of a nomination by a former award winner and/or additional community members will be considered assets
  • Nominations should include:
    • the nominator’s contact information
    • the nominee’s contact information if possible
    • the nature and time period of the nominator’s relationship with the nominee
  • Nominees may include but are not limited to those making contributions in areas such as mountain sport, mountain environment, mountain culture, mountain art, or mountain science
  • Nominations should clearly describe how the nominee’s accomplishments significantly benefit the mountain community in the Canadian Rockies
  • Nominations should include descriptions of some or all of the following:
    • level of contribution
    • longevity of service
    • impact to sport/environment/culture/art/science (for example – did the nominee help to elevate their field?)
    • demonstration of excellence
    • positive attitude
    • peer feedback
    • motivating or inspiring others

Submission options

Nominations may be sent via email, fax, regular mail, or courier.

Please include in the subject field:
“Nominee’s Last Name, First Name: Summit of Excellence Award nomination”

Please include the following on the cover page:
“Nominee’s Last Name, First Name: Summit of Excellence Award nomination”

Regular Mail
Summit of Excellence Award
℅ Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
The Banff Centre
PO Box 1020
Banff, AB T1L 1H5

Summit of Excellence Award
℅ Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
The Banff Centre
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, AB T1L 1H5

Summit of Excellence Past Award Winners


Patagonia Banff