Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival


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2007 Summit of Excellence Award

Bernadette McDonald

Author, Climber, Festival Director

Bernadette McDonald

During almost 20 years at the helm of the Banff Mountain Festivals, Bernadette McDonald hosted a who’s who of mountaineering, outdoor adventure, filmmaking, photography, and literature, from Sir Edmund Hillary to Jon Krakauer to Reinhold Messner. McDonald was director of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, founding director of the Banff Mountain Book Festival, and expanded the scope of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which now travels to over 30 countries on seven continents.

In 2005, having edited and co-edited several books during her tenure with the Festivals, McDonald published I’ll Call You in Kathmandu, a biography of Elizabeth Hawley, the grande dame of Himalayan mountaineering reportage. The success of the Hawley book and the satisfaction she got from research and writing led her to step down from her position as vice president Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre. This year, she published Brotherhood of the Rope (The Mountaineers Books), a biography of eminent physician, high-altitude researcher, and mountaineer Dr. Charles Houston. She is currently at work on a biography of daredevil Slovenian alpinist Tomaz Humar.

McDonald served on film juries around the world, is a founding member of the International Alliance for Mountain Film, received the King Albert Mountain Award, and even addressed the United Nations during the International Year of Mountains.

“There is no one who has done more to contribute to the understanding of mountain culture in Banff, or in Canada, or likely any place in the mountain world, than Bernadette McDonald,” says Marty von Neudegg, director of corporate services at Canadian Mountain Holidays. “Aside from her professional accomplishments of being a first rate leader, creator, and writer, she is also an aficionado of these wonderful high places. She simply exudes passion for all things mountain in everything she does.” Bernadette has always been passionate about mountain life, finding time for climbing, backcountry skiing, horse trips, hiking, and canoeing. McDonald and her husband Alan now divide their time between their home in Banff and a new vineyard they’re establishing near Naramata in B.C.’s Okanagan region.

Summit of Excellence Past Award Winners