Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Competition announces 2019 Summit of Excellence Award winner, influential rock climber and writer David Smart

BANFF, AB, September 19, 2019 – Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival is proud to announce David Smart as the recipient of the 2019 Summit of Excellence Award, which recognizes an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in Canada.

Throughout his climbing career, Smart has been a prolific Canadian rock climbing route developer – climbing over three hundred new routes in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. He is also an established author of seven published books, and magazine founder/editorial director of Gripped; Canada’s Climbing Magazine.

“I am honoured to receive this award from Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival, which has done so much for mountain culture. It is thrilling to think of being in the company of all of the great members of our community who have been awarded the Summit of Excellence Award in the past. I receive it with gratitude towards all those who I climbed with, everyone who supported my writing and especially my partner at Gripped, Sam Cohen, my publishers, Don Gorman and Jerry Auld, and my readers.”

 – David Smart

Born in Etobicoke, Ontario, Smart started climbing in 1975 when he was 13 years old at nearby Rattlesnake Point. His early climbing partners included Yosemite regulars George Manson and Tom Gibson and soon he was travelling frequently to the Gunks in New York state. On his first trips to Yosemite Valley he climbed the Nose of El Capitan, the Northwest Face of Half Dome and other classic long routes.

He lived in Calgary in the early 80s where he developed a love for Yamnuska and the classic rock of the Rockies. He has also climbed in the Eastern and Western Alps and throughout the UK and Europe, and continues to love discovering new climbing.

Smart fell in love with climbing books at the local public library. “I first came across the wider world of publishing through the medium of climbing literature, and I have always seen writing about mountaineering and climbing as an important discipline within the sport,” says Smart. “As a kid, I always assumed that Chris Bonington, David Roberts, Gaston Rebuffat, Doug Scott and Royal Robbins and the rest were the best climbers because I could read their books.”

He published his first guidebook The Niagara Escarpment, in 1984 and it went into two more editions. He also published Ontario’s Finest Rock Climbs and a guidebook to Devil’s Rock in Northern Ontario. His memoir, A Youth Wasted Climbing, was shortlisted for the Mountain Literature Award in the 2016 Banff Mountain Book Competition. He has also published two historical novels on climbing, Above the Reich (2017), and Cinema Vertigo (2018). His new book, Paul Preuss, Lord of the Abyss (2019) is a biography of the Austrian climber and has been longlisted for both the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards and the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature.

Smart has loved magazines his whole life. He has written for Climbing, Rock and Ice, Alpinist and the Canadian Alpine Journal. In 1999, with fellow climber Sam Cohen, he founded Gripped; Canada’s Climbing Magazine. The company now owns four titles and Smart is the editorial director. Gripped’s print and digital properties still remain robust and growing after almost twenty years. “I was proud to be able to provide a magazine that offered a voice for the Canadian climbing scene in which I made my own life,” says Smart.

Presented by Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival since 1987, the annual Summit of Excellence Award 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. Recent award recipients include Jacques Olek (2018), Don Serl (2017), David P. Jones (2016), Pierre Lemire (2015), Urs Kallen (2014), Ben Gadd (2013), and Geoff Powter (2012).

The 2019 Summit of Excellence Award is sponsored by Norseman Outdoor Specialist and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. The award will be presented at the opening night at this year’s Festival on Saturday, October 26.

For more information on the 2019 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival and to view the schedule, please visit

If you’d like to provide media coverage of the 2019 Festival, please submit a media accreditation application form (submissions open until October 1).

For more information please contact:          

Jess Green
Media and Communications
Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, Alberta
T1L 1H5        

About Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival: Created 44 years ago, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The nine-day Festival at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Canada, showcases the world’s best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment and natural history, exploration and adventure, wildlife, and sport – and attracts the biggest names in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and explorers as presenters and speakers. An international jury will also award over $40,000 in prizes for films and books submitted to this year’s Festival competitions. 

Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival Partners: The 2019 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival Presenting Partners are: Rab and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism. The Festival is also sponsored by Deuter, Clif Bar & Company, Mountain House, Oboz Footwear, Yeti, BUFF®, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Kathmandu, Smartwool, NOLS, World Expeditions, Kicking Horse Coffee, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola, and MEC.

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home on Treaty 7 territory in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach.