Banff Mountain Book Competition announces 2019 category award winners

BANFF, AB, October 10, 2019 – Banff Mountain Book Competition unveils category award winners set to compete for the Book Competition’s Grand Prize on October 31 at this year’s Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.

The eight category award winners are selected by our international jury from a longlist of 29 finalists (chosen from a total of 132 book submissions, with authors from across 9 countries)  offering the best writing in mountain literature, mountain fiction and poetry, mountain environment and natural history, adventure travel, mountain image, guidebooks, mountaineering articles, and climbing literature.

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).

Category Award Winners

Mountain Literature (non-fiction) – The Jon Whyte Award
$2000 – Sponsored by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
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
$2000 – Sponsored by the Town of Banff
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
$2000 – Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Soap Company
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
$2000 – Sponsored by Fjällräven
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
$2000 – Sponsored by Lake O’Hara Lodge
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

$2000 – Sponsored by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
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
$2000 – Sponsored by the University of Alberta and the Alpine Club of Canada
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
$2000 – Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Books
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
$4000 – 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, October 31, 2019 at Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival where category awards will also be presented to winning authors.

Authors in attendance for this year’s Festival include Craig Childs (Atlas of a Lost World), Frank Wolf (Lines on a Map), Mark Twight (Refuge), Jeff Smoot (Hangdog Days), Kate Rawles (The Life Cycle), Sharon Wood (Rising), Corey Rich (Stories Behind the Images), Mark Synnott (The Impossible Climb), and Caroline Van Hemert (The Sun is a Compass).

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.

For more information and image requests, 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.