Mountain guide and avalanche safety specialist Grant Statham wins 2022 Summit of Excellence Award

Image courtesy of Grant Statham (Wapta Icefields 2017)

Image courtesy of Grant Statham (Wapta Icefields 2017)

BANFF, AB, October 6, 2022 – Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival is proud to announce that pioneering mountain guide and avalanche safety specialist, Grant Statham is the recipient of the 2022 Summit of Excellence Award.

The Award celebrates long-term contributions, service, and demonstrated impact within the mountain culture community in Canada by an individual or group from across the country.

With 35 years of wide-ranging experience in alpine and avalanche risk management and critical incident response, Statham has an extensive background in climbing and skiing, on-the-ground emergency first response, leading the Government of Canada critical incident response actions and private sector consulting for incident investigations, risk assessments, and program risk reviews.

As a young ACMG mountain guide at the age of 24, Statham worked his first 16 years in the outdoor industry ski patrolling, guiding rock, ice and alpine climbing, ski touring, helicopter skiing, expedition climbing, teaching avalanche courses, and working as an avalanche consultant. Beginning in 2003, Statham has been guiding part-time and working for Parks Canada, first as their Avalanche and Mountain Risk Specialist, and since 2013 as a Visitor Safety Specialist where he often has to climb or access extremely difficult routes via a helicopter sling to rescue those in peril. 

Statham has taken on the role of post-incident liaison with family members, along with developing first responder mental health programs for Banff National Park. In 2019, Statham was part of a team that led the difficult search and recovery operations on Howse Peak where Jess Roskelley, David Lama, and Hansjörg Auer tragically died attempting a second ascent of the route, M16.  For this work he was awarded the CEO’s Award of Excellence by Parks Canada.

Statham is perhaps most recognized as a pioneer and leader in avalanche safety. Following the tragic avalanche deaths of 2003 at Roger’s Pass, he was responsible for conducting Parks Canada’s Backcountry Avalanche Risk Review and he subsequently developed and implemented the polices and regulations around Custodial Groups in the National Parks. At the same time, he led the development of the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale, North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale, Conceptual Model of Avalanche Hazard, and the AvalX public forecasting system, the main tools and resources still used by avalanche forecasters and in public avalanche bulletins in Canada and worldwide.

He helped found Avalanche Canada, has been an Adjunct Professor since 2016 at Simon Fraser University, and an alpine risk management consultant since 2013. He is the author of dozens of papers, conference proceedings and articles on the subject of avalanches, risk, and snow safety.

Statham continues to work as an avalanche risk advisor with all levels of government and the private sector, having written many consultancy reports in Canada as well as New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and Japan. Statham has written expert reports to legal and investigative teams in military, public and private sector incident investigations.

Through all this, Statham has maintained his passion for climbing and skiing and is recognized as a friend and mentor to many.

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 Helen Sovdat (2021), Raphael Slawinski (2020), David Smart (2019), Jacques Olek (2018), Don Serl (2017), David P. Jones (2016), Pierre Lemire (2015), Urs Kallen (2014), Ben Gadd (2013), and Geoff Powter (2012).

The 2022 Summit of Excellence Award is sponsored by Norseman Outdoor Specialist and Mammut. The award will be presented during the Festival on Saturday, October 29, 7:30 PM in the Jenny Belzberg Theatre.

The Festival schedule is available to view online. Tickets and passes are on sale (early bird online film passes $125 CAD, available until October 15. Festival in Banff tickets $18 - $50 available at Banff Centre Box Office and our partner venues at Lux Cinema Banff and artsPlace Canmore). Find out more about the 2022 Festival here.

If you’d like to provide media coverage of the 2022 Festival, please submit a media accreditation application form (submissions open until October 10). 

For more information or image requests, please contact:

Jess Elliott
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 47 years ago, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The nine-day Festival hosted by 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 2022 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival Presenting Partners are: Rab, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, and BUFF®. The Festival is also sponsored by Oboz Footwear, Yeti, World Expeditions, Kicking Horse Coffee, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola, Lowe Alpine, Doña Paula, and Park Distillery.

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.