Summit of Excellence

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David P Jones

David P. Jones soloing north ridge of Mt. Shipton © G. Bose

Presented at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival since 1987, the annual Summit of Excellence Award has recognized an individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies. 

In 2016, the award was expanded to recognize an individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in Canada.  The 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.

New for 2017, the award will be presented onstage on opening weekend - Sunday evening, October 29.


2016 Recipient: David P. Jones

David P Jones

David P. Jones soloing north ridge of Mt. Shipton © G. Bose

There are many people who love the mountains and have rich and wonderful adventures in them; there are far fewer who truly live mountains, have the threads of adventure woven fully through the fabric of their lives, and create adventures for the rest of us.

Few people fit that second class of climber better than Golden B.C.'s David Jones.  If you have hiked, or skied, or sport climbed, or ascended a peak in Canada's mountain west, there's every chance you could do so because David Jones was there before you.

For more than half a century, Dave has been one of the great spirits of our country's mountains.  He's dreamed and mapped and flagged numerous trails through the Interior, giving the rest of us access to ranges that we'd likely otherwise never have entered.  In an unparalleled record, he's made the first ascents of nearly a hundred unclimbed peaks from the Coast Range to the Rockies to the great northern mountains of Kluane, many of them by notably hard routes, and he's made more than 100 first ascents of new routes on previously ascended mountains.  He's been just as active a contributor to the world of rock climbing as well, pioneering some 250 sport routes across southern B.C.

As impressive as Dave's accomplishments have been, he's chosen, and managed, to fly mostly under the radar - and nowhere has this been truer than when it comes to his record on the great mountains: Dave has made four ascents of Canada's highest peak, Mount Logan - twice by new routes.  His first ascent of Logan's massive and complex Warbler Ridge was a 27-day epic that remains unrepeated after 40 years.  Dave also blazed Canadian trails in the Himalaya; he was the first Canadian to climb above 8000-metres, first on the world's fifth highest peak, Makalu, where he came within just a few hundred metres of the summit via a new line up the hardest wall of the mountain; and then in 1981, on Everest, when conditions stopped him just below the top on what would have been the first Canadian ascent.

Few people know Canada's mountain west better than David Jones.  He matched his prodigious exploration with meticulous cataloging of peaks and their climbs - and this commitment naturally led to a role as an author of several climbing guidebooks, beginning with a series of guides to his beloved Selkirk Ranges, and now expanded to the mammoth job of updating the long-out-of-print guides to the Rockies.  The first volume of the new Rockies series came out this year, and it stands a beautiful testament to David's love, skill, and commitment.  Like his Selkirk guides, Rockies Central is precise, complete, articulate - and best of all, inspiring; his thankless years of work have already started to spark projects for a new generation of alpinists.

David's commitment to exploration, discovery, and pushing started young.  Raised outside of Revelstoke B.C., Dave was surrounded by mountains, and itched to explore.  "At twelve and half," Jones says, "I really wanted to go to the Seattle World's Fair, and I kept bugging my father.  He got fed up and finally said, 'Well, why don't you goddamn walk?'"  Jones took that as permission to go, and he and a friend rode three-speed bikes all the way from Revelstoke to Seattle, taking ten days to get there.  That journey, it turned out, would be quintessentially Jonesian; a grand cardio adventure that few others would dare to conceive, just because he wanted to see if it could be done.  Dave followed it with decades and decades of deep backcountry exploration with exactly the same flavour.

56 years later, now retired from his job as the Assistant Director of the Industrial Liaison Office at UBC, and now back living in the Interior, he hasn't slowed at all.  Retirement has meant double the days in the mountains, and his work on the guidebooks has kept him keener and busier than ever.  He's often out soloing lines, but he's often tied in with his wife, Joie Seagram, who's also a fine climber, and who, well into her 60's, just returned from her third expedition to an 8000-metre Himalayan peak.

This year, the scope of the Bill March Summit of Excellence Award was opened to recognize climbers from across the country, and there are very few people who deserve to be recognized for a national contribution to our mountains as much as David P. Jones.

The 2016 Summit of Excellence Award is sponsored by Norseman Outdoor Specialist and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.


Norseman Outdoor Specialist and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures are pleased to join Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in celebrating mountain life in Canada by sponsoring the 2016 Summit of Excellence Award:

"We are honored to be a part of this community of incredible people who share our passion and long-term commitment to understanding, enjoying, and protecting our local mountains.  It is our respect and love for the natural world that compels us to connect with it, as well as to educate and outfit others so they can experience its rewards while understanding the importance of the responsibility we all share in preserving it."

Nomination Information

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, July 14, 2017
  • Award will be announced to the public at the end of September
  • Award will be presented onstage on opening weekend - Sunday evening, October 29.

Nomination Guidelines

  • Nominators are encouraged to read profiles of past award winners
  • Nomination by a former award winner and/or additional community members will be considered assets
  • Each nomination should be submitted separately
  • Nominees must have demonstrated long-term commitment in their contribution to mountain life in Canada
  • 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 have significantly benefited the mountain community in Canada
  • 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
    • peer feedback
    • motivating or inspiring others

Submit your nomination