American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

In Brief: Notes from the Banff Mountain Book Festival, 2005

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

The 2005 Banff Mountain Book Festival competition received more than 150 entries from eight countries. Although this was narrowed down to 39 finalists, it was one of the most impressive years in the 12-year history of the festival for quality writing in the mountain literature genre. To submit an entry into the competition, contact

A brief selection of the more noteworthy Banff books not reviewed in this AAJ:

Mountain Ranges of Colorado, John Fiedler (Westcliffe Publishers, $75.00) winner of the Best Book for Mountain Image. This coffee table book chronicles the 28 distinct ranges of Colorado’s southern Rockies. One jury member described it as “A wonderful testament to the observation that luck favors the prepared and persistent… A great eye coupled with wonderful technique and then married to a beautifully produced book.”

The Rage: Reflections on Risk, Steve De Maio (Rocky Mountain Publishing, $16.95) is a collection of essays and poetry that describe what De Maio calls “the rage”—a combination of strength, experience, focus, and rational analysis that saw him through first ascents in the Canadian Rockies in the late 1980s. One jury member described it as “Honest, personal, bold, and well-expressed reflections on the inner workings of one climber's mind.”

The Longest Climb: Back from the Abyss, Paul Pritchard (Constable and Robinson Ltd. 7.99) Picking up where The Totem Pole leaves off, this book describes Pritchard’s emotional and physical recovery after near death by rockfall and subsequent paralysis. The jury found it “continuously excellent and interesting.”

Bradford Washburn: An Extraordinary Life: The Autobiography of a Mountaineering Icon. Bradford Washburn and Lewis Freedman (Westwinds Press, 27.95). This accounting of “an extraordinary life and a life worth telling” is anecdotal in nature and foregrounds Washburn’s professional life, focusing more on early accomplishments. The jury found it “intrinsically interesting.”

Losing the Garden: the Story of a Marriage, Laura Waterman (Shoemaker & Hoard, $24.00) Laura Waterman’s view of life with her husband Guy who killed himself on Mt. Lafayette in midwinter. “A terribly compelling book” that describes “how this family lived in them [the mountains] and with them.” Described by a jury member as “Sad and hopeful at the same time.”

Bernadette McDonald, Director, Banff Mountain Festivals

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