I hope you’re ready to expand your reading list.
Going into this event at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival on November 1, I was really curious about how the panel would make a choice for the best mountain book ever written. How does one even go about making such a claim? What would the criteria be for making the choice?
As it turned out, there was no criteria set for the panel. Instead, each panelist had to create his or her own criteria, and then use that to choose “the book.”
The panel, moderated by Alpinist Editor-in-Chief, Katie Ives, included outdoor writer and climber, Jon Popowich; Professor in the Department of English at the University of Calgary, Harry Vandervlist; author Bernadette MacDonald; climber and writer, Stephen Venables; and climber, writer and psychologist, Geoff Powter.
Some panelists chose their books based on a more objective set of criteria, using factors such as the book’s ongoing relevancy beyond time and place, and its accuracy, while others used a more subjective set of criteria. Did the book draw them back? How often did they take it off the shelf? What role has that book played in their life? Despite varying criteria, they all agreed that a book needs to be well written. It can be the most epic story of the century, but if it isn’t well written it didn’t make the cut.
All of the panelists chose a number of books, but mentioned one or two as his or her top choice. Here’s the final list…
The Best Mountain Book Ever Written
Click on the first thumbnail to view slideshow:
Other books that were mentioned by the panel (among many!):
The Mountain of My Fear, David Roberts
The White Spider, Heinrich Harrer
Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna, Lionel Terray
The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek, Sid Marty
K2: The Story of the Savage Mountain, Jim Curran
The Seventh Grade, Reinhold Messner
One Man’s Mountains: Essays and Verses, Tom Patey
Freedom Climbers, Bernadette MacDonald
Solo Faces, James Salter
A Hunter of Peace: Mary T.S. Schaffer’s Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies, Mary Schaffer
That Untravelled World, Eric Shipton
Thin Air: Encounters in the Himalayas, Greg Child
Summits and Secrets, Kurt Diemberger
Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber, Mark Twight
In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods, Galen Rowell
Beyond the Mountain, Steve House
What do you think the best mountain book is?