Never mind the Booker, here’s the Boardman Tasker shortlist

Posted by Tony Ryan on 11/09/2014
Main image: Boardman and Tasker on the West Ridge of Kangchenjunga. Photo: Doug Scott

Stories of extreme free soloing, the Irish contribution to the early years of climbing in the Alps, a look back at Australia’s ‘New Wave’ generation of the 1970s and 80s, and an insider’s account of British climbing’s golden age are amongst the books vying for this year’s Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature.

The £3,000 prize commemorates the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker, who disappeared on Everest in 1982 whilst attempting the unclimbed North East Ridge. As well as leaving a climbing record of bold, lightweight ascents on high Himalayan peaks, Pete and Joe left behind a fine literary legacy including Savage Arena, Shining Mountain, Sacred Summits, and Everest the Cruel Way. Peter also had a close association with the BMC, working as National Officer from 1972 to 1974.

41 entries were submitted this year, from which judges Audrey Salkeld (Chair), Chris Harle and Robin Campbell have selected the following books for the shortlist:

Tears of the Dawn by Julian Lines
Tells of his three decades of extreme climbing, much of it solo; a riveting read and often very scary. Make sure to have a chalk bag to hand!

My Father, Frank: Unresting Spirit of Everest by Tony Smythe
The son of mountaineer, writer, photographer and broadcaster Frank Smythe opens a window into Frank's sometimes unsettled home life as well as his mountaineering exploits.

In Search of Peaks, Passes & Glaciers: Irish Pioneers in the Alps and Beyond by Frank Nugent
Reveals the significant Irish contribution to early Alpine history, and provides absorbing insights into nineteenth-century Irish society by examining the varied social, political and scientific backgrounds of Irish Alpine pioneers.

Nanga Parbat 1970: Tragedy & Controversy by Richard Sale& Jochen Hemmleb
Useful round-up of all the accusations, rebuttals and new evidence that have followed the ill-fated first ascent of the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat by Reinhold Messner and his brother Gunther, during which Gunther was lost on the mountain as the pair attempted to descend the Diamar Face on the other side of the mountain.

Law Unto Himself by Michael Law
Compelling autobiography of one of the most talented of Australia's now legendary 'New Wave' generation of the 1970s and 80s, which also provides a comprehensive history of this period of Aussie activity.

Hanging On: A Life Inside British Climbing’s Golden Age by Martin Boysen
Wry, laconic and self-deprecating, Boysen’s autobiography is an insider’s account of British climbing’s golden age, and includes the discovery of Gogarth in the 1960s and big Himalayan expeditions in the 1970s.

And the winner...

...of the 2014 Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature will be announced at a prizegiving ceremony in November at the Kendal Mountain Festival, along with the winner of the Boardman Tasker Young Writer Prize, whose story will be published in Summit magazine.



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