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Award Winners of the Banff Mountain Book Festival
Adventure Travel Category

Prize Background

Since 1994, the Banff Mountain Book Festival has brought together writers, publishers, editors, photographers and readers. The festival explores the world of mountain literature through speakers, readings, seminars, book signings and launches, a book fair and the presentation of internationally recognized awards for mountain literature. In addition to the Grand Prize Winners selected from all of the books, awards are also presented to the best books in each of the categories of:

bulletAdventure Travel
bulletCanadian Rockies
bulletMountain Exposition
bullet Mountain History
bulletMountain Image
bulletMountain Literature


The Adventure Travel Award Winners

The Adventure Travel category includes fiction and non-fiction books with a theme of travel to and exploration of remote and/or rugged landscapes and their cultures. There are two lists of books on this page. The first list includes all of the winners in the Adventure Travel category since the award was first made in 1995. The second list includes all of the finalists. Please note that a number of these books are still unavailable in the US (at least through and that these are shown in red.

  Year   Adventure Travel Winning Titles and Author
2006 Eating Stone
Ellen Meloy

Comments from the jury include:
bullet “I can’t think of more lyrical, more quirky, or more meditative writing about wilderness and loss than Eating Stone,” says jury member David Stevenson, a writing professor at Western Illinois University and review editor of the American Alpine Journal.


Grand Prize Winner
Being Caribou: Five Months On Foot With An Arctic Herd
Karsten Heuer

Comments from the jury include:
bullet“We are so used to amazing wildlife images in TV documentaries. Karsten Heuer offers the verbal equivalent of those magical visual moments and he has something important to say as well. “
bullet“The only thing that matches the imagination and execution of this trip is the quality of the totally engaging writing.”
bulletThe journey itself makes for a great tale, but Karsten Heuer achieves something greater, something unusual in personal narrative. The story is not about him, or Leanne. He recognizes this, and manages to tell it, in first person, without blocking our view of his primary subject, the caribou.

Adventure Travel
Learning to Breathe
Andy Cave

The jury departed from the typical type of book that has won the ’Adventure Travel’ award in the past. Namely, Andy Cave’s Learning to Breathe has a good deal of climbing writing in it, and was actually a finalist in the Mountain Literature category. But the jury felt that the journey from mine to peak is what Cave so skillfully revealed in this, his first book.  Comments include:

bullet“It was a mental, cultural, socio-economic, and spiritual journey as much as a physical one. And those are the characteristics that mark the best adventure travel writing of any sort.”
bullet“Andy Cave interweaves his two worlds with considerable flair and his portrayal of a chunk of English social histoy is as deftly done as his delight in the adrenalin rush of climbing a rock face. An exciting debut book.”

2004 Grand Prize Winner:
Southern Exposure
by Chris Duff

Author and adventurer Chris Duff brings readers into the cockpit of his 18-foot sea kayak to travel the South Pacific and Tasman Sea, and along the wild western coast of New Zealand. Described by competition jury members as “introspective, meditational, and at times poetic,” Duff’s descriptions of his solo kayak trip in the oceans around New Zealand have both a gripping sense of the uncertainty of nature, and a simple joy in self-reliance and accomplishment. Jury members also appreciated the way that Duff “regularly leavens his acute observations of the natural world with an equally sharp eye for human quirkiness and character among the folk he chances upon.” Southern Exposure also won a 2003 National Outdoor Book Award in the History and Biography category.

The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes
by Wade Davis

This book is a large-scale history of a scientist who disappeared into the Amazon Basin in the 1940s, to reappear 12 years later after identifying 2,000 new medicinal plants.

2003 The Anthropology of Turquoise
Ellen Meloy

Artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy looks at the connections between human perception, geography, and the natural world through various landscapes, from the Sierra Nevada to the Yucatan Peninsula. "This is a special little book that comes at a very interesting time in adventure," jury member Ramsay says. "With the world shrinking, Meloy discovers a myriad of journeys literally in her own backyard."

2002 The Horizontal Everest: Extreme Journeys on Ellesmere Island
Jerry Kobalenko

In the book, Kobalenko explores the past and present of this forbidding but beautiful landscape. Julie-Ann Clyma, a 2002 jury member, comments: "Kobalenko’s The Horizontal Everest stood out. He writes with passion, clarity and — praise be — some humour. I found myself smiling a lot at his observations."
 Read Review

Special Mentions were earned by North by Roger Hubank and Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures by Wade Davis.

2001 Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Inuit Passage And Northwest Culture
Jonathan Waterman

According to Maria Coffey, a 2001 jury member, "Waterman gives an refreshingly honest account of Inuit life, warts and all, which I found both fascinating and highly educational."

A Special Mention for Mountain Culture was earned by A Painter's Year in the Forest of Bhutan by A.K. Hellum

2000 Patagonia: Notes From The Field
Nora Gallagher

"This book reflects a wide range of travel experiences from the exhilaration and joy of teamwork to the quiet and spiritual contemplation of nature," comments Susan Golomb, a 2000 jury member.
1999 Beyond The Sky And Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan
Jamie Zeppa

When she was only 23, a young woman from Sault St. Marie went to Bhutan to teach - only to realize that the unfamiliar people and living conditions made her feel alienated and miserable. Out of the hearts and minds of eight-year-olds came the hope and inspiration that would save Jamie Zeppa's life. Over time, she fell in love with a Bhutanese man and had a child by him. Beyond the Sky and Earth is an incredible autobiography of one woman's struggle to survive physically, mentally and spiritually in a foreign land. "An honest, well composed, unexpected book, written without pretense or any sense of fulfilling an obligation. This should be required pre-reading for all trekkers planning a "get there" holiday in the Himalaya," says jury member John Porter.
1998 The Clouded Leopard: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire
Wade Davis

This book deals with the theme of diminishing natural and cultural diversity from a worldwide perspective. "Of all the books entered in the festival, it pronounced most articulately on the sense of loss that is currently invading our notions of adventure," says jury member Bob Sandford. He adds, "It is perhaps telling that almost all the books submitted in the Adventure Travel category this year catalogued loss; loss of cultural tradition, loss of biological diversity, loss of wildness and, finally, loss of landscape and the opportunity to fulfill oneself in it. "
1997 I May Be Some Time: Ice And The English Imagination
Francis Spufford
1996 Voyage Of A Summer Sun: Canoeing The Columbia River
Robin Cody
1995 Kayaking the Vermilion Sea: Eight Hundred Miles Down The Baja
Jon Waterman



The following table includes a list of the finalists for the Banff Awards in the Adventure Travel category since the award was first established.

  Year   Adventure Travel Finalists
bulletThe Dolphin's Tooth by Bruce Kirkby
bulletThe Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears by Doug and Andrea Peacock
bulletMiracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado
bulletPoets and Pahlevans by Marcello Di Cintio
bulletSandstone Spine: Seeking the Anasazi on the First Traverse of the Comb Ridge by David Roberts
bulletShadow of the Bear by Brian Payton
bulletTo the Ends of the Earth by Gordon Wiltsie
bulletAcross the Savage Sea: The First Woman to Row Across the North Atlantic by Maud Fontenoy
bulletAngry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel by Jeffrey Tayler
bulletBeing Caribou: Five Months On Foot With An Arctic Herd by Karsten Heuer
bulletChasing Clayquot by David Pitt-Brooke
bulletThe Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
bulletThe Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place by Ian Baker
bulletIn the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific by Jon Turk
bulletMystery of the Nile by Pasquale Scaturro and Richard Bangs
bulletThree Among the Wolves by Helen Thayer
bulletWalking to Vermont by Christopher Wren
bulletWhere Mountains Are Nameless by Jonathan Waterman
bulletBerserk: My Voyage to Antarctica in a Twenty-Seven Foot Sailboat by David Mercy
bulletBetween a Rock and Hard Place by Aron Ralston
bulletThe Big Open: On Foot Across Tibet's Chang Tang by Rick Ridgeway
bulletCaptain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes
bulletThe Fellowship of Ghosts: A Journey Through the Mountains of Norway by Paul Watkins
bulletFour Against the Arctic: Shipwrecked for Six Years at the Top of the World by David Roberts
bulletThe Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes by Wade Davis
bulletLost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone National Park by Tim Cahill  Read Review
bulletThe Man Who Mapped the Arctic by Peter Steele
bulletMy Path Leads to Tibet: The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet by Sabriye Tenberken
bulletSouthern Exposure by Chris Duff
bulletSwimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
bullet The Anthropology of Turquoise; Ellen Meloy Available at Amazon UK
bullet Dark Star Safari; Paul Theroux Available at Amazon UK
bullet End of the Earth: Voyages to Antarctica; Peter Matthiessen Available at Amazon UK
bullet Glory in a Camel's Eye; Jeffrey Tayler Available at Amazon UK
bullet Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa; Marcello Di Cintio Available at Amazon UK
bullet Hunting From Home: A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountain; Christopher Camuto Available at Amazon UK
bullet Lost in Mongolia; Colin Angus Available at Amazon UK
bullet Sahara: A Natural History; Marq De Villiers and Sheila Hirtle Available at Amazon UK
bullet The Siege of Shangri-La; Michael McRae Available at Amazon UK
bulletBeyond the Last Village: A Journey of Discovery in Asia's Forbidden Wilderness; Alan Rabinowitz
bulletDefying Gravity Defying Fear; Heather Swan
bulletDragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions; Charles Gallenkamp
bulletFatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot; Ken McGoogan
bulletFlying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey; by Barbara Cushman Rowell (Photographer), Galen A. Rowell (Photographer)
bulletThe Hard Way: Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure; Mark Jenkins
bulletHigh and Wild: Essays and Photographs on Wilderness Adventure; Galen Rowell
bulletHold the Enlightenment: More Travel, Less Bliss; Tim Cahill
bulletThe Horizontal Everest: Extreme Journeys on Ellesmere Island; Jerry Kobalenko  Read Review
bulletLight at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures; Wade Davis
bulletNorth; Roger Hubank
bulletTom Crean: Unsung Hero of the Scott and Shackleton Antarctic Expeditions; Michael Smith
bulletVisions of the Wild: A Voyage by Kayak Around Vancouver Island; Maria Coffey, Dag Goering
bulletArctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Inuit Passage And Northwest Culture; Jonathan Waterman
bulletBirthplace of the Winds: Storming Alaska's Islands of Fire and Ice; Jon Bowermaster
bulletBlue Nile: Ethopia's River of Magic and Mystery; Virginia Morell
bulletFrank Kingdon Ward's Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges: Retracing the Epic Journey of 1924-25 in South-East Tibet; Kenneth Cox
bullet The Middle-Aged Mountaineer by Jim Curran
bulletA Painter's Year in the Forest of Bhutan; A.K. Hellum
bulletPoints Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration; edited by David Roberts
bulletShackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tale of an Antarctic Tragedy; Lennard Bickel
bulletSikkim: A Traveller's Guide; Sujoy Das and Arundhati Ray
bulletThis Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland; Gretel Ehrlich
bullet Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman's Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China & Vietnam; Erika Warmbrunn
bulletAlong The Inca Road: A Woman's Journey Into An Ancient Culture; Karin Muller
bulletAlpine Circus; Michael Finkel
bulletNational Geographic Expeditions Atlas; Tom Melham
bulletPatagonia: Notes From The Field; Nora Gallagher
bulletSand Dance: By Camel Across Arabia's Great Southern Desert; Bruce Kirkby
bulletAlone Across Antarctica; Borge Ousland
bulletAntarctic Oasis; Under The Spell Of South Georgia; Tim and Pauline Carr
bulletBeyond The Sky And Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan; Jamie Zeppa
bulletFire Into Ice; Charles Fipke And The Great Diamond Hunt; Vernon Frolick
bulletNorth To The Night; A Year In The Arctic Ice; Alvah Simon
bullet The Clouded Leopard: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire; Wade Davis
bulletCook and Peary: The Polar Controversy, Resolved; Robert Bryce
bulletCrossing Paths: Uncommon Encounters With Animals In The Wild; Craig Childs
bulletI May Be Some Time: Ice And The English Imagination; Francis Spufford
bulletPass The Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Remembered; Tim Cahill
bulletTo Timbuktu; A Journey Down The Niger; Mark Jenkins
bulletWild Rivers, Wild Lands; Ken Madson
bulletDemon River Apurimac: First Navigation Of Upper Amazon Canyons; J. Calvin Giddings
bulletVoyage Of A Summer Sun: Canoeing The Columbia River; Robin Cody
bulletErrant Journeys; Adventure Travel In A Modern Age; David Zurick
bulletKayaking the Vermilion Sea: Eight Hundred Miles Down The Baja; Jon Waterman
bulletPaddle To The Arctic: The Incredible Kayak Quest Across The Roof Of The World; Don Starkell
bulletPeaks: Seeking High Ground Across The Continents; Richard Bangs
bulletPower Places Of Kathmandu: Hindu And Buddhist Holy Sites In The Sacred Valley Of Nepal; Keevin Bubruski and Keith Dowman


If you like this list and want to see other award winning books on mountaineering and the outdoors, check out the winners of these three awards:
bullet American Alpine Literary Award
bullet Boardman-Tasker Memorial Award for Mountain Literature
bullet National Outdoor Book Awards


Return to TheRagens Books homepage. For other books on our lists of recommended books, follow the links below.
bulletOur Current Book List. The list of books on our current reading list.
bulletMountain Climbing and Outdoor Adventures with the cover graphics.
bullet Books on Wine Appreciation and Winemaking.
bulletChildren's Books that our boys or their cousins are reading. Click here for the Seattle Children's Theatre recommended booklist.
bulletHistory Books that relate to our family history or that we have enjoyed.
bulletOther Books that we are waiting to categorize.


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