Shortlist of Books Announced for Boardman Tasker Award

Mountain climbing — and literature about it — has come a long way since 1983.

That’s when the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature first began, as a way to honour the memory of climbers and authors Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker.

The trust has shined a spotlight on many stellar climbing books over the years, and the six finalists for 2022 announced Sept. 8 are no exception.

New contenders for the award include a book of poetry about mountains and motherhood, an autobiography about climbing after a life-changing injury, and a fun romp through the history of UK climbers in the 1970s and 1980s.

The award received 40 entries this year from a range of diverse authors. This latest batch of mountain literature comes from Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, and the U.S.

As in past years, organizers will name the final winner during the Kendal Mountain Festival. The Boardman Tasker Shortlisted Authors and Awards event takes place on November 18 from 7-9 p.m. (UK time).

Interested in going in person and meeting the trust’s latest group of authors? You can buy your tickets here.

The judges for 2022 are Marni Jackson (Chair), Matt Fry, and Natalie Berry.

Jackson wrote the following descriptions for the six finalists.

Climbing the Walls: Learning to Cope When Your World Crumbles by Kieran Cunningham

A highly engaging, often humorous account of a dedicated climber who is forced to spend the pandemic in lockdown, in Italy, mostly NOT climbing — and the consequences for his mental health. A reminder of why mountains matter.

Time On Rock: A Climber’s Route Into The Mountains by Anna Fleming

A gorgeously written, elegant, and sensual account of the intimate relationship between climber and rock, whether it’s the gritstone of the Peak District or the granite of the Cairngorms.  A peripatetic meditation on how “we shape the rock and the rock shapes us”.

High Risk: Climbing to Extinction by Brian Hall

Brian Hall grew up with the radical climbers who would come to define a wild and glorious chapter of Himalayan mountaineering in the late nineteen seventies and eighties. He partied with them, climbed with them, and grieved many of the 11 unforgettable climbers portrayed in his book. “High Risk” takes the reader right to the heart and soul of the golden age of UK climbing.

Through Dangerous Doors: A Life at Risk by Robert Charles Lee

Robert Charles Lee is a professional risk scientist who likes to test his own limits, in life, in love, and in the mountains, climbing rock and ice.  He doesn’t play safe with his writing either, offering readers his unfiltered, sometimes jaw-dropping account of what it means to take risks, and survive.

A Line Above The Sky: A Story of Mountains and Motherhood by Helen Mort

One of Britain’s best young poets draws a line between the risks and terrors of motherhood and an untethered life in the mountains. Shadowing the life of Alison Hargreaves, the pioneering UK climber who did not give up alpinism when she became a mother, Helen Mort brilliantly explores the visceral education that is part of climbing mountains and giving birth.

The Mountain Path: A Climber’s Journey Through Life and Death by Paul Pritchard

The author of “Deep Play” has gone even deeper in this investigation into the spiritual rewards of a life in the mountains. After Pritchard was almost killed by a falling rock while climbing a sea stack in Tasmania, he had to push through new physical limitations to philosophical insights that changed his life. A beautifully written, devastatingly honest account of choosing to live.