The Canadian Rockies have always spoken to the adventurous spirit, drawing wilderness seekers and artists from all over the world. Since 2005, The Banff Centre’s Mountain and Wilderness Writing Program has brought together writers to explore in that same spirit. This anthology represents some of the best stories to emerge from the Program-a range of risk-taking that includes a mad solo ascent of The Troll Wall in Norway, a hair-raising Himalayan climb with the great Ueli Steck, a melancholy journey through Ireland’s County Donegal, and a sailor’s soul-expanding voyage down the coast of the Baja.
Compiled by Faculty Editors Marni Jackson and Tony Whittome, and introduced by award winning writer (and veteran tree planter) Charlotte Gill, this pioneering anthology of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry is about discovering the visceral excitement of the wild, and its impact on the human creative spirit. Collected within these pages is the best of mountain and wilderness writing from all over the globe.
Contributors: Christian Beamish, Barry Blanchard, Ian Brown, Fitz Cahall, Maria Coffey, Niall Fink, Charlotte Gill, Don Gillmor, Niall Grimes, Karsten Heuer, Katie Ives, Bruce Kirkby, Andy Kirkpatrick, Bernadette McDonald, Helen Mort, Jan Redford, Wayne Sawchuk, Erin Soros, Steve Swenson, Masa Takei, Jon Turk, and Freddie Wilkinson.
“This remarkable collection of deeply felt and vividly rendered encounters with the wild world is a testament to the skill and passion being brought to bear in The Banff Centre’s Mountain and Wilderness Writing program. Every story and poem is an exhortation to get out there.”
– John Vaillant, author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger
“Like a truly great outing, this anthology offers up all kinds of unexpected delights, from an impressively diverse lineup of talented contributors. Just be prepared: Once you start reading, you’ll never know where you are heading next.”
– James Little, author of Way Out There: The Best of Explore
“The intensity and passion of Rock, Paper, Fire brought me back to my earliest encounters with the mountains-thrilling, terrifying, humbling, transformative. In these pages, I fell in love again.”
– Angie Abdou, author of The Canterbury Trail
“When we go climbing, paddling, on walkabout, we crave an unmitigated, free-range connection with the outdoors. We want to be reminded of what it feels like to be human, as we’ve been human for almost two million years. This urge is so compelling, apparently, that many of us will risk frostbite, drowning, and altitude sickness-often at great personal expense-with no promise of glory or reward beyond the trip itself.

Why do we do it?

First, there is the mountain, the glacier, the desert, the long trek across the steppe. A landscape passes beneath our feet. In the thick of it, we have no choice but to engage, to breathe the air, feel its jagged surfaces in our hands, to hear it crackle underneath our feet. We are present and immersed. Perhaps we explore merely to break records, to be the first to reach the summit. Or, we want to dip into some hidden well in ourselves that is never accessed indoors. Maybe, when some of us return home, we’ll put our fingers to the keyboard. ”
– From the introduction by Charlotte Gill, author of Eating Dirt