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The Boardman/Tasker Shortlist – Climbing Books You Should Read

The list of six finalists for The Boardman Tasker Award is a great place to start when looking for a new book to pick up

With fall approaching, it’s a good time to pick up a few new climbing books to immerse yourself in. There are a lot of new books that hit the shelves this year, so it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to pick.

Luckily, the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature continues to attract a substantial level of entries which are made public. This year there were 40 entries, from Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru and the USA. All of the entries are worth checking out, especially the six that were selected as finalists.

Boardman Tasker finalists
The 40 finalists

The judges for 2022 are Marni Jackson (Chair), Matt Fry and Natalie Berry. The winner will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival on Nov. 18. The six finalists were:

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.