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David Smart Receives Banff Climbing Literature Award 2020

For his 2020 biography: Emilio Comici, Angel of the Dolomites

The 2020 award for climbing literature at the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival goes to Emilio Comici, Angel of the Dolomites.

Written by David Smart and published by Rocky Mountain Books, Emilio Comici, Angel of the Dolomites is the first English-language biography of one of the most renowned Italian climbers, Emilio Comici, who bagged over 200 first ascents in the Eastern Alps prior to his death at 39 years of age in 1940.

Comici was one of the first to climb grade-six rock walls, and introduced ladders for aid climbing, stop-and-belay anchors and hanging bivouacs.

“We need books like Emilio Comici to keep us in check with our history, and in this case, the history of climbing,” said Helen Rolfe of the 2020 book competition jury.

“This book provides an articulate understanding of how a barely known Italian climber from the 1930s paved the way for modern-day pursuits on big rock walls. Page after page, the spotlight is drawn to the author’s meticulous research and creative composition.”

Smart is the editorial director of Gripped Publishing, the recipient of the 2019 Summit of Excellence Award, has written a number of books, including A Youth Wasted Climbing, Paul Preuss: Life and Death at the Birth of Free-Climbing and has been short-listed for awards by both the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival and The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature.

“David Smart has created a nuanced and elegant biography of Emilio Comici, a climber who was immersed in the simmering ideological tension of eastern Italy between the two Great Wars, and who cared deeply about the aesthetics of climbing,” said Bernadette McDonald, author of Art of Freedom, Alpine Warriors, Freedom Climbers and Keeper of the Mountains.

For the complete list of award recipients from this year’s book festival visit here. The film festival will be virtual this year, so be sure to buy your tickets here to stream the dozens of great films starting next week.