"The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature commemorates the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker, who disappeared on the North East Ridge of Everest in 1982, and is given to the author, or co-authors of an original work which has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature. "
This photograph, a detail from page 112, 0f Himalayan Portfolios, shows the ridge with the Everest summit to the right. The Pinnacles, where the climbers died, are the center point to the right of a jagged ridge section.
The award was announced on November 20 at the Kendal 2009 Mountain Book Festival. The Kendal Festival closely parallels the Banff Festival discussed last month. Kendal is a small market town that is a south-eastern gateway to the English Lake District and the last town before the M6 road to Scotland crosses Shap Fell.
Entering Himalayan Porfolios for a literary prize was something of a long shot. We would have to convice the judges that the book was an integral work of text and pictures and not pictures with some text attached. Mirrors, Messages and Manifestations by Minor White was conceived as such a unit with "sequences" matched to original text. The works of William Blake that combined poetry and engravings served as a model. The wonderful books by Paul Strand, Time in New England for example, would not qualify because he relied on others to provide a text. Hybrid works are a tricky catagory: Wagner's Ring cycle is a monster example in which a poetic text, music and staging were promoted as one. A phone call from my brother in England told me that my book had been noted as giving particular enjoyment in the award ceremony at Kendal.
The well structured and thoughtful addess by Phil Bartlett, the chair of the judges, has been posted on the web. A paragraph of 145 words was devoted to explaining why Himalayan Portfolios, though much enjoyed, did not qualify to be on the short list. The winner, Beyond the Mountain, an autobiography by Steve House, received 318 words. (He was also a winner at the Banff Festival, see my November 11 blog.) My book was judged to be "a sumptuous collection of black and white photography and serious supporting essays." (For some reason he did not metion the extended title: Journeys of the Imagination.) We did not convince, or manage to slip in without being caught, White House fashion, but we came close enough to be seriously considered. For the full text of the judge's remarks see Book Reviews on my web page or this link.
Kangchenjunga from Pangpema (HP page 126.) First ascent without oxygen by Boardman, Tasker and Doug Scott, 1978 (see also HP page 165).