Bernadette McDonald first won the $2,000 Grand Prize at the 2011 Banff Mountain Book Festival for Freedom Climbers (RMB $32.95), then she became the first Canadian to receive the Boardman Tasker Prize, also in 2011 [see below]. She next received the American Alpine Club Book Award in February of 2012 [see below], becoming the first author to win all three prizes. Then she won the 2011/2012 Himalayan Club's Kekoo Naoroji Book Award. In 2014, the French language edition of Freedom Climbers was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2014 Salon du Livre de Montagne de Passy, the highest honour for a work of mountain literature in France.

[caption id="attachment_20012" align="alignleft" width="300"] Voytek Kurtyka[/caption]

Her winning ways continued in 2017 when Bernadette McDonald completed the "Triple Crown"; of mountain literature with three major literary awards received over a period of three weeks for Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka, her biography of the Polish climber known for his "bold and lightning-fast" ascents of unclimbed walls in the Himalaya. Born in 1947, described as fiercely private, Kurtyka is renowned for his alpine-style ascent of the West Face of Gasherbrum IV, dubbed by some as the "climb of the century." After repeated requests to accept the Piolet d' Or lifetime achievement award (the Academy Award of the climbing world), Kurtyka finally accepted the honour in the spring of 2016. A fiercely private individual.

McDonald first learned she was to receive the $2,000 Mountain Literature (Non-Fiction) John Whyte Award sponsored by The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. For the 2017 National Outdoor Book Awards, she received top honours in History Biography category. Then for the second time she won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literture (UK) established in 1983 to commemorate the lives of climbers Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker.

In 2012, Rocky Mountain Books released Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story to introduce one of the most influential voices in modern mountaineering, despite the fact she has never climbed a mountain. Publicity materials state: "In 1946, Elizabeth Hawley left both her job at Fortune Magazine and to travel the world. And thus began a lifelong attraction to the Himalayas. In the years that followed, she began reporting on the political and cultural events taking place in Nepal and introduced the world to the strange community of mountaineers, pilgrims and politicians who regularly descended on Kathmandu, whether in search of adventure, enlightenment or prestige. While Hawley has never climbed a mountain or visited Everest base camp, she has become the most important record keeper and inspirational authority figure regarding the expeditions, stories, scandals and disasters in the Himalaya. With production under way on a film examining her life and legacy, Hawley will continue to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of all visitors looking to experience the legend of the world's most celebrated mountain landscape."

Bernadette McDonald is the founding vice-president of Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre and author of seven books on international mountaineering. McDonald is the winner of numerous awards, including Italy's ITAS Prize for mountain writing and is a two-time winner of India's Kekoo Naoroji Award for Mountain Literature. She has also received the Alberta Order of Excellence, the Summit of Excellence Award from the Banff Centre, the King Albert Award for international leadership in the field of mountain culture and environment, and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. Hailing from Vernon, Bernadette has divided her time between Banff, Alberta and Naramata, BC.


Freedom Riders (RMB 2011) 978-1-926855-608
Freedom Climbers (RMB, 2012) $24.95 978-1-927330-12-8
Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story (RMB, 2012) $22.95 978-1-927330-15-9
Okanagan Slow Road (Touchwood 2014) - illustrated by Karolina Born-Tschumperlin $29.95 9781771510363
Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka (Rocky Mountain 2017) 9781771602129, hardcover, $32

[BCBW 2017]