CANMORE – A pair of Canmore authors has been bound as category finalists of the Banff Mountain Book Competition.
The Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival announced on Wednesday (Sept. 15) the category finalists of the annual book competition, which supports a wide variety of categories, including mountain literature (non-fiction), mountain fiction and poetry, mountain environment and natural history, adventure travel, mountain image, guidebooks, mountaineering articles, and climbing literature.
The prescreening committee read 153 book submissions from authors in 11 countries, which were narrowed down to a long list of 25 category finalists.
Naturalist and author Kevin Van Tighem’s latest book Wild Roses Are Worth It: Reimagining the Alberta Advantage was nominated for the Mountain Environment and Natural History award, while Ryan Correy’s book Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies was nominated posthumously in the guidebook category.
“It feels a bit surprising and gratifying,” said Van Tighem. “I think a lot of writers have a degree of imposter syndrome so you’re always amazed when people actually read the stuff you write. The Banff Mountain Book Competition is quite the impressive outfit to have your book be recognized.”
The book is a collection of works previously published in Alberta Views, a magazine that explores Alberta’s true identity in a time when social, economic and environmental changes have created a crux in the province.
The idea to combine past columns into a book started while working on another project. He said after combing through the past works to double check something he had previously written, he realized there was a powerful message and theme when combined.
“I thought to myself ‘Geez, when you put these old essays together, they say more together than they do individually, and they create a conversation that I think Alberta needs right now,'” Van Tighem said.
Van Tighem said when he published the book his goal was to contribute to the conversation about the problems facing Alberta.
“We live in one of the finest places in the world," he said. "We’ve got so much that makes us who we are outside of the dominant story of oil. We’ve let other people tell us who we are for far too long and they’ve shrunken the story ‘we’re all about oil’ and they have cooled that story with a lot of anger.
The former superintendent of Banff National Park sighted the province’s abundant solar, wind and geothermal resources, natural beauty, biological diversity and people as more important narratives that need to be shared.
Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies is a guidebook first started in 2016 by Ryan Correy, one of Canada’s most accomplished adventure cyclists. After finishing the first draft of the book, Correy lost his battle against cancer in April 2018.
Correy’s widow Sarah Hornby helped to finish the book.
“It’s incredibly meaningful. It’s a testament to the fact that Ryan’s legacy lives on not only in myself and Ryan’s family but in others too and that his work is appreciated and recognized,” said Hornby.
She said Correy was a tireless promoter of cycling and outdoor adventures, and this book was the perfect way to share his passion to help grow the community of bikepacking. The guidebook features 10 routes in Waterton, Kananaskis, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper that were meticulously crafted by Correy.
The routes take riders on beginner, intermediate and expert journeys. The book is complete with multi-day routes with directional cues, detailed maps, a bikepacking 101 section and personal stories.
In 2019, Hornby cycled the 10 routes featured in the book, which was documented in the short film Choosing to Live. Last year that film, which was documented by Canmore-based filmmaker/photographer Jeff Bartlett, was selected for the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
“The film told the story of Ryan and his guidebook project and it showcased the routes that he created. Now, having the book featured, we are able to share those routes and hand over the keys to others to get out and explore them,” said Hornby. “Having both the film and the guidebook featured at Banff feels full-circle in this way.”