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Freedom Climbers earns McDonald prestigious award

Dreams, says author Bernadette McDonald, sometimes come true.

Dreams, says author Bernadette McDonald, sometimes come true.

And right on the heels of her being awarded the grand prize at last month’s Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival for her eighth and newest publication, Freedom Climbers, McDonald said she was absolutely stunned and thrilled to learn she’d been chosen as the recipient of this year’s Boardman Tasker Prize.

The winner of the prestigious Boardman Tasker was announced on Nov. 18 at the Kendall Mountain Festival.

“I have to admit that I always dreamed about one day winning the Boardman Tasker award: what mountain author wouldn’t? " McDonald said. “But the Banff grand prize? No, I never even aspired to that. So to win them both within 10 days for a book that I’ve wanted to write since 1993 is beyond my imagination. "

Part of the credit, said the long-time Banff resident and former director of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, must go to publisher Rocky Mountain Books for believing in a book that celebrates the lives of an impressive number of Polish climbers who emerged from post Second World War oppression to dominate Himalayan climbing as the most determined and toughest cadre of climbers ever known.

“It says a lot about Rocky Mountain Books, who took on a project that many other publishers thought too much of a 'niche within a niche’, " McDonald said. “And it certainly takes the sting out of shoulder surgery, which took place halfway between the two prizes. "

For RMB publisher Don Gorman, news of the award was most welcome. McDonald is not only the first Canadian author to win the prestigious international Boardman Tasker (Ł3,000), but the first author to win both the Banff grand prize ($2,000) and the Boardman Tasker in the same year. This also marks the first time both prizes have been awarded to a book published by a Canadian company.

“Everyone at RMB is thrilled with Bernadette’s Freedom Climbers winning both the Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition Grand Prize and the Boardman Tasker Prize, " Gorman said. “She truly deserves the recognition.

“This book is meant for both mountaineers and anyone interested in humanity’s struggle under oppressive regimes – for anyone interested in a strong narrative history, actually. In that regard, Freedom Climbers transcends mountain literature in some ways and Bernadette has proven that writers from the mountain west deserve a place at the international literary table. "

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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