The Ones That Got Away

Thursday, 8 March 2012

When I blogged – yikes! two months ago! – about a letter I'd received from publisher Ken Wilson, he included a piece I'd written for Climber magazine to coincide with an earlier edition of the Boardman Tasker Omnibus, published in 1998. Ken had highlighted in orange sections of the article that were complimentary to his current project, no doubt to strong-arm me into saying something nice with the current new edition, not yet released. Which worked.

But re-reading old articles can be a discomforting experience. You're often proved to have been wrong in the intervening years, and what you thought was an authoritative tone turns out to have been ludicrous pomposity. Never mind.

Most of the article was a more or less positive look at the future of climbing publishing and the Boardman Tasker Prize, but at the end of it I included a list of the ten best books which, in my  humble opinion, had unfairly missed out, not only from winning but from making the shortlist for what was then, and perhaps still is, the pre-eminent mountain literature award in the world.

Included on the list were a few books I'd still thoroughly recommend, like Kathleen Jamie's The Golden Peak, one of the best travel books I've read, now released under the weaker title Among Muslims. I would also keep Ed Drummond's A Dream of White Horses, another book still available from Wilson's imprint Bâton Wicks.

But in the last fourteen years lots more books that missed out have jostled into position, so here's my current list of the ten best of the rest, and the year they were entered for the Boardman Tasker. One or two of these were better – in my judgement – than the book that won, let alone the others on the shortlist, but I won't be specific. The point is not to run down other authors, just to point out that book prizes can sometimes obfuscate true worth.

So, the ten books that didn't even get shortlisted but you ought to read are:

A Dream of White Horses by Ed Drummond (1987)

The Golden Peak/Among Muslims by Kathleen Jamie (1992)

Electric Brae by Andrw Greig (1993)

Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer (1998)

Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer (1998)

Kiss or Kill by Mark Twight (2001)

True Summit by David Roberts (2001)

Fearless on Everest by Julie Summers (2001)

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English (2009)

Hanging by a Thread by Emmanuel Cauchy (2009)

Posted by Ed Douglas at 3.07 PM