The annual Banff Mountain Book Competition recently announced the nominees long-listed for recognition in several categories–out of the four articles under consideration for Best Mountaineering Article, two are from Alpinist: Alison Criscitiello’s story from Alpinist 59, titled “Contraindications,” and James Edward Mills’ story from Alpinist 60, “The Force of the Soul: Hugues Beauzile.”
The author of the winning article will receive a $2,000 reward.
In “Contraindications,” Criscitiello writes of several trips and memories leading up to the final days she spent with her close friend Anna Smith, who died at age 31 during an expedition in the Indian Himalaya. Criscitiello wrote of Smith:
She found it endlessly entertaining that two petite climbers couldn’t fit into the allegedly two-person tent she brought. “When we get off that summit and back down here, two girls one tent!” I hollered. The echo of her thunderous laugh seemed to magnify in the cirque above and reverberate back to me. I saw the flash of her mischievous grin as she settled into the tent. I blew her a fist-bump, and crunched over to my bivy spot. My down booties gripped onto the hoar frost that had begun to form. As I turned out my headlamp, the illuminated circumference of my world vanished into vacuity. It was probably around 10 p.m. when I fell asleep listening to her almost comforting little snores. Farther away, the low locomotive rumble of an avalanche rose and fell. The last thing that passed between us wasn’t words, but wonder and laughter.
Mills’ story details the life of French alpinist Hugues Beauzile, a climbing prodigy who was the son of a Haitian immigrant. Within the span of a few years, Beauzile established more than 130 sport routes and made two major solo ascents in the Alps before he died on the South Face of Aconcagua in 1995 at age 28. Mills wrote:
To many journalists and established French mountaineers, Hugues was a mysterious figure who had emerged, quietly and unexpected, against the background of vast alpine faces. Caught on camera by accident as media helicopters flew after other, more famous climbing stars, he’d appeared in a remarkable flash of talent and skill only to vanish in what seemed like an instant. Nonetheless, traces of his presence remain embedded in the memories and imaginations of those who knew him best, and his legacy has continued to inspire alpinists of a new generation who might never know his name.
To see the rest of the nominees in all categories, visit the Banff Mountain Book Competition webpage here.
While only a small fraction of stories from the print editions are ever uploaded to our website, the three stories mentioned here can be found on Alpinist.com (see hyperlinks above). Click here to visit the Alpinist subscription page.