The Bond by Simon McCartney triumphs with mountain literature award hat trick

May 29, 2019 2 min read

Simon McCartney and Mirella Tenderini at the ITAS awards. © Simon McCartney collection.

Simon McCartney’s mountaineering epic The Bond has become the first book to win the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, the Mountain and Wilderness Literature award in the Banff Mountain Book Competition and the ITAS ‘Opere Prima’ Award.

The 5,000-euro ITAS Award – Italy’s most prestigious literary award for mountaineering books – was announced at the Trento Film Festival on 4 May. Mirella Tenderini, a spokesperson for the award, said: ‘The Bond is a very special book telling the story of an accident that occurred during the descent from a most dangerous wall in the Alaskan Range when Simon was stricken by an accident and Jack did nothing to save himself but did everything he could to rescue his companion, and he saved him. It is the story of a strong bond of loyalty and friendship that Simon rediscovered after a long time of silence, after Jack had passed away. He wrote this book in Jack’s honour.’

The Bond won the Boardman Tasker and Banff awards in 2016. Both awards annually present an internationally recognised prize to authors or co-authors of an outstanding contribution to mountain literature, with the Banff competition awarding a prize fund of C$16,000 and the Kendal Mountain Festival’s Boardman Tasker Award offering a £3,000 prize to commemorate the lives of outstanding British mountaineers Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker. 

Simon McCartney commented: ‘When I was writing what became The BondI had no expectation of what would follow. Winning in Banff was hard to believe honestly. I was certainly emotional but that does not compare to the terrifying experience of the Kendal Oscars. The Trento festival was different again. I did not know that the Italian version, Il Legame, had been entered for the Premio ITAS so consequently it was a total and wonderful surprise when I received an email from Mirella Tenderini. 

‘I have come to terms with all of this only partially. The book has brought only good things (not just for me) and my overriding conclusions are that I am so glad that I made the effort and I’m grateful for all those who helped.’

The Bond was published by Vertebrate Publishing in 2016. Vertebrate titles have claimed these awards on several prior occasions: Tides by Nick Bullock won the Banff Mountain Literature Non-Fiction award in the Banff Mountain Book Competition in 2018, Art of Freedom by Bernadette McDonald won in the same category in 2017 and scooped the Boardman Tasker Award in the same year; and Troll Wall by Tony Howard won the ITAS Award in 2013.