A month earlier than usual, the winners of the premiere mountaineering prize, the Piolets d'Or, have been announced in France: Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson for their ascent of the world's second-highest unclimbed peak, Saser Kangri II (7,518m), in India; and Slovenians Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar for their ascent of K7 West (6,615m) in Pakistan. The awards are back on solid footing after a rough patch in 2005-07 when many nominees withdrew from competition and winner Marko Prezelj denounced and rejected the award on stage at the ceremony.
Armchair alpinists can enjoy a vast library of mountaineering titles and at least three annual book prizes: The Boardman Trakser, the Banff, and the National Outdoor Book Awards. The current double winner of those first two prizes is Bernadette McDonald's Freedom Climbers [Kindle] about a tough group of mountain men from communist Poland allowed out to tackle the Himalayas.
Each fall, the NOBA honor books in eleven categories. One current champ is Dominic Gill's Take a Seat [Kindle] about his two-year bicycle ride from the north coast of Alaska to South America. Ho-hum, you say. He says, Tandem, because he rode alone on a two-seater and asked strangers to join him.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, Colin Fletcher, Dalmon Galgut -- I love a good book about a long walk, so I'm happy for the success of Cheryl Strayed's new memoir of her 1,100-mile hike, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail [Kindle]. Readers inspired by daring and insight in the outdoors should get Lucy Jane Bledsoe's The Ice Cave: A Woman's Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic.
[Photo: yesterday afternoon from my deck. Click to enlarge.]