Buxton Adventure Festival speaker shortlisted for Boardman Tasker Prize
Buxton Adventure Festival speaker Gordon Stainforth has been short-listed for the prestigious 2012 Boardman-Tasker Prize- the Man-Booker of the mountaineering world - for his new book "Fiva - An Adventure That Went Wrong." The winner will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival on November 16th.
Gordon told Heason Events: "It's a great honour. It’s the Booker award really of the climbing literature world. I’m thrilled to bits. You have to accept that even if you don’t win it’s still like getting a bronze medal at the Olympics. People say you’re exaggerating when you say that, but all I can say is they haven’t written a book if they think it’s trivial!"
In response to Joe Simpson, best-selling author of 'Touching the Void' calling 'Fiva' a "wonderful, nostalgic, gripping, classic epic yarn with great humour [that] deserves to win many many awards", Gordon told us: "I know Joe quite well, though he’s not exactly a close friend - so to have people like that respond and say nice things is very encouraging."
He added: "It's extremely satisfying to have good reviews from great climbers like Stephen Venables and Chris Bonington but what is almost equally satisfying - possibly more - is when non climbers have come to me and said how much they’ve enjoyed the book. That to me makes it almost more satisfying and successful - that it gets through to anybody and it’s not just a specialist mountaineering story."
You can hear Gordon's illustrated talk followed by two excellent short climbing films (50 Years in the Mountains and Samsara) at 5pm on Sunday 21st October. Tickets are available to buy now from Buxton Opera House.
Belated post holiday congratulations from the Heason Events Team to Gordon! Below is my review of the book. You can read lots more and buy a copy of Fiva on Amazon.
FIVA, An Adventure That Went Wrong by Gordon Stainforth, review by Lissa Cook
I need to preface this review with a) a declaration of interest and b) a declaration of incompetence.
Author Gordon Stainforth is one of the speakers at Heason Events’ latest venture - the Buxton Adventure Festival (October 20-21 www.buxtonadventurefestival.co.uk). I do Matt Heason’s PR so it’s in my self-interest to big up Gordon’s book. I confess if I’d hated this book, I’d have kept my mouth shut.
I should also point out that, though I do the PR for an adventure sports events company and am married to an adventure sports journalist, I’m possibly the least adventurous person I know. I’m an omniphobe and though I overcame my fear of heights last year with the help of a brilliant neuro-linguistic programming course (run by Will4Adventure) i’m the least likely person to be found a few thousand foot up a sheer rock face. A 50ft climb on Stanage is likely to be the summit of my climbing achievements.
So I picked up the book after a run on Saturday thinking I was being dutiful and getting a bit of PR research under my belt. Fast-forward 6 hours, a bag of toffee and numerous cups of tea later and I’d had one of those holy grail of reading moments - a truly unput-downable read.
Fiva (pronounced Fever) is the tale of the near-death experience Gordon and his twin brother John had on Store Trolltind - the highest mountain in the Romsdal region of Norway back in 1969. A 40th anniversary return trip prompted the belated comparison of log-books and reconciliation of often differing memories. Gordon chose to write in the first person as his 19 year old self. I confess I was very dubious about this, thinking it was a bit of a pretentious device and would inevitably end up sounding contrived. Two pages in and I was totally immersed.
I don’t want to spoil the story - save to say that you know when two climbers set out on a trip on a Sunday morning leaving a note saying they’ll be back by dinnertime and only take three cheese sandwiches and a couple of fruit and nut bars between them that - in true Hollywood style - it’s all bound to go horribly wrong. It does.
What’s refreshing is that you’re swept up in their youthful, naive enthusiasm and enjoy their close rapport and silly in-jokes. The story’s tinged with sadness because of their mother’s recent death from cancer and their father’s obvious desire to give his boys a taste of freedom to help them deal with their bereavement. The description of their feelings of guilt and shame at the torture they will put their father through the moment when it appears they aren’t going to get down the mountain are truly touching.
My other concern was that this first person, historical narrative would mean the adventure had no context. So John’s afterword was unexpected and welcome, giving me an interesting insight into his perspective on what had gone wrong and reflections on lessons learned.
I really can’t recommend the book highly enough. If you loved Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void, you’ll love this. And, forgive the plug, but I really can’t wait to hear Gordon’s illustrated talk in Buxton in the autumn followed by two classic climbing films - Mountain Equipment’s historical retrospective “50 Years in the Mountains” and Samsara - Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk’s account of the first attempt on this Himalayan face.