A Recommended Reading List from the BLBCA Team
Whether you are an adventurous bibliophile or a bibliophilic adventurist, we know there is something wonderful about sticking your nose in a great piece of outdoor literature. This has never been truer than these days while we are all staying close to home but yearning for the sweet escape that books can provide.
Our BLBCA team has rounded up our favourite titles so you can add to your to-be-read list, so you can get lost in the wild of a tantalizing tale.
Adventurers from all over the world come to Canada’s Selkirks, a mecca for ski touring that offers unlimited mountain terrain and lots of snow. On a clear, cold morning in January 1998, six experienced back-country skiers set out across one of its heavily loaded slopes and were caught in a Class 3 avalanche, burying all of them in its path. Vivien Bowers takes us through the tragic series of events, focusing on one of the young women who perished in the slide, and the avalanche’s aftermath. Bowers illuminates a natural phenomenon that has threatened human endeavours throughout the world. Interwoven with the narrative is the science behind the event, including avalanche triggers and the complex process of avalanche prediction. Her book also raises unsettling questions about acceptable risk, about human fallibility, about living fully and dying young-and about what might entice a group of knowledgeable, experienced skiers to place themselves in the path of an avalanche.
In Switchbacks, Sid Marty draws on his own memories and those of friends and former colleagues in relating a series of true mountain tales. Along the way, Marty tries to answer the kind of questions that all of us must face some day. Do we really have to “grow up” and abandon adventure as well as youthful ideals? Can the mountains draw old friends back together, when politics and lifestyles have set them apart? Sid Marty writes gracefully of the land he loves and lampoons a few bureaucrats whose policies sometimes threaten its integrity. His portraits of the people – and creatures – that make their lives in the mountains are affectionate and respectful. But, above all, this is a collection of engaging, surprising, funny, and superbly told true stories by a gifted writer.
Of all the mountain guides who came to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Conrad Kain is probably the most respected and well known. He brought glamour and imagination into the sport of mountaineering as few guides have done before him. Recalling his personality and amusing stories one should not forget that his approach to mountains was first and foremost an aesthetic one; he saw a peak first as something beautiful—the technical problem was always secondary — and nothing counted beside that vision.
Touching the Void is the heart-stopping account of Joe Simpson’s terrifying adventure in the Peruvian Andes. He and his climbing partner, Simon, reached the summit of the remote Siula Grande in June 1985. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that that Joe was dead. What happened to Joe, and how the pair dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship..
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.
The White Spider dramatically recreates not only the harrowing, successful ascent made by Harrer and his comrades in 1938, but also the previous, tragic attempts at a wall of rock that was recently enshrined in mountaineer Jon Krakauer’s first work, Eiger Dreams. For a generation of American climbers, The White Spider has been a formative book–yet it has long been out-of-print in America. This edition awaits discovery by Harrer’s new legion of readers.
In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Drawing on ground-breaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth and learning to give our own gifts in return.
Cea Sunrise Person’s compelling memoir of a childhood spent with her dysfunctional counter-culture family in the Canadian wilderness—a searing story of physical, emotional, and psychological survival. In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons were not trying to build a new society—they wanted to escape civilization altogether. North of Normal is Cea’s funny, shocking, heartbreaking, and triumphant tale of self-discovery and acceptance, adversity, and strength that will leave no reader unmoved.