“Climbing and adventure stories lend themselves to good storytelling because they’re about events and places that are out of the ordinary in every way,” says writer and mountaineer Jack Tackle. “If someone possesses the skills to write or talk about their experiences well, then the stories can be compelling and interesting to a lot of people. Many will never climb a mountain or kayak some rad river, or ski a sick line. But they will want to read and hear about it because it may motivate them to do something different, or change how they look at the world.”
Part of The Banff Centre’s appeal is its blend of arts and mountain culture, and the Mountain and Wilderness Writing program is a unique synthesis of the two, routinely attracts a diverse roster of writers who hunker down in the Leighton Artists’ Colony every November to work on nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.
The scope of the program has expanded to include subjects as remote as Mars, but climbing and mountaineering narratives are still at its foundation. For Tackle, a veteran climber and guide, the program presented an opportunity to devote concentrated time to crafting a book about his career and adventures.
Known for his exploration of remote areas and discovery of new routes in places like Alaska and Patagonia, Tackle’s personality befits an accomplished mountaineer. Soft-spoken yet assured, he immediately inspires confidence, with a demeanor cut with flashes of humor and self-deprecation. “Climbing itself isn’t that interesting,” he told me. “It isn’t like driving an F-1 car”.