Books are always a good gift at Christmas time, and here are some suggestions for anyone on your list who loves mountains, and particularly the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies. My first two recommendations are classics, but still readily available throughout the region.
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies by Ben Gadd (Corax Press) $44.95 Whenever we revise the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, this is the book that rests by our side for instant reference to anything and everything about the natural history of the mountain parks. “Plants, mammals, birds, fish, insects, geology, weather, history, hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, boating—it’s all here, with over a thousand color illustrations.” First published in 1986, revised into a colour edition in 1995, and updated in 2009, it remains the “bible” for anyone spending time in the mountains.
Diamond Hitch: the pioneer guides and outfitters of Banff and Jasper by E.J. “Ted” Hart. (Summerthought) $19.95 If you hike a lot in the Canadian Rockies, sooner or later you will develop a curiosity about the pioneers who blazed the trails we walk today. Originally published in 1979, Ted Hart’s colourful history of the early packers and outfitters is the key to understanding how backcountry recreation developed. We’ve used and enjoyed it for over three decades, and it is a must for any Rockies library.
The Skoki Cookbook by Katie Mitzel $34.95 Published in 2012 by the author, who is the long-time chef at the historic Skoki Lodge in the mountain backcountry east of Lake Louise. In addition to being filled with some of Katie’s favourite lodge recipes, it is lavishly illustrated with dozens of historic, scenic and culinary photographs, including a rare portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) during their visit to the lodge in July 2011. It is a beautifully designed book for any holiday coffee table or kitchen library.
Everest: High Expectations by Pat Morrow & Sharon Wood (Bungalo Books) $9.95 And finally, a gift for the person on your list who has everything, especially an iPad with Retina display or a Mac running OS X 10.9 (Mavericks). One of Canada’s first interactive, coffee-table eBooks tells the story of the 1982 and 1986 Canadian Everest expeditions. In addition to text by Pat Morrow and Sharon Wood, the book features other well-known mountaineers from western Canada and a video introduction by Banff mountaineer-historian Chic Scott. Only available online from iTunes, which offers a “gift” option for emailing to those last-minute folks on your list.