Norwegian Polar adventurer wins Canadian book prize

On Nov. 5, Norwegian Polar adventurer Børge Ousland was awarded the prize for Best Adventure Travel book at the 2009 Banff Mountain Book Festival in Canada.

Ousland (47), who hails from Oslo, won the award for his book The Great Polar Journey — In the Footsteps of Nansen.

The book is a compelling narrative of his 2007 expedition recreating the original route pioneered by Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen in 1895 through Franz Joseph Land in their attempt to reach the North Pole.

“Following in Nansens footsteps has been a highlight in my career,” Børge writes on his website.

The 2009 festival jury was Stephen Goodwin (United Kingdom), Jon Popowich (Canada) and Susan E.B. Schwartz (United States).

Susan E.B. Schwartz says: “Børge Ousland does a terrific job at an inherently complex task. Interweaving accounts of Nansen’s journey, general polar history, and his personal expedition, Ousland is a crisp writer with the added benefit of being arguably the contemporary authority on polar exploration. The result is alternately fascinating, delightful, insightful, inspiring, and frank and the stunning photography is another plus.”

She continued by saying: “Ousland doesn’t shy from providing graphic details into the physical challenges of a polar expedition (an explorer on an early American expedition slept next to the body of his dead comrade for three months until the ground softened for burial) or probing uncomfortable personal truths about the pull of expeditions versus personal lives back home, and what we gain versus what we give up in modern lives. The result is a tome that soars for the reader on many levels.”

For 16 years, running concurrently with the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the Banff Mountain Book Festival brings the spirit of outdoor adventure and the tradition of mountain literature to Banff, uniting writers, publishers, editors, photographers, and readers.

The Film Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. It was created more than 30 years ago, and 2009 marks the 34th annual Festival.

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