Steppes Travel Adventure Travel Book of the Year

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SHORTLIST:
Outpost by Dan Richards

There are still wild places out there on our crowded planet.

Through a series of personal journeys, Dan Richards explores the appeal of far-flung outposts in mountains, tundra, forests, oceans and deserts. Following a route from the Cairngorms of Scotland to the fire-watch lookouts of Washington State; from Iceland’s ‘Houses of Joy’ to the Utah desert; frozen ghost towns in Svalbard to shrines in Japan; Roald Dahl’s writing hut to a lighthouse in the North Atlantic, Richards explores landscapes which have inspired writers, artists and musicians, and asks: why are we drawn to wilderness? What can we do to protect them? And what does the future hold for outposts on the edge?

Rough Magic: Riding the world's wildest horse race by Lara Prior-Palmer

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

From the Lion's Mouth: A Journey Along the Indus by Iain Campbell

Iain Campbell tells the story of a journey following the course of the Indus River from its mouth in the mudflats of Karachi through the Karakorum, Kashmir and the Himalayas to its source in Ladakh on the Indian side of the Tibetan plateau, where it springs from the 'Lion's Mouth' on Mount Kailash. His narrative paints an insightful, honest and heartfelt portrait of Pakistan, a country that through all his wanderings of the deserts and mountains of Asia kept drawing him back, and a place which combines a rich religious heritage with some of the most spectacular mountains in the world.


Over the course of his journey, he is exposed to all sides of local life, from a Sufi shrine attended by crocodiles to a Holy man competing with Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi clerics in the Swat Valley, a near meeting with the fairies of Nanga Parbat and the temple of a three-year-old Buddhist lama on the edge of the Tibetan plateau.
Engrossing and eye-opening, Iain Campbell's account of his travels through this mesmerising land will appeal to travellers, mountaineers, trekkers, wilderness enthusiasts, anyone interested in the culture and history of the subcontinent, and fans of quality travel writing.

The Impossible Climb:  Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott

On June 3rd 2017 Mark Synnott was in Yosemite to witness something that only a handful of people knew was about to occur: the most famous climber in the world, Alex Honnold, was going to attempt to summit one of the world’s most challenging ascents, a route called Freerider on the notorious rock formation El Capitan. It is a climb extraordinarily dangerous and difficult, and yet Honnold was going to do it ‘free solo’. Meaning no help. No climbing partner. No equipment. No rope. Where a single small mistake would mean certain death. Indeed, to summit El Cap free solo was a feat likened to Neil Armstrong first walking on the moon.

In The Impossible Climb, Mark Synnott uses his own career as a professional climber to paint an insider portrait of the elite climbing community, exploring what motivates them, the paradoxical drive to keep the sport pure and at the same time to fund climbs, and the role that awareness of mortality plays in the endeavour. We watch through Mark’s eyes as Alex plots, trains and attempts his heart-stopping free-solo ascent. Ultimately this is a story not only about climbing but about what makes us human, how we respond to fear and our drive to transcend the inevitability of death.

Where There's A Will by Emily Chappell

In 2015, Emily Chappell embarked on a formidable new bike race: The Transcontinental. 4,000km across Europe, unassisted, in the shortest time possible. On her first attempt she made it only halfway, waking up suddenly on her back in a field, floored by the physical and mental exertion.

A year later she entered the race again - and won.

Where There's a Will takes us into Emily Chappell's race, grinding up mountain passes and charging down the other side; snatching twenty minutes' sleep on the outskirts of a village before jumping back on the bike to surge ahead for another day; feeding in bursts and navigating on the go. We experience the crippling self-doubt of the ultra distance racer, the confusing intensity of winning and the desperation of losing a dear friend who understood all of this.

Journeys in the Wild: The Secret Life of a Cameraman by Gavin Thurston

From Gavin Thurston, the award-winning Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II cameraman with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough comes extraordinary and adventurous true stories of what it takes to track down and film our planet’s most captivating creatures.

 

Gavin has been a wildlife photographer for over thirty years. Against a backdrop of modern world history, he’s lurked in the shadows of some of the world’s remotest places in order to capture footage of the animal kingdom’s finest: prides of lions, silverback gorillas, capuchin monkeys, brown bears, grey whales, penguins, mosquitoes – you name it he’s filmed it.

 

From journeys to the deepest depths of the Antarctic Ocean and the wide expanse of the Saharan deserts, to the peaks of the Himalayas and the wild forests of the Congo, Gavin’s experiences describe much more than just the incredible array of animals he’s filmed. He invites you to come inside the cameraman’s hidden world and discover the hours spent patiently waiting for the protagonists to appear; the inevitable dangers in the wings and the challenges faced and overcome; and the heart-warming, life-affirming moments the cameras miss as well as capture.

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© 2019 Edward Stanford Limited