The Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust


 

The Trust was established to promote literature by providing an annual award to authors of literary works, the central theme of which is concerned with the mountain environment. The prize of £3,000 commemorates the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker and is given to the author or co-authors of an original work, which has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature.

 
Image © Vertebrate

Image © Vertebrate

Image © Vertebrate

Image © Vertebrate

 

On 17 May 1982 Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were last seen on Mount Everest attempting to traverse The Pinnacles on the unclimbed North East Ridge at around 8250 metres. Their deaths marked the end of a remarkable era in British mountaineering.

Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods, which included Dunagiri, Changabang, Kongur, Everest and Kangchenjunga. The second and more lasting achievement were the books they wrote and left behind. This literary legacy lives on through the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature set up by family and friends in 1983.

 

Award History


 

Barely a month after Pete and Joe disappeared, a small group meeting in Manchester agreed to progress an as yet undefined Boardman Tasker Memorial. The Award itself has its origins in a meeting of friends and relatives in Dorothy Boardman’s sitting room in December 1982. All those gathered there shared a desire both to preserve the memory of Joe and Pete, but also to do so in a way which would be inspirational for those who would follow. They also felt a duty to respond to people’s wish to donate to a “fitting memorial”. It was agreed that a prize for mountain literature would meet all of these objectives. A Trust was formed and over £20,000 raised through an appeal.

The first judging took place the following year in 1983. The judges, Lord Hunt, David Cox and Ronald Faux, set a high standard using the books of Joe and Pete as benchmarks. Somewhat bravely, this led them to decide not to award the prize to any of the books entered that first year as in their view the quality did not meet the level set by Pete and Joe’s works. The following year was different and there were two joint winners, Linda Gill’s Living High, and The Shishapangma Expedition by Doug Scott and the late Alex MacIntyre - the quality standard had been reached!

Over the following years, the high standards were maintained and entries challenged our judges not least through the sheer variety of literary types - novels, poetry, expeditions, biography, history, reminiscences, and mountain travel and so on. The annual award event was first held at the Alpine Club in South Audley Street until 1989 and then returned to the Alpine Club’s new premises in Charlotte Road until 2006 with the year of the actual move seeing us temporarily in a Barclays West End Management suite! In 2007, the Award event moved to Kendal with the Kendal Mountain Festival as hosts and there it remains to the benefits of both parties.

Over the first thirty years through special appeals, events and gifts the Trust has received around £60,000 in donations to support the memory of Pete and Joe through the prize. In that period, there were 526 entries, assessed by 46 different judges who selected 30 winners, enabling the Trust to distribute over £50,000 in prize money. Yet careful financial management and a steady trickle of continuing donations lead the Trustees to anticipate that we can look forward to another 30 years if the support of friends continues.

As can be seen from the website, the pace has continued to increase since the 30th anniversary and in the most recent year, 2015, there were over 30 entries. In addition, 2013 saw the launch of a Young Writers Award which produced worthy winners in 2013 and 2014. The Trust is continuing to explore how to develop this aspect of commemorating Pete and Joe and their lives and achievements.

 

Pete and Joe


 

On 17 May 1982 Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were last seen on Mount Everest attempting to traverse The Pinnacles on the unclimbed North East Ridge at around 8250 metres. Their deaths marked the end of a remarkable era in British mountaineering.

Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods which included Dunagiri, Changabang, Kongur, Everest and Kangchenjunga. The second and more lasting achievement were the books they wrote and left behind.

 

 

Peter Boardman

Pete Boardman on British K2 Expedition 1978 | Image © Vertebrate

Pete Boardman on British K2 Expedition 1978 | Image © Vertebrate

Peter Boardman, born on Christmas Day 1950, was educated at Stockport Grammar School and took a degree in English at Nottingham University. His first expedition was to Afghanistan in 1972 and in 1975 he was a member of the Everest South West Face Expedition led by Chris Bonington. As one of the strongest members of the expedition he was chosen for the second ascent, successfully reaching the summit of Everest on 26 September 1975.

After Everest his expeditions followed with frightening speed. In 1976 he visited the Polish High Tatra and later that year joined Joe Tasker on the legendary climb of Changabang. In 1978, by now firmly established as one of the most respected high altitude climbers, he took part in the K2 Expedition, which was marred by the tragic death of Nick Estcourt, and in 1979 successfully climbed Kangchenjunga with Joe Tasker, Doug Scott and Georges Bettembourg. Later that year he was to climb Gaurisankar in Nepal and in 1980 returned to K2 reaching 7975 metres but poor weather and exhaustion prevented a further summit attempt.

Mount Kongur followed in 1981 and in March 1982 in a small expedition with Chris Bonington, Joe Tasker and Dick Renshaw he attempted the North East Ridge of Everest in which he and Joe Tasker so tragically lost their lives.

Peter's talent for writing emerged through his climbing career. The success of his first book, The Shining Mountain, was immediate in the climbing world and won him wider acclaim with the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize for literature in 1979. Sacred Summits, published shortly after his death, described the climbing year of 1979, the trips to New Guinea, Kangchenjunga and Gaurisankar.

Peter Boardman obituary

Joe Tasker

Joe Tasker on British K2 Expedition 1978 | Image © Vertebrate

Joe Tasker on British K2 Expedition 1978 | Image © Vertebrate

Joe Tasker was born in Hull in 1948. As the eldest son of a strong Catholic family, Joe was sent to Ushaw College, a Roman Catholic seminary, at the age of thirteen but later took a degree in sociology at Manchester University. After getting a good degree, he decided not to settle into a career but to allow himself the freedom to climb. His early mountaineering was largely spent in the Alps where he climbed a number of demanding routes, including the North Face of the Eiger in the winter of 1974-5.

In 1975 he experienced his first Himalayan peaks, preferring small light weight expeditions. After Dunagiri in 1976, he conceived the audacious idea of climbing the awesome West Wall of Changabang with Peter Boardman. In 1977 he attempted, without success, the North Ridge of Nuptse and in 1978 he went with Chris Bonington's expedition to K2,where he witnessed the huge avalanche that swept away his friend Nick Estcourt. The following year, in 1979, he went to Nepal and successfully climbed Kangchenjunga with Doug Scott, Peter Boardman and Georges Bettembourg. In 1980 he returned to K2 and in an epic attempt with Peter Boardman reached 7975 metres before being thwarted by unsettled weather.

Shortly after returning from K2, Joe attempted a winter ascent of the West Ridge of Everest. Later that year, in 1981, he summited Mount Kongur, an unclimbed peak in Western China, with Chris Bonington Peter Boardman and Alan Rouse. He returned again to Everest in March 1982 to climb the North East Ridge on which he tragically lost his life with Peter Boardman.

Joe developed a special talent for writing. His first book, Everest The Cruel Way, was an exciting account of his winter attempt on Everest and his second book, Savage Arena, was finished just before he left for Everest in 1982.

Joe Tasker obituary

 
Image © Werner Trimmel

Image © Werner Trimmel