Gordon’s life of epic adventure

Gordon Staniforth. Photo: John Staniforth.
Gordon Staniforth. Photo: John Staniforth.
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A Derbyshire author has been short-listed for not just one but two prestigious mountaineering book awards.

Belper writer Gordon Stainforth will be speaking at the Buxton Adventure Festival a week on Sunday about “Fiva: An Adventure That Went Wrong”.

Though he is renowned for his photography, “Fiva” is Gordon’s first literary book. Last month he found out that the British Boardman-Tasker Prize had made him one of six finalists for their £3,000 prize, which commemorates the lives of climbers Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker who died on Everest in 1982.

Now the Canadian Banff Mountain Book Competition have made Fiva one of the five finalists in their Mountain and Wilderness Literature category.

“Fiva” (pronounced Fever) is the tale of the near-death experience Gordon and his twin brother John had on Store Trolltind - the highest mountain in the Romsdal region of Norway - when they were teenagers in 1969. The belated recounting of the story was prompted by the twins’ 40th anniversary trip back to Romsdal.

Gordon says he’s delighted to be up for the awards: “I’m over the moon. To be short-listed for both prizes is fantastic.  I’m so honoured - especially in the face of such strong competition.

“Even if I don’t win it’ll still be like getting two bronzes in the Olympics just to be on the short-lists.”

It’s not just the literary world that’s recognised the author. Fellow climbers have been generous with their praise. Best-seller Joe Simpson tweeted to his followers that ‘Fiva’ is a “wonderful, nostalgic, gripping, classic, epic yarn (told) with great humour (that) deserves to win many awards.”

Mountaineer Stephen Venables described the book as “the most intelligent disaster story to appear for years” and Sir Chris Bonington no less called it a “brilliant and refreshing read” that “once started you can’t put down”.

The public certainly seem to agree. Ever since its publication earlier this year it’s had five-star reviews on Amazon.

Gordon promises he won’t ruin the ending for anyone coming to the Buxton Adventure Festival who hasn’t read the book so he’ll also be talking about his early climbing career leading up to the Fiva epic, with many original images and even some Super-8 movie film taken at the time. And he’ll be talking more widely about what we mean by adventure.

Gordon describes his whole life as having been a creative adventure. After studying philosophy at university and film at art college he went on to work with directors like Ridley Scott and most notably was music editor on Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’.

In his own words: “Life is a bit like an epic climb which has unexpected twists and turns and close shaves and never, never goes how you’d expect - but that’s in a way is what a good story is - never predictable.”

l Gordon’s talk at the Pavilion Arts Centre is on Sunday October 21 at 5.30pm.

Tickets are £10, with multisaver, concessions and family tickets available. Visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk or call 0845 127 2190.