Bernadette McDonald

I am a writer and mountain culture consultant based in Banff, Alberta.
Welcome to my website and thank you for taking the time to explore it.

Latest Book

While you wouldn’t expect climbing an 8000-metre peak in winter to be a popular activity, there have been 178 expeditions (as of 2019) to the Himalaya and Karakoram during the cruelest season to do just that. Polish alpinist, Voytek Kurtyka, termed the practice the “art of suffering”. The stories begin with the original Ice Warrior Andrzej Zawada and his Polish team of Himalayan climbers who systematically claimed first winter ascents of more than half of the 8000ers. But although Polish climbers dominated the winter game for a generation, this story is international: Swiss climber Marianne Chapuisat’s first female winter ascent of an 8000er, American Cory Richards and his dramatic effort on Gasherbrum II with famed Italian alpinist Simone Moro and Kazakh hard man Denis Urubko, and many more.

Recent News

So many things in our lives have changed since Covid-19 became part of our everyday existence. Working from home has been the norm for me since 2006, so that was nothing new. In fact, writing a book about climbing in sub-zero temperatures seemed oddly appropriate, considering the severity of the past few winters in Banff. But come March or April, I usually get severely itchy feet, something I inherited from my dad, who loved to travel. As the winter drags on in the Canadian Rockies, I dream of warm rock, fresh vegetables, Greek hospitality, the sea. This year was no exception, and a fine trip was planned to the Peloponnese region of Greece. I booked the flights, the car, the hotels and apartments. I studied the guidebooks, highlighting the climbs that I had enjoyed in the past, and the ones I wanted to attempt on this trip. I trained at the gym, hoping the callouses on my fingertips would save me in that first punishing week on Greek limestone. All to no avail. Like for everyone, plans changed and spring was transformed into lockdown, a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. And lockdown in Banff was just fine, thanks to the long, snowy winter. This pic was our last day on skis, skimming along a supportive snowpack up in Paradise Valley, Mt. Temple looming overhead. Thanks to Chuck O’Callaghan for the photo.