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Mountain Writing Competition 2010

By Ania Kociolek (MAC Coordinator)

The competition was given a boost this year with 22 prose and 12 poetry entries; the best for some time. There was quite a range of styles, but strangely quite a few using dialect and building in an attendant use of profanity! This was not always to the judges liking, although there were some entries for which it did work.

Judges this year were Jayne Glass (Scottish Mountaineer Sub Editor), Kevin Howett (Editor), Stevie Christie (Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival), John Donohoe (Ex- MCofS president), Mike Merchant (last year’s Winner) and Ingrid Parker (English Teacher). This years’ judging was not an easy task with many entries bringing out extreme opposites of opinion.

In the Prose Category, one such was Andrew Moffat’s ‘Walkers’, a dialogue from two men escaping town for the first time with their more experienced hillgoing friend, which some found humorous , others not. Another was Jack Reilly’s Ben Wyvis, one of the aforementioned examples using profanity and dialect, was either hated or felt to be a good attempt at something different. However, there were a few which were unanimously enjoyed and came out on top.

Moira McPartlin won 3rd with her ‘Twenty Five Feet Behind’ story of a woman climber breaking free from her boyfriend’s leadership on Alpine climbs. Judges commented, “Vivid with lots of interesting observation and detail”, “Good imagery, well written…”, “...gets more and more caught up in the story as it develops.”

Second place went to Hamish Brown’s ‘Aonach Eagach’; a tragedy leads to a renewal love story, which then turns into a murder mystery, but with a final twist. This was “effective black humour bringing a smile”, “A great bit of noir storytelling” and “...thought provoking”.

The winning entry described “A great expedition through a year of Alpine climbing that climbers can relate to” and was considered “Masterly” with “…precise, vivid recollections swim(ing) out of a perfectly paced, dream-like narrative”. One judge considered it “full of energy”. It was entitled ‘When we passed through the Alps’ - a recollection of a first Alpine season from Tom Povey. “It may be prose, but it’s poetry as well”.

In the poetry category itself, there were three entries clearly enjoyed more than the rest, with just a few points between them. However, judges had great things to say about some of the others with Thomas Eagle’s un-named piece considered to have “delightful images”, “good rhythm” and “A good mix of human and natural observations”, and Roderick Manson’s ‘Instincts on Rising’ which had a “nice touch of humour” as well as “a very nice description of a sunrise”.

But, in third place was Mike Blood’s ‘Slip and Fall’ which was a “perceptive recollection of a fall” which had “a pace matching the mood being built, building a sense of suspense”. In second place was Sarah Flints ‘Winter Playground’ which was considered a “powerful poem with tremendous images”, including that of “light struggling through powder snow as ‘winter jewels’”.

The winner was another poem by Mike Blood: ‘Falzarago Pass’. Almost all the judges were taken by its “lively and concise way of capturing an unsettling moment”, whilst it also “builds a sombre, reflective and respectful mood”.


1st - Falzarago Pass, by Mike Blood

2nd - Winter Playground, by Sarah Flint

3rd - Slip and Fall, by Mike Blood


1st - When We Passed Through the Alps, by Tom Povey

2nd - Aonach Eagach, by Hamish Brown

3rd - Twenty-Five Feet Behind, by Moira McPartlin