Ascent Article “Leper Chai,” by Jeff Long, Nominated for Best Mountaineering Article, Banff Mountain Book Competition

In “Leper Chai,” which ran in Ascent 2020, Jeff Long tells the story about a long-ago expedition on Makalu that led to a stint in a Nepali jail.

By Jess Green | September 21st, 2020

Jeff Long’s story “Leper Chai,” which appeared in Ascent 2020has been nominated for Best Mountaineering Article in the 2020 Banff Mountain Book Competition. His is one of three articles up for the award, along with “Denali, A Universe,” by Jan Harper-Haines, and “Melting Giants,” by Benjamin Ribeyre and Erin Smart, both published in Alpinist.

The opening spread from Jeff Long’s Leper Chain, which appeared in Ascent 2020.

The Banff Mountain Book Competition also gives awards for mountain literature (non-fiction), mountain fiction and poetry, mountain environment and natural history, adventure travel, mountain image, guidebooks, and climbing literature.

The full long list of category finalists can be found here.

This years judges are Helen Rolfe, Nandini Purandare and Pete Takeda. A shortlist of category award winners—each eligible for for a $4,000 grand prize—will be announced in October.


[Also Read Jeff Long: Searching for Superman | Ascent 2016]


Jeff Long is a New York Times best-selling author. He has written 11 books including Angels of Light. Among other awards, Long has received the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature.

In “Leper Chai,” Long tells the story about a long-ago expedition on Makalu that led to a stint in a Nepali jail. Into that strange, foggy world came a surreal invitation—from a leper with an unrivaled chai recipe.

Long has won at Banff before. In 2016, Long’s article Searching for Superman, which also appeared in Ascent, was honored as the best mountaineering article.

“So well written, this super slice of übermensch, Fritz Stammberger’s life, read like magical realism. The juxtaposing of the bombing of his childhood home in Munich and the ill fated 1974 Makalu expedition is exceptional,” wrote, Paul Pritchard, one of the competition jurors that year.

In 2006, Long won the festival’s grand prize for his book The Wall.


Also Read


Jeff Long: Angels of Light | Ascent 2017

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