Perthshire writer Alan Laing has won not one but two prizes in a mountain writing competition.
Alan, of Main Street, Balbeggie, has taken second prize in the prose section and third in the poetry section of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s Mountain Writing Competition 2014. And he’s no stranger to the competition either, for in 2013 he took third prize in the prose section.
This year the judges praised his ‘Death and Life on the Mountain’ – an “imaginative exploration of the life of a mountain” which starts with the scattering of ashes on a Scottish hill. His poem, ‘Land of the Mountain and the Flood’ took as its topic a subject all hill walkers in Scotland know well – the hills… and the rain. The judges described it as “amusing and ingenious”, with “a great rhythm that evokes falling rain”.
The first prizewinner in the prose competition was Ian Blake, from near Gairloch, Wester Ross, with ‘The Climber’s Tale’, an account of a desperate solo climb on a mountain crag – with a twist in the tail. Third place went to Airdrie man Jim Cassidy’s ‘Via Ferrata’, a hard-hitting tale that isn’t quite what it seems.
In the poetry section, first prize went to David Wilson, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, whose unremarkably-titled ‘The Climber’ reveals an affecting portrait of the life journey of Polish mountaineering legend Wanda Rutkiewicz, who died on Kanchenjunga in the Himalaya. Second prize went to Jack Hastie, of Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire, with ‘Resurrection 1959’, capturing a long-gone era in Scottish mountaineering.
The MCofS has been running its Mountain Article Competition since 1987, seeking out the best in mountain writing seeking out the best in mountain writing, whether fact or fiction, prose or poetry. First prize in the prose competition is £150 and first in the poetry competition is £100, each also receiving a free weekend pass to the 2015 Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival in February. The winning essays and poems will also be published in the February edition of Scottish Mountaineer, the quarterly membership magazine of the MCofS and will also be published on the MCofS website in due course.