About the Book
Winner of the 2015 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival award for Mountaineering History
After the Second World War a period of relative calm began in Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia. During the next thirty years citizens could travel freely if they had the money. Most did not, but alpinists did.
Through elaborate training régimes and state-supported expeditions abroad, Yugoslavian alpinists began making impressive climbs in the Himalaya as early as 1960. By the ’70s, they were ascending the 8000ers. These teams were dominated by Slovenian climbers, since their region includes the Julian Alps, a fiercely steep range of limestone peaks that provided the ideal training ground.
After Tito died in 1980, however, the calm ended. Inter-ethnic conflict and economic decline ripped Yugoslavia apart. But Serbian strongman Slobodan Miloševic misread the courage and character of several Yugoslavian states, including Slovenia, and by 1991 Slovenia was independent.
The new country continued its support for climbers, and success bred success. By 1995, all of the 8000ers had been climbed by Slovenian teams. And in the next ten years, some of the most dramatic and futuristic climbs were made by these ferocious alpinists. Apart from a few superstars, most of these amazing athletes remain unknown in the West.
“A fascinating account of the extraordinary achievements of the alpinists from this tiny Slovenian nation … Once started, I couldn’t put the book down till it was finished.”
– Sir Chris Bonington, alpinist, author of I Chose to Climb
“Alpine Warriors is an important book, possibly one of mountain literature’s greatest works, not only for its tale but also for the intelligence, agility and poetry that Bernadette McDonald brings to its telling…. it takes mountain literature – and mountain culture – to new heights.”
– Jeff Long, author of The Wall
“In Alpine Warriors, Bernadette McDonald exposes the mysterious desire that drives climbers into the void, that alluring domain of space and light. Reading these stories helps me to maintain my pride in belonging to that human tribe called climbers.”
– Voytek Kurtyka, alpinist, author of Chiński Maharadża
“… a groundbreaking history of Slovenian mountaineering that flows like an epic poem.”
– Katie Ives, editor-in-chief of Alpinist
“The exhaustive intensity of the research in this volume reminds us of siege mountaineering techniques; the writing and masterful exploration of human motivation is elegant, like alpine style. Bernadette McDonald shows us a mountain way that stands on the shoulders of giants.”
– Carlos Carsolio, alpinist
“Alpine Warriors is … about a heroic clan of climbers inexorably tied to the tragic history of the former Yugoslavia. This is a chapter in the history not just of international alpinism, but of the world itself. It shouldn’t be missed.”
– Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon, feature writer at The Globe & Mail
“Bernadette McDonald has plunged into the culture, cults and controversies of the Slovenian climbing scene to produce a revealing portrait of a place where climbers enjoy the status of gurus, pro athletes and rock stars. It’s her best book yet.”
– Greg Childs, alpinist, author of Over the Edge
“The stories recounted here often seem heroic, but more importantly, they illuminate significant and little-known anecdotes from our common history as climbers. Slovenian alpinism encapsulates an approach that all climbers can aspire to.”
– Steve House, alpinist, author of Beyond the Mountain