Bernadette is a writer and mountain culture consultant based in Banff, Alberta. She is the author of ten books on mountaineering and mountain culture
Bernadette was born in 1951, in Biggar, Saskatchewan. She grew up on a prairie farm. Her childhood and most of her education was focused on music, with a special emphasis on the performance of contemporary classical chamber music. She studied at Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Western Ontario and The Banff Centre. She moved to the Canadian Rockies in the early 1970s.
She volunteered for the Banff Mountain Film Festival and she worked at The Banff Centre for twenty years, directing the Banff Mountain Festival and starting the Mountain Culture division. She resigned from her position of vice president, Mountain Culture in 2006 to concentrate on writing.
She lectures on a variety of mountain topics for universities, festivals and alpine clubs, consults on mountain cultural issues with start-up festivals and mountain institutes, and curates mountain-related exhibitions. She has a number of honours, including the Alberta Order of Excellence, the Summit of Excellence Award, the King Albert Award and several mountain literary prizes such as the 2011 Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature for her book 'Freedom Climbers'. She was Canada’s representative at the United Nations to launch the International Year of Mountains.
Her new book 'Art of Freedom', the biography of Voytek Kurtyka – a luminary of Polish climbing’s greatest era – will be published on 31 July 2017 by Vertebrate publishing.
"In Art of Freedom, she focuses on offering a compelling account of the inner life of Kurtyka, one of the greatest climbers in history. McDonald pulls no punches in sharing her insights into Kurtyka’s complicated relationships with partners, the law, climbing goals, risk and lifestyle, resulting in a picture of a truly remarkable man. Everyone interested in what drives a man capable of accomplishing some of the greatest climbs ever attempted will find this a very rewarding read".— David Chaundy-Smart, founding editor of Gripped and author of A Youth Wasted Climbing.
Opportunities to see Bernadette McDonald
Join award winning author Bernadette McDonald as she examines the life of one of the greatest alpinists of our time, Voytek Kurtyka.