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category: Sports & Recreation
published: May 2015
publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

A Youth Wasted Climbing

by David Chaundy-Smart

tagged: mountaineering, extreme sports, sports

Shortlisted for the 2015 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival award for Mountain & Wilderness Literature.


David Chaundy-Smart took it as a compliment when his high school vice-principal told him he was wasting his youth by climbing. Here, he tells the story of how he and his brother, Reg, spent the last years of the 1970s fighting suburban boredom to become, in the words of renowned climbing historian Chic Scott, “one of the leading figures in Ontario rock climbing throughout the 1980s.”


With its vivid accounts of short and nasty climbs, dubious mentors, hapless climbing partners, teenage crushes, bad cars, underage drinking and questionable climbing techniques, this is a memoir of coming of age in a simpler era of climbing, told with compassion, humour and insight.

About the Author

David Chaundy-Smart has been climbing since 1975 throughout North America and Europe. He has completed hundreds of new routes in eastern Canada and is the founder of Gripped, Canada’s Climbing Magazine, Canadian Running Magazine, Canadian Cycling Magazine and Triathlon Magazine Canada. He is also the author of five climbing guidebooks; a memoir entitled A Youth Wasted Climbing (RMB, 2015), short-listed by the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2015; and the climbing novel Above the Reich, published by Imaginary Mountain Surveyors. He lives in Toronto, where he is the editorial director of Gripped Publishing and is still an active new router in northern Ontario.

Editorial Reviews

Chaundy-Smart’s writing has an enjoyable cadence. There are paragraphs that distil relationships, life and death. An entertaining and educational read about a part of the North American climbing scene we don’t often read about.—Edward Webster, author of Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest, 2001 Finalist, Boardman-Tasker Mountain Literature Prize; Finalist, Mountain Literature Prize, 2001 Banff Mountain Book Festival

I enjoyed this short and sweet story of young adventure. Mostly, because it shows that you only need a few essential traits to be a good rock climber: a drive to go to the mountains (often), intuition and confidence in your own climbing abilities, and a lot of luck.—ClimbCore

In words that will feel familiar to many climbers who came of age when rock climbing was little understood and scorned, Chaundy-Smart writes, “A seductive voice said I was made for something better that no one, as yet, understood but me…. I was becoming visible and couldn’t help it if people didn’t like what they saw.” Even if, like me, you know next to nothing about the climbing of eastern Canada, you’ll find much to love—and much that feels universal—in Chaundy-Smart’s memoir: colourful characters, love and loss, and hair-raising, how-did-we-ever-survive climbing adventures.—Dougald MacDonald, Executive Editor, American Alpine Journal

Chaundy-Smart’s description of his youth has all the understatement and dry wit of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. There is a natural rhythm to the book that makes it a joy to read: pure and simple. Bloody brilliant.—Paul Pritchard, author of Deep Play and The Totem Pole, 1997 and 1999 winner of the Boardman-Tasker Mountain Literature Prize

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