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Pierre Lemire Receives 2015 Summit of Excellence Award

October 14, 2015


By Crowfoot Media


Presented at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival each year since 1987, the annual Summit of Excellence Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies. It is presented in memory of Calgary climber, Bill March, an internationally respected mountaineer, author, and educator, who led Canada’s first successful Everest climb in 1982. Previous award winners include naturalist Ben Gadd (2013), author Bernadette McDonald (2007), mountaineering historian, Chic Scott (2000), and alpinist Barry Blanchard (2002). Mountain guide and photographer, Pierre Lemire, is this year’s deserving winner.

Pierre Lemire. Photo by Henry Vaux Jr.

Pierre Lemire. Photo by Henry Vaux Jr.

Bio courtesy the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. 

Pierre Lemire’s prolific career working as a certified mountain guide and photographer in the Rockies happened almost by chance.

As a teenager growing up in Quebec, Lemire was inspired by men of the mountains, and holds Frank Smythe, the British mountaineer, writer and explorer as an inspirational figure in his early life.

Initially a portrait and street photographer, Lemire’s fascination with mountain landscapes and communities drew him to the Rocky Mountains from Quebec in 1965. Upon arrival in Alberta, the 18-year-old Lemire started work as a store man at the Chateau Lake Louise and later at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House – a move which was to prove both pivotal and instrumental for what was set to happen in the next 50 or so years of his life as a photographer and in the Rockies.

During this time he fell in love with mountain life and a few years later managed to get a job as a lift operator at the Lake Louise ski field. He had found his calling. Soon Lemire was learning about avalanches, and took his first course to become an assistant guide with Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) in 1971. He worked for the following three years in avalanche control in Rogers Pass and by 1974 was a certified mountain guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Soon after his certification, he started to work for CMH as a heli-skiing guide where he quickly progressed through the ranks, and from 1980 to 1990 Lemire also worked as an Examiner for the ACMG.

Throughout this time he continued to pursue his love for photography, a hobby he developed as a child. “Photography was my passion, definitely as much as I liked mountaineering and skiing,” he said. “It also was a fantastic opportunity for me to take photographs.”

Lemire’s love of photographing people and mountains led him to travel the world – Peru, Burma, Greenland, Bolivia, India and Guatemala among some of the highlights – and document his experiences through the lens, processing all of his images in the bath tub at home, which he still does to this day.

“My passion for photography has always been more with people than with scenery,” said Lemire. “The photos I have taken have been hugely influenced by the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to have met people who channel and help me.”

Lemire’s work has appeared in Canadian Summits, Equniox, and the Faces of Canada exhibit. Lemire, who now lives in Field, British Columbia, is most proud of his work which appeared in The Hills of Nepal exhibit at the Whyte Museum in 2000 featuring intimate photographs of men, women and children taken over the course of three visits to the foothills of the Himalaya.

His photo of Bugaboo Spire is featured on the cover of Voices from the Summit, published by National Geographic Society in collaboration with The Banff Centre to commemorate 25 years of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2000.

When asked what it takes to be a good photographer, Lemire replied: “The only difference is the motivation and passion. You have to be a little bit crazy, passionate and driven.”

The 2015 Summit of Excellence Award is sponsored by Norseman.

Pierre Lemire will be presented with the Summit of Excellence Award on the closing night of the festival, November 8, 2015. 

Created 40 years ago, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The nine-day Festival hosted by The Banff Centre showcases the world’s best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment and natural history, exploration and adventure, wildlife, and sport – and attracts the biggest names in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and extreme sports as presenters and speakers. An international jury will also award over $50,000 in prizes for films and books submitted to this year’s Festival competitions.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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