Preuss, Comici and Royal Robbins: meet David Smart, biographer of the great climbers

David Smart, October 2023, in Banff, Canada. ©Zoé Charef

Canadian author David Smart deconstructs the lives of the great climbers of the twentieth century in order to trace the history of world climbing. Alongside Paul Preuss, Emilio Comici and, most recently, Royal Robbins, he traces the rise to prominence of Yosemite, the big wall and solo climbing. We met him during the Banff Film Festival, in Canada, where he was awarded the prize for climbing literature.

Jury of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival‘s 2023 Book Competition, Jennifer Lowe-Anker says of David Smart’s latest book, Royal Robbins, the American climber: “It is rare to read an account of a legend that measures up to the individual, capturing visionary character in human and place with clear insight to an era. David Smart gives us an evocative, intimate view of Royal Robbins, the man, his exceptional position in the history of American climbing and his vast resume of classic and timeless ascents.”

Canadian author David Smart paints portraits of climbing figures, taking the time to place each one in personal and historical context. Paul Preuss and the early 20th century, Emilio Comici and Italy in the 1930s, Royal Robbins and his unstable childhood – all found in climbing a life-saving activity. A climber “for 46 years already !“, a lover of the Dolomites and attached to his native Canadian Rockies, David Smart tells us more about these forerunners of climbing.

Royal Robbins, the american climber, par David Smart.

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