Piolets d'Or row - response from jury President Stephen Venables
British climber Stephen Venables, President of the jury responsible for awarding this year's Piolets d'Or mountaineering prize, says he is "appalled" at some of the criticism of the jury's decision. Doug Scott and Kurt Diemberger support his stand.
Manu Riveaud (editor of Montagnes Magazine) and Claude Gardien (Editor of Vertical Magazine) last month announced their resignation from the Piolets d'Or Committee in protest at the decision of this year's Piolets d'Or jury to award the mountaineering prize to all 6 of the climbing teams nominated for it. Jury President Stephen Venables' robust response to their criticism is published in the May issue of Montagne, and is republished below.
Venables says he is "appalled" at some of some of Riveau's public criticisms of the jury, and describes the accusations against the jury as "wild". Doug Scott (with Dougal Haston, jointly the first British person to climb Everest) and veteran Austrian mountaineer Kurt Diemberger have expressed support for the jury's decision. Their messages are published in full below.
Venables says that this year's verdict was "a deliberate decision, agreed unanimously, to suggest what we felt should be the future direction of the event, representing the best traditions of alpinism."
He points out that his three fellow jurors - Silvo Karo, Katsutaka Yokoyama ( 'Jumbo') and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner - are "are amongst the finest mountaineers in the world."
Manu Riveaud has refrained from making any further comment on the jury's decision. So perhaps peace has now broken out and Montagnes Magazine will continue to support the Piolets d'Or event.
The magazine includes a brief statement from Jean-Pierre Roger, Director of Editions Nivéales, publisher of Montagnes and Vertical magazines. The statement, published below, tends to support the suggestion on HimalayaMasala that the row had its origin in Niveales' business strategy.
The four distinguished climbers who made up this year's Piolet d'Or jury were quite entitled to conclude that all the nominated climbs deserved equal recognition. Manu Riveaud was quite entitled to hold a different view, and to say so in the pages of his magazine. But it's a little surprising that he did so in such forceful terms, saying that the jury’s decision was "a snub to who we are and to the history of mountaineering" and was "in contempt of the public and private partners without whom the event would not exist."
The right to get a little carried away goes with the territory for a magazine editor. But the decision of Montagnes and Vertical to withdraw their support from the Piolets d'Or is another matter. It must surely have had more to do with commercial pressures than editorial independence. To put it bluntly, it looks like the exact opposite of editorial independence. It looks like editorial pyrotechnics summoned on the instructions of the editor's boss.
But perhaps, after all, there are some grounds for complaining that people attending the Piolets d'Or presentations were short-changed. It seems from Stephen Venables' statement that the jury members had very little left to do when they arrived in the Mont Blanc valleys for the four-day event. The jury's decision came as a surprise to the nominees and the audience. But in fact, everything had already been decided.
Piolets d'Or 2013 - the winning climbs
Unusually, all 6 of the winning climbs were in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges (just a few of many recent first ascents in the Himalaya). The presentations were held in Chamonix (France) and Courmayeur (Italy), on opposite sides of the Mont Blanc Massif, from 3 to 6 April.