Piolets d'Or - 6 winners

Piolets d'Or

The Piolets d'Or jury has decided that all 6 of the teams nominated for this year's Piolets d'Or mountaineering award are winners. The jury of four climbers, headed by jury President Stephen Venables, says it would be invidious to separate the teams. Their decision was announced at a presentation this evening (Friday 5 April) in Courmayeur, at the foot of Mont Blanc.

The 6 winning climbs - all in the Himalaya and Karkoram mountains - are the south pillar of Kyashar (Nepal), climbed by Tatsuya Aoki, Yasuhiro Hanatani and Hiroyoshi Manome; the prow of Shiva (India) climbed by Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden; the northeast spur of Muztagh Tower (Pakistan), climbed by Dmitry Golovchenko, Alexander Lange and Sergey Nilov; the southeast ridge and south face of Ogre I (Pakistan), climbed by Hayden Kennedy and Kyle Dempster; the southwest face of Kamet (India), climbed by Sébastien Bohin, Didier Jourdain, Sébastien Moatti and Sébastien Ratel; and the Mazeno ridge of Nanga Parbat (Pakistan), climbed by Sandy Allan and Rick Allen.

The Pinnacles, Mazeno Ridge, Nanga Parbat
Kyashar, the Nima line
Kamet, South-West Face
Muztagh Tower, northeast buttress
Ogre I, south face

"Prizes are silly," I said in an earlier blog post. Perhaps the Piolets d'Or jury agrees. But I added: "a prize that shines some light into neglected crannies of mountaineering creativity is a useful sort of silliness." It remains to be seen whether the light will shine brightly from the Piolets d'Or if other juries take the same line in years to come. Picking a winner is silly - but it's fun and exciting and grabs people's interest.

Besides choosing the six winners,  this year's Piolets d'Or jury has given a lifetime achievement award to Austrian mountaineer Kurt Diemberger, and has made special mention of two climbs on Cerro Torre, in Patagonia.

The members of this year's Piolet's d'Or jury are:  Stephen Venables (UK), Silvo Karo (Slovenia), Katsutaka Yokoyama (Japan) and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (Austria).

This article was written on the evening of 5 April, shortly after the jury's decision had been tweeted from the Piolets d'Or presentation in Courmayeur.  Journalists at the presentation had been told of the decision an hour or so earlier, but the news was embargoed until 11pm. The Piolets d'Or organisation issued the following statement on the morning of 6 April:

"The Piolets d'Or are a celebration of the most ambitious, creative, aesthetic, bold and adventurous mountain climbs of the year.

In 2009 the Piolet d'Or became the Piolets d'Or, plural, making it possible to give multiple awards, including a career/lifetime achievement award, thus embracing the essential diversity of Alpinism. The charter was also clarified, with the deliberate intention of promoting the alpine-style ideal.

2012 was an exceptional year for groundbreaking ascents which reflected the values of the Piolets d'Or. The jury struggled to reduce that list to six, but those that were eventually chosen are truely outstanding.

Whether a new route at 6000 metres or the longest ridge on an 8000 metre peak, whether a famous iconic mountain or a remote discovery, all six ascents had one factor in common- they went over the summit, committed to a different descent, and each climb in its own way was sustained at a very high level of difficulty.

In light of the very high level of the six ascents, the 2013 Jury chaired by Stephen Venables has decided to award each of the six nominated ascents a "Piolets d'Or", indicating a possible way forward towards more emphasis on diversity.

Moreover, by making a "Special Mention" of two "by fair means" ascents of Cerro Torre, the jury has put a particular focus on the importance of style and legacy, promoting respect for future generations and a "leave no trace" ethic."