Golden Piton Awards

For more than a decade, Climbing magazine has selected each year's most impressive climbing achievements, from bouldering to big walls, and honored these climbers with the annual Golden Piton Awards. Here you can read the stories and see the photos of these inspirational ascents. Plus, you'll find stories of climbers who inspire in other ways, including humanitarian work around the globe.
  • Golden Piton Awards 2013

    From the first 5.14d onsight to runout 5.13 traditional routes to a multitude of V-hard bouldering flashes, Climbing pays tribute to the most inspirational climbers, ascents, and routes of 2013 with the 12th annual Golden Piton Awards.

  • David-Lama-Cerro-Torre-Feat

    2012 Golden Piton Awards: The Year in Climbing

    With Climbing magazine's 11th annual Golden Piton Awards, we celebrate the biggest, hardest, fastest, and scariest ascents of 2012. Prepare to be inspired. Winners include The American Alpine Club, Cameron Hörst, Brooke Raboutou, Ashima Shiraishi, Alex Honnold, Kyle Dempster, Hayden Kennedy, Sean McColl, Adam Ondra, Tomoko Ogawa, and the Red River Gorge, Kentucky.

  • The view from Gasherbrum II. Photo by Cory Richards

    2012 Golden Piton Awards

    On frozen Karakoram peaks, fierce alpine faces, and crags around the world, climbers killed it last year. Here, Climbing presents the 10th annual Golden Piton Awards for top performances in six disciplines: mountaineering, big wall, traditional climbing, crack climbing, sport climbing, and breakaway success.

  • 2010 Golden Piton Awards

    2010 Golden Piton Awards

    Hardest, highest, fastest, best--it's human nature to submit our "ests" to the test. Is it an ego thing? A crude exercise in nationalism? A magazine scam for commercial interests? You could play it that way. But how boring. And futile. In the end, we appraise others' achievements and compare them to our own weekend-warrior world for one reason: to be inspired.

  • 2009 Golden Piton Awards

    2009 Golden Piton Awards

    2009 has been a year of hardship and strife. It would be foolish to ignore the fact that the "recession" (OK, full-blown depression) continues. Still, climbers will climb, and it's nice to see that -- at least on the rocks and in the hills -- the movement hasn't been retrograde. In fact, it's been a damn good year for climbing.

  • 2008 Golden Piton Awards

    2008 Golden Piton Awards

    Climbing magazine presents its annual Golden Piton Awards for the top climbers in bouldering, sport climbing, competition climbing, alpine climbing, and more.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Big-Wall Free Climbing

    Tommy Caldwell’'s incredibly sustained Dihedral Wall on El Capitan stands as the hardest long free line in the universe—the biggest tick in an outstanding year for big-wall free climbing.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Service

    2004 Golden Piton Awards: Service

    When Sean Patrick was told she had four to six weeks to live due to ovarian cancer, her climbing friends distracted her by helping plan a little climbing-based project called HERA: Health, Empowerment, Research, and Advocacy.

  • Golden Piton Award: Mixed Climbing (2003)

    Golden Piton Award: Mixed Climbing (2003)

    Ines Papert of Germany set a new standard for women’s mixed climbing in 2003 when she repeated Mission Impossible (M11), near Courmayeur, Italy, a route that just two years earlier was thought to be the hardest in the world.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Crack Climbing

    Our vote for best effort of the year goes to Dean Potter and Steph Davis, for Epitaph, a 450-foot route on the Tombstone, near Moab, Utah.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Lifetime Achievement

    While a list of revered, veteran North American climbers is long, the roll of those who’ve reached true iconic status is short. Near the top of that brief list is Fred Beckey.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Solo Climbing

    2004 Golden Piton Awards: Solo Climbing

    Steve House climbed in pure alpine style on a nearly 7000-meter peak that had been climbed only once before, in 1984, by a Japanese team that placed thousands of feet of fixed rope and 450 bolts or pins.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Service

    Peter Metcalf, and the OIA membership that supported him, changed the face of negotiations involving primitive recreation on public lands, showing that leaving wild lands wild is green in more ways than one.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Sport Climbing

    2003 Golden Piton Awards: Sport Climbing

    The one 5.15a from 2003 that meets all criteria is the extension to La Rambla (8c+, 5.14c) at Siurana, Spain. It has loomed over aspirants at Siurana, one of Europe’s mega-crags, since Alex Huber climbed it in 1994.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Big-Wall Free Climbing

    2003 Golden Piton Awards: Big-Wall Free Climbing

    Despite exploration, runouts, and the wide spectrum of big, high-standard free climbing, the climb of the year was surely completed right here in the States, on El Capitan; Zodiac, the wall's most famous and emblematic nail-up, went free at 5.13d, thanks to the efforts of Alexander and Thomas Huber.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Alpine Rock

    2004 Golden Piton Awards: Alpine Rock

    Looking down between his legs at 7000 feet of vertical relief, Josh Wharton could hardly believe the predicament into which he’d climbed himself on Pakistan's Great Trango Tower. His last protection was an equalized birdbeak and knifeblade 30 feet below.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Sport Climbing

    Our golden piton goes to Beth Rodden for her October first ascent of The Optimist at Smith Rock, Oregon: the first 5.14b first ascent by an American woman.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Mountaineering

    2003 Golden Piton Awards: Mountaineering

    Balancing style, stature, and purity of line, our vote for high-altitude climb of the season goes to the alpine-style ascent of the north buttress of Nuptse (7861 meters) by the Benegas twins Willie and Damien.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Alpine Ice

    Our award for best full-conditions alpine climb of 2004 goes to Ben Gilmore and Kevin Mahoney for Arctic Rage on the east face of the Moose’s Tooth in the Ruth Gorge.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards: Bouldering

    Dai Koyamada's Wheel of Life in the Rave Cave in Australia's Grampians is a near-100-foot line that combines several double-digit roof problems, classics by Klem Loskot and Fred Nicole, into one megajourney that was just begging to be linked.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards: Bouldering

    2003 Golden Piton Awards: Bouldering

    The Golden Piton for bouldering in 2003 goes to Jason Kehl, for his unroped, crash-padded, highball ascent of Dave Graham’s two-bolt Rumney 5.14d (or V13?), The Fly.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards

    2003 Golden Piton Awards

    Unbelievable is the word most people use to describe Sandrine Levet’s dual victories in both the bouldering and lead climbing events at December’s World Cup. The unprecedented feat is akin to a runner winning both the 100-meter sprint and the mile.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards

    2003 Golden Piton Awards

    The Rockies, Alaska, the Caucasus, Patagonia—alpinists continue to comb the globe finding new lines to suffer for. Still, each year, some of the very best displays of pure alpine mastery occur in the wild-yet-civilized “Yosemite Valley of Alpinism,” the Mont Blanc massif.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards

    2004 Golden Piton Awards

    At Climbing, we have received so many reports on the countless new El Capitan speed records in Yosemite Valley that to be honest, we’re over it. So when Thomas and Alexander Huber flew up Zodiac this past summer, we cheered, because we knew, finally, that we would never again have to report another El Cap speed record.

  • 2004 Golden Piton Awards

    2004 Golden Piton Awards

    For traditional cragging—short, gear-protected rock climbing—2004 was a good year. Gender notwithstanding, our vote for best trad ascent of the year goes hands down to Sonnie Trotter’s repeat of the 5.13d East Face of Monkey Face at Smith Rock. Trotter worked the line on toprope before his lead attempts, generously leaving the ground-up ascent for the next generation.

  • 2003 Golden Piton Awards

    2003 Golden Piton Awards

    The essence of an all-arounder is the ability to cover ground, quickly, efficiently, and with aplomb, regardless of difficulty. Often this can mean rock climbing, mixed climbing, alpine climbing, and altitude, but we think the most impressive all-arounder of 2003 was a rock specialist, Yuji Hirayama.