Americans Earn Piolet d’Or for Ascent in China

The 2010 Piolet d’Or recipients, from left : Bruce Normand, Boris Dedeshko, Kyle Dempster, Denis Urubko, and Jed Brown, along with jury member Robert Schauer. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

Reinhold Messner (right), recipient of a Piolet d’Or for lifetime achievement, celebrates with Walter Bonatti, winner of the 2009 career Piolet d’Or. Photo by Pascal Tournaire

The American-Scottish team of Jed Brown, Kyle Dempster, and Bruce Normand, along with Kazakh climbers Boris Dedeshko and Denis Urubko, have received 2010 Piolets d’Or for climbs they completed last year. Brown, Dempster, and Normand were honored for the first ascent of the north face of Xuelian West (6,422m/21,070'). The three men, along with American Jared Vilhauer, were among the first climbers to explore the north side of the impressive Xuelian massif in the Chinese Tien Shan. After climbing several virgin faces during acclimatization, they did the first ascent of the 2,650-meter north wall of Xuelian West, with five days of difficult and insecure climbing.

Urubko and Dedeshko got their golden ice axes by climbing a very difficult and direct new route on the 2,600-meter southeast face of Cho Oyu, during a 10-day round trip from base camp in May. For Urubko, the climb was a classy conclusion to his effort to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks.

Three other climbs were nominated for the 18th Piolets d’Or: the first ascent of Peak 6,134m in the Minya Konka massif of China, by Mikhail Mikhailov and Alexander Ruchkin; the first ascent of the north face of Chang Himal, by Britons Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman; and a new route on the north face of Peak Pobeda, by Vitaly Gorelik and Gleb Sokolov. The nominees and the Piolets d’Or recipients were chosen by a jury led by Slovenian Andrej Stremfelj, along with Lindsay Griffin from the United Kingdom, Jordi Corominas from Spain, Anna Piunova from Russia, Robert Schauer from Austria, and Kei Taniguchi from Japan.

Stremfelj, the jury president, said of the two climbs chosen for Piolets d ‘Or, "Today we have decided to showcase two ascents that represent creativity and exploration. Each suggests many possibilities for today’s climbers and for future generations."

Along with the prizes for climbs in 2009, the four-day Piolets d’Or festival in Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy, also included the presentation of a career Piolet d’Or to Reinhold Messner, who said, “The Piolets d’Or defend a classical type of alpinism which is currently disappearing.”

This ceremonies also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Annapurna, the first 8,000-meter peak to be climbed. As the leader of that expedition, Maurice Herzog was a featured guest at the awards presentation in Chamonix.

Dates of Event : April 7-10, 2010


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