Jannu Wins Piolet d'Or

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The Russian expedition that climbed the North Face of Jannu in Nepal has won the Piolet d'Or, the golden ice axe that is awarded annually in France for the top mountaineering ascent of the year. Two American climbs were nominated for this year's prize, which was awarded by a jury headed by the Polish mountaineer Krzysztof Wielicki.The Russian team reached the summit of 25,295-foot Jannu on May 26, 2004, after completing what may be the toughest big-wall climb in history. The North Face of Jannu is an El Cap-sized, vertical and overhanging cliff that rises above 4,500 feet of snow, ice and mixed climbing. The large expedition succeeded despite intense cold and injuries to several climbers, using fixed ropes to rotate teams of climbers to the front. American Steve House, who has criticized the Piolet d'Or for lauding too many non-alpine-style ascents, was nominated for this year's Piolet d'Or for his solo, single-push second ascent of K7 in Pakistan, via a new route. House's climb was named the "People's Choice" at the award ceremony in Grenoble, France. Ben Gilmore and Kevin Mahoney were nominated for their new route Arctic Rage on the East Face of the Moose's Tooth in Alaska. No American has won the Piolet d'Or in its 15-year history.