Three Teams Receive Piolets d'Or

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From left: Kazuaki Amano, Yusuke Sato, Kazuye Hiraide, Kei Taniguchi, and Simon Anthamatten. Photo by Pascal Tournaire.

From left: Kazuaki Amano, Yusuke Sato, Kazuye Hiraide, Kei Taniguchi, and Simon Anthamatten. Photo by Pascal Tournaire.

At an award ceremony in Chamonix, France, three climbs from 2008 were honoured with Piolets d’Or for their originality, commitment, and technical difficulty:

  • First ascent of the southeast face of Kamet (7,756 meters) in India, by Kazuya Hiraide and Kei Taniguchi. The two Japanese climbed the 1,800-meter route (M5+ WI5+) over seven days last fall. Taniguchi is the first woman to receive a Piolet d’Or in the event’s 17-year history.

  • First ascent of the complete north face of Kalanka (6,931 meters) in India, by the Japanese Kazuaki Amano, Fumitaka Ichimura, and Yusuke Sato. The three were trapped by a storm two-thirds of the way up the 1,800-meter face for three days, yet managed to continue to the summit and descend safely.

  • First ascent of the north face of Tengkangpoche (6,500 meters) in Nepal, by the Swiss climbers Simon Anthamatten and Ueli Steck. The 2,000-meter route, with extremely difficult climbing (M7+ WI5, and rock climbing up to 5.10) was completed with three bivouacs.

Walter Bonatti receives the Piolet d’Or for lifetime achievement. Photo by Pascal Tournaire.

Walter Bonatti receives the Piolet d’Or for lifetime achievement. Photo by Pascal Tournaire.

All of the routes were completed alpine-style, meeting the criteria set out in a new charter for the revamped Piolets d’Or, emphasizing small teams and minimal tools. In addition, three other ascents nominated by these criteria were feted at the awards ceremony: American Dave Turner’s first ascent on the east face of Cerro Escudo in Patagonia; the French climbers Patrice Glairon-Rappaz and Stephane Benoist’s direct new route on the south face of Nuptse in Nepal; and the Japanese climbers Fumitaka Ichimura, Katsutaka Yokoyama, and Yusuke Sato’s link-up of two huge routes on Denali. The six-member Piolets d’Or jury that examined these climbs included British mountaineer Doug Scott, American Jim Donini, and Austrian Peter Habeler.

The award ceremony concluded four days of events on both sides of Mont Blanc, in Chamonix and Courmayeur, Italy. The great Italian alpinist Walter Bonatti received the first Piolet d’Or for lifetime achievement. And six climbers, including Canadian Don Bowie, received “Spirit of Mountaineering” awards from the Alpine Club in the U.K. for their efforts to save Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa last fall on Annapurna.

Date of Event: April 26, 2009

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