2014 Golden Piton Awards: Ice

Our thirteenth annual year in climbing

Photo: Fredrik Marmsater

Winner: Will Mayo

Forty-two-year-old Will Mayo has long been making headlines for his high-end ice and mixed routes, first in the Adirondacks of New York and more recently in Colorado, where he moved in 2009. But no matter what style you consider—sport, trad, alpine, or comp—2014 was an exceptional year.

Mayo was one of only three competitors—and the sole American—to flash the comp route at the Ouray Ice Festival. In February, he redpointed The Mustang, the hardest of four desperate dry-tooling routes he established behind The Fang at East Vail, Colorado. At M14-, with a 30-meter horizontal roof traverse, The Mustang is now one of America’s hardest sport-mixed routes.

In May, Josh Wharton and Mayo flew to Alaska with Mayo at the controls of his single-engine private plane. Leaving Colorado just after midnight, they were in Talkeetna 19 hours later. The very next day they were dropped off on the glacier below Mt. Huntington, and the day after that they climbed a new ice route up the West Face, Scorched Earth (AI6 M7), in less than 12 hours to the summit.

Mayo made a trip to Switzerland in March with Ben Collett and onsighted the traditionally protected M10 route The Flying Circus. When early-season ice appeared in the mountains of Colorado in October, he and Collett climbed two very hard new routes on the Black Wall, near Mt. Evans, with overhanging rock and thin WI6/7 ice, all above 13,000 feet.

This summer he’s raising his ambition even higher, planning an expedition to an unclimbed wall in the Karakoram, with his Colorado ice buddies Wharton and Stanislav Vrba. 

Two Questions With Wall Mayo

Will Mayo Golden Pitons
Photo: Fredrik Marmsater

What climber impresses you most?
My mentor Jeff Lowe has been my greatest inspiration and influence. Jeff revolutionized winter climbing, and the grace with which he has coped with his degenerative disease transcends climbing.

Favorite post-send treat?
Four-shot mocha, light on the mocha. I am an espresso junkie.

See more 2014 Golden Pitons winners: