3/27/12 - Two teams of climbers have won 2012 Piolets d'Or for ascents in the Karakoram of India and Pakistan last year. Americans Mark Richey, Steve Swenson, and Freddie Wilkinson took home golden ice axes in celebration of their first ascent of Saser Kangri II (7,518m) in far northwestern India, via its 1,700-meter southwest face. Young Slovenian alpinists Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar won their awards for the first ascent of the northwest face of K7 West (6,615m) in Pakistan. Both ascents were completed in lightweight alpine style.
The Piolets d'Or jury, led by former Climbing editor and current Alpinist editor Michael Kennedy, also gave a special mention to the new route Venas Azules on the south face of Torre Egger in Patagonia, climbed in December by Norwegians Ole Lied and Bjorn-Eivind Aartun, who was later killed in an accident at home in Norway.
The Piolets d'Or festival is held each spring in Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy. Other nominees this year included Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk, for the direct route up Meru Shark's Fin in India; Gennady Durov and Denis Urubko, for a new route on Peak Pobeda in Kyrgyzstan; and Slovenians Ales Holc, Peter Juvan, and Igor Kremser for the first ascent of Xuelian Northeast in China. The festival also presented a lifetime achievement award to French alpinist Robert Paragot.
Date of event: March 21-24, 2012