Annapurna, K6 West Win Piolets d'Or

Recipients of 2014 Piolets d'Or: Ueli Steck, Ian Welsted, and Raphael Slawinski (left to right).

Recipients of 2014 Piolets d'Or: Ueli Steck, Ian Welsted, and Raphael Slawinski (left to right). Jury president George Lowe applauds. Courtesy of Courmayeur MontBlanc.

3/29/14 - Ueli Steck (Switzerland), Raphael Slawinski, and Ian Welsted (both Canada) were awarded with Piolets d'Or—the Golden Ice Axe—for their climbs in 2013, in a ceremony in Courmayeur, Italy, on Saturday night. The awards cap a four-day celebration of alpinism that took place in Courmayeur and under the tunnel on the other side of Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France. Last night in Chamonix, John Roskelley became the first American to receive a Piolet d'Or for lifetime achievement.

Steck's new route on the south face of Annapurna is destined to be remembered as one of the milestones of modern alpinism. The Swiss climber soloed the 8,000-foot wall in a 28-hour round trip, downclimbing most of the route.

Slawinski and Welsted completed the first ascent of K6 West (7,040 meters) in Pakistan in a five-day alpine-style ascent. This was the third time the two had attempted major new routes in the Karakoram, and after coming up short before, the third time was the charm.

These two climbs were among five nominated for the 22nd annual Piolets d'Or. The three others were:

• New route on Mt. Laurens (3,052 meters) in Alaska by Americans Mark Allen and Graham Zimmerman. • New route on Talung (7,439 meters) in Nepal by the Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hruby. • First ascent of Kunyang Chhish East in Pakistan by brothers Hansjörg and Mathias Auer from Austria and Simon Anthamatten of Switzerland.

In addition, the French climbers Stéphane Benoist and Yannick Graziani received a special jury mention for their alpine-style repeat of the Steck route on Annapurna, shortly after Steck's first ascent.

The finalists and award winners in the 22nd Piolets d'Or were selected from dozens of candidates by a six-member international jury, chaired by the American climber George Lowe.

Last year, in a controversial decision, the jury awarded all six nominated climbs with a Piolet d'Or.