Next May, at the heart of the Himalayan season, the Everest base camp will host no fewer than 58 expeditions just for the Nepalese side, that is to say approximately 600 climbers.
In 2008, 422 successful ascents have been listed on the only permitted way (Nepal) and it is a record.
In 2007, they were 627 to reach the summit following both ways up.
These figures show the passion for the Himalayas and its mythical routes. Fuel for the debates of the 17th Piolets d'Or.
As in the Alps, the appeal of some summits generates new debates: overcrowding, fixed ropes, usage of excessive technological means. The Piolets d'Or take an interest in all the different aspects of mountaineering. They also give priority to pure mountaineering, celebrating innovation, a sense of partnership and solidarity, and rewarding the beauty of an individual or collective achievement.
During four days of random meetings in cafes or at the bottom of cliffs, the participants discovered a shared spirit of an international mountaineering that preserves exchanges, partnership and style.
In addition to an awards ceremony, the Piolets d’Or celebrate a passion for pure and ethical mountaineering.
Amongst the 57 expeditions achieved in 2008, the 6 nominated expeditions meet these standards.
The members of the jury, under the presidency of the English mountaineer Doug Scott, and the organisers also follow this objective: "It is not a question of reaching success at all costs, by using financial or technical means (such as oxygen, fixed ropes, Sherpas, doping products etc…). What counts is the style. Today even if the summit hasn’t been reached, the expedition can be honoured if it is innovative,” says Peter Habeler, member of the jury and 1st man to have reached Mt. Everest without oxygen, with Reinhold Messner in 1978.
It is a return to the roots that seduces the young generation, just as Walter Bonatti always gave priority to true adventure with minimum help. The 79-year-old Italian remains the absolute reference in the world of mountaineering.
By awarding Walter Bonatti with the first career Piolet d’Or in Courmayeur, the mountaineering world has honoured the whole Mont Blanc range, the Italians’ favourite place. But above all an exceptional career and a man of belief. The images and words in Courmayeur echoed in a full auditorium, full of emotions.
Walter just pronounced a few words: “Do not forget that solitude (solo climbing) develops sensitivity and our emotions.”
Saturday 25th of April
In the morning, each nominated team presented their ascent to the jury clarifying all the criteria presented in the new charter of the Piolets d’Or. Then the jury got together in order to discuss and summarize their opinions. The members must award one or several Piolets d’or by general approval or through a vote. This year no vote was needed. The jury was unanimous.
Three Piolets d’Or were awarded this year because each ascent had unique and exciting characteristics: Spirit of exploration, commitment and technical difficulty.
Spirit of exploration: First ascent of the South-West face of Kamet (7756m, India).
Kazuya Hiraide and Kei Taniguchi completed the first ascent of the Southeast face of Kamet in alpine style, between 26th September and 7th October 2008. They were the first climbers to set foot on this face and they completed the climb on their first attempt. Kei Taniguchi is the first woman to win a Piolet d’Or.
Name of Route : Samurai Direct.
Height of Climb: 1800m.
Difficulties declared: mixed M5+, ice 5+.
Commitment: New route on the North face of Kalanka (6931m, India).
In September 2008, the Japanese Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato and Kazuki Amano achieved a new route on the North face of Kalanka in alpine style, which had never been ascended in one go. Two-thirds of the way up the face, they were trapped for three days by a snowstorm. Instead of descending after the storm, they continued to the summit.
Height of Route: 1800m.
Difficulty declared: mixed M5.
Technical difficulty: First Ascent of the North face of Tengkampoche (6500m, Nepal).
The Swiss Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten, climbing alpine style, made the first ascent of the North face of Tengkampoche, between 21st and 24th April 2008. They found the most difficult and extreme passages climbed anywhere at high altitude in 2008.
Name of Route : Checkmate.
Height of Climb : 2000m.
Difficulties declared : mixed M7, ice 5, rock 6/A0.
“This edition signs the rebirth of the Piolets d’or. For us there are no winners, no loosers. The honored are the ambassadors of an art, a passion.” Doug Scott.
In total accordance with the spirit of the Piolets d’Or, the Alpine Club has created the "Spirit of mountainering". Awarded in recognition for a group of mountaineers who have diverted their way to save a life. In May 2008, on the slopes of Mt. Annapurna, Inaki Ochoa de Olza (ROU) suffered from a stroke and then from a pulmonary oedema. His partner, Horia, very tired was only able to get down thanks to 6 climbers who went back up to help them… Inaki did not survive.Horia Colibasanu (ROU), Ueli Steck (SUI), Simon Anthamatten (SUI), Denis Urubko (UKR), Alexei Bolotov (RUS) and Don Bowie (CAN) are these 6 men.
Find all the information on the website www.pioletsdor.org.
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Claude Marin :
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