Two teams of climbers have this year been awarded a Piolet d’Or (golden ice axe) for inspirational ascents in 2010. The annual award takes place in Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy and usually results in one award being given for an alpine climbing achievement. This year is different not only because there are two winners but also because one winning team’s climbing did not involve any alpine climbing.
Yasushi Okada and Katsutaka Yokoyama won their Piolet d’Or for making the first ascent of the southeast face of Mt Logan in Canada. The 2500m high face (ED+ WI5 and M6) was one of the last great unclimbed lines in North America. The second team to win a Piolet d’Or was made up of Ben Ditto (USA), Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, and Sean Villanueva from Belgium. This team climbed nine new big wall routes in Greenland, one taking 10 days and many of them rising straight out of the sea. To achieve this they used a sailboat captained by British sailor Bob Shepton which acted as a mobile base camp for the team’s adventures.
To read more about the awards that were given and why the judges choose to give two awards visit http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web11s/newswire-piolet-dor-2011
Other nominations for the 2011 Piolet d'Or were:
East Face of Mount Edgar (6618m), Minya Konka Range, Sichuan, China.
Bruce Normand (UK) and Kyle Dempster (USA) made the second ascent of this mountain, spending five days climbing the icy East Face (WI5,M6) and South Ridge. To read more about their route visit http://www.climbmagazine.com/normand_dempster_sichuan.aspx
South East Face of Mt Foraker (5304m), Alaska.
Bjorn-Eivind Artun (Nor) and Colin Haley (USA) climbed their route named Dracula which takes a direct line between two pre existing routes in a single push round trip of 71 hours. Difficulties were up to M6R AI4+ and they did not take gear for bivouacs, climbing without a pause. To read more about Dracula visit http://www.climbmagazine.com/dracula_mount_foraker.aspx
The South East Face of Lunag 1 (6830m) Rolwaling Himal, Nepal.
Maxime Belleville, Mathieu Detrie, Mathieu Maynadier and Seb Ratel (France) climbed this route with two bivouacs on the face and a third on the summit. The route involved 1,200m of ice and mixed climbing and was named Close the Door.
The West Face of Vasuki Parbat (6792m), Gangotri Himalaya, India.
Malcolm Bass and Paul Figg (UK) spent nine days on this 1600m high face with sustained mixed climbing up to M6 before reaching the mountain’s summit ridge. From here they descended the North West Ridge.