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with Stefan Nestler

Piolets d’Or: Outstanding achievements

Chris Bonington

Chris Bonington

„This award for my live achievements means a lot to me“, said Sir Chris Bonington visibly touched. „It honours not only me but also my peers and fellow mountaineers.“ On Saturday evening in Courmayeur, the 80-year-old British mountaineering legend will be awarded the „Piolet d’Or Career 2015“ for all his outstanding performances as climber and expedition leader that has been inspiring the following generations of extreme mountaineers. The previous evening in Chamonix, Boningtons achievements were presented, by himself and by his former British climbing mates Doug Scott (who got the Piolet d’Or Career in 2011) and Paul „Tut“ Braithwaite.

Real teamwork

Chris Bonington made many first ascents in UK, in the Alps, in Patagonia, in the Himalayas and in Karakoram, such as those of Annapurna II (7,937 m, in 1960) and Nuptse (7,861m, in 1961) in Nepal – or the first ascent of Ogre (7,286 m, in 1977) in Pakistan. His climbing mate then was Doug Scott. „On the last pitch, Doug had to climb a great granit eblock. It was probably the hardest climb that was even done in high mountains“, Bonington remembered. On their way back down Scott fell and broke both ankles. It took them and two other team members, who had climbed up to support them, five days to reach the base camp, by the way without food. „Doug crawled all the way back down“, said Chris. „We survived because we remained together as a team.“

Doug: „I was a lucky man“

Bonington and Scott, earlier and now

Bonington and Scott, earlier and now

Two years ago, in 1975, Bonington had led an successful expedition to the Southwest Face of Mount Everest. Doug Scott and Dougal Haston succeeded in reaching the summit on the first route through the extremely difficult and dangerous wall. „I could not be in better care“, Doug said about Chris, the leader of the expedition. And looking back to all their joint climbs Scott resumed: „I was a lucky man to share those climbs with him.“ Tut Braithwaite, another member of the successful Everest Southwest Face expedition, called Bonington a „great ambassador for what we all do“. Not only in the past, but in the present too.

A traverse and two new routes

Such as the climbers of the three teams that were nominated for this year’s Piolets d’Or, the „Oscar for mountaineers“. Their achievements were also presented during the evening in Chamonix: The Americans Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold (who could not come to France due to other commitments) succeeded in completing the full traverse of the Fitz Roy range in Patagonia, over seven summits with a total of 4,000 meters of ascent, within five days.

The Russians Aleksander Gukov and Aleksey Lonchinsky were chosen for their new route through the South Face of 6,618-meter-high Thamserku in Nepal. They had six bivouacs in the wall during their ascent and another on descent on a different route.

The third team that was nominated for the Piolets d’Or, the Golden Ice Axe, comes from Slovenia: Marko Prezelj, Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic were the first who climbed the steep North Face of 6,657-meter-high Hagshu in Northern India. In 1991, Prezelj and his compatriot Andrej Stremfelj had received the first Piolet d’Or ever, for their climbing of the South Face of the eight-thousander Kangchenjunga in Nepal. Later Prezelj had criticized those responsible for the Piolet d’Or. And he is still sceptical: „I think it’s impossible to judge love and passion in the mountains“, the 50-year-old said in Chamonix.


11. April 2015 | 1:27