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with Stefan Nestler

Piolets d’Or: And the winners are … all!

The winners: Bonington, Cesen, (Doug Scott), Prezelj, Lindic, Lonchinsky, Caldwell, Gukov (f.l.)

The winners: Bonington, Cesen, (Doug Scott), Prezelj, Lindic, Lonchinsky, Caldwell, Gukov (f.l.)

It was not surprising any more. All three teams that had been nominated for this year’s Piolets d’Or were finally awarded the Golden Ice Axes. The US climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold got it for their full traverse of the Fitz Roy range in Patagonia, the Russians Aleksander Gukov and Aleksey Lonchinsky for their new route through the South Face of the 6,618-meter-high Thamserku in Nepal and the Slovenes Marko Prezelj, Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic, because they had opened up a route via the North Face of the 6,657-meter-high Hagshu in Northern India.No doubt, three amazing climbs worth to be cherished.

No more frustration

Atmospheric celebration

Atmospheric celebration

There had been some indications for this result. The former Piolets d’Or „jury“ had been named „technical commitee“ now. It consisted of nine top class climbers from nine different countries, one of them the German Ines Papert. The other members were Hervé Barmasse (from Italy), Kazuki Amano (Japan), Valeri Babanov (Russia), Stephane Benoist (France), Andy Houseman (United Kingdom), Michael Kennedy (United States), Raphael Slawinsky (Canada) and Andrej Stremfelj (Slovenia). They had chosen the three ascents out of a big list of 58 outstanding climbs worldwide. Last year there had been anger and frustration of those teams that had been nominated but had not got the award at the end. That should be prevented this time.

Progressive alpinism

We want to promote alpinism ethics and to present the many several disciplines of alpinism“, Lindsay Griffin, president of the British Alpine Club and one of the persons responsible for the Piolets d’Or, said before the awarding in Courmayeur on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. „We want to celebrate climbs, not to discriminate any ascent.“ The three climbs that were awarded with the Piolets d’Or 2015 do in the words of the jury „represent modern, committing and technical alpine style climbing. They epitomize progressive alpinism and should be celebrated as such“.

A rose for the passion

Doug Scott (l.) hands over the Piolet d'Or to his old climbing mate Chris Bonington

Doug Scott (l.) hands over the Piolet d’Or to his old climbing mate Chris Bonington

Sir Chris Bonington, who was awarded the Career Piolet d’Or for his outstanding live achievements in the mountains, appreciated the performances of the young climbers. „The three teams we are celebrating today, they are tackling steep alpine mountain faces in the Himalayas, at altitude, in alpine style“, the 80-year-old Briton said in Courmayeur. „But they are doing it in the purest way. And therefore alpinism is most certainly not dead.“

After they all had got their Golden Ice Axes, the honoured Slovene Marco Prezelj left the stage and returned with roses for the awarded climbers. „The rose stands for the passion for climbing“, the 50-year-old told me afterwards. Marco, who has won the award three times now, remains sceptical. „The Piolet d’Or is only made of plastic“, said Marko with a big smile. 


12. April 2015 | 1:56