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with Stefan Nestler

The unwilling Mr. Piolet d’Or

Marko Prezelj

Marko Prezelj

Actually, he finds it nonsense that mountaineers are awarded. “Basically it’s impossible to compare any climbs, because every climb has a different emotion,” Marko Prezelj told me a year ago during the  “Piolet d’Or” celebrations, the “Oscar of the climbers”. “It’s bizarre. It’s like you are making love and making an article out of it. If it’s poetry, maybe it’s okay. But it is a thin line between romantic poetry and pornography.” As in 2015, Marko was again awarded the Golden Ice Axe in 2016. Last weekend, the Slovene received the prize in La Grave in the French Alps, along with his compatriot Urban Novak, the American Hayden Kennedy and the Frenchman Manu Pellissier – for their first ascent of the South Face of the 6176-meter-high Cerro Kishtwar in the Indian Himalayas. Thus Marko is now holding a record that he actually doesn’t want to have.

Festival instead of competition

Successful team on Cerro Kishtwar: Hayden Kennedy, Marko Prezelj, Manu Pellissier, Urban Novak (from l. to r. - along with Wojciech Kurtyka 3. from l.)

Successful team on Cerro Kishtwar: Hayden Kennedy, Marko Prezelj, Manu Pellissier, Urban Novak (from l. to r. – along with Wojciech Kurtyka 3. from l.)

For Prezelj, it was the fourth Piolet d’Or after 1992, 2007 and 2015. No climber was honored more frequently than he. Mountain adventures, says Marko, must have three fundamental elements: “unknown, uncertain, exposure”. This is leading him again and again to exceptional destinations – what has been impressing the different juries, already beginning with the first Piolet d’Or ceremony in 1992. “It’s like an old marriage,”, says Prezelj. “I was the first one and since then I keep a kind of certain distance. I lost a kind of desire to get it. This is the problem why I have a more critical prospective.” Marko’s last year’s message – “Don’t make a competition, make a festival!” – seems to have been heard. With almost the same words, the British jury member Victor Saunders announced this year’s event.

Third Piolet d’Or for Fowler and Ramsden

Mick Fowler (r.) and Paul Ramsden

Mick Fowler (r.) and Paul Ramsden

The nine-member jury, that also included the top climbers Silvo Karo from Slovenia, Valeri Babanov from Russia and Raphael Slawinsky from Canada, chose three other exceptional projects: The British Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden won their third Piolet d’Or, for their first ascent of the 6571-meter- high Gave Ding, a remote mountain in northwestern Nepal. The two Ukrainians Mikhail Fomin and Nikita Balabanov were awarded for their new route via the Northwest Pillar of the 7348-meter-high Talung in Nepal. And finally the American Jerome Sullivan, the Argentinian Diego Simari, and Lise Billon and Antoine Moineville, both from France, received the Golden Ice Axe, for their first ascent of the Northeast Pillar of the 2550-meter-high Cerro Riso Patron in Patagonia.
The lifetime achievement award went to the great Polish climber Wojciech Kurtyka. The now 68-year-old had set climbing milestones, especially in the 1980s with numerous extremely difficult routes on the highest mountains on earth.


20. April 2016 | 14:39