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with Stefan Nestler

Piolet d’Or for two Brits and three Russians

Summit selfie of Ramsden (l.)  and Bullock (r.)

There will be a celebration tonight in Grenoble – with Golden Ice Axes.  In a special ceremony in the town in the French Alps, this year’s winners will receive the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of Mountaineers”. A high-grade jury, including German top climber Thomas Huber, selected two expedition teams for the prestigious award this spring. The two Britons Paul Ramsden and Nick Bullock are honored for their first ascent of the North Face of the 7,046-meter-high Nyainqentangla South East in Tibet. The wall “was almost impossible to describe without using superlatives,” Nick Bullock wrote on his website after the expedition in fall 2016. “It was a dream, it had runnels, ice, fields of snow, arêtes – the face twisted and turned in some warped massive monster Matterhorn way”. Nick called the face a “mouth-puckering 1600 m”. It took Ramsden and Bullock five days to climb the wall.

Ramsden now record winner along with Prezelj

The route of the two Britons

“I suppose its burying your head in the sand but I always think it’s best to think about such a big route just one pitch at a time,” Paul Ramsden later wrote in his expedition report. “Deal with what’s in front of you and worry about the rest later! If you think about the route as a whole it’s just too easy to get intimidated.”

The 48-year-old is awarded the Piolet d’Or for the fourth time, so he joins record winner Marko Prezelj from Slovenia. Paul had received the first three Golden Ice Axes together with Mick Fowler, each for spectacular first ascents on six-thousanders. Nyainqentangla South East was the first seven-thousander Ramsden scaled. For the 52-year-old Nick Bullock it is his first Piolet d’Or. Nick had been nominated for the 2010 award for his first ascent of the North Face of the six-thousander Chang Himal with Andy Houseman, but in the end they had left empty-handed.


Russian route on Thalay Sagar

The other Piolet d’Or 2017 goes to Russia. Dmitry Golovchenko, Dmitry Grigoriev and Sergey Nilov are awarded for their new route through the North Face of the 6,904-meter-high Thalay Sagar in the Indian Himalaya: a direttissima on the North Buttress to the summit. For Golovchenko and Nilov it is the second Golden Ice Axe after 2013, when they were honored for their first ascent of the Northeast Spur on the seven-thousander Muztagh Ata in western China.


8. November 2017 | 15:13