Piolet d’Or for living legend Chris Bonington
No doubt, he fully deserves this honour. When the most remarkable ascents in 2014 will be awarded with the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar” for mountaineers, in Chamonix and Courmayeur from 9 to 12 April, Sir Chris Bonington will be hounoured with the “Prix Walter Bonatti” for his really outstanding mountaineering career. The prize is awared for the seventh time. The previous prizewinners from 2009 onwards were Walter Bonatti, Reinhold Messner, Doug Scott, Robert Paragot, Kurt Diemberger and John Roskelley. “Chris Boningtons achievements have been significant in both the Alps and Himalaya”, the organizers of Piolet d’Or said. “An outstanding and passionate climber.”
Last year Bonington celebrated his 80th birthday by repeating one of his own famous climbs, the Old Man of Hoy, a spectacular sea stack in the Orkney islands, which he had first climbed in 1966. Later he did a great number of historic climbs like the first ascents of Annapurna II in 1960, of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc in 1961 and of the 7285-meter-high Ogre in the Karakoram together with Doug Scott in 1977 (the second ascent followed only in 2001). Bonington also proved to be a great expedition leader. In 1970 he led the successful expedition to the South Face of Annapurna, in 1975 the expedition to Mount Everest, during which Doug Scott and Dougal Haston climbed the Southwest Face first. Bonington himself reached the summit of Everest in 1985 as a member of a Norwegian expedition. He was knighted by the Queen in 1996 for his services to the sport. A living legend!
“Everest no longer a place for pionieers”
Most recently I met Chris Bonington in 2013, at the diamond jubilee celebration of the first ascent of Mount Everest in the Royal Geographical Society in London and asked him – of course – about his thoughts on Everest. “It’s not a give-away, it’s still a tough game for those individuals, 2000 people at basecamp, 200 people going up the Lhotse face, 100 people going to the summit in a day aligned on a fix rope put up by the Sherpas. That’s something that happens”, Sir Chris answered. “Everest, if you like, is no longer a place for the pioneers. The pioneers have gone elsewhere.”
When we made the first ascent of the 7129-meter-high Kokodak Dome in the Kongur Range in western China half a year ago, I thought of Bonington. In 1981, he and the famous British climbers Al Rouse, Peter Boardman und Joe Tasker had scaled the 7719-meter-high Kongur Tagh for the first time. It is the highest mountain in the range, much more difficult than “our” Kokadak Dome.
Date27. January 2015 | 11:58