The Piolet d'Or 2008 has been cancelled. The award has been in turmoil since the public denunciation from Marko Prezelj and others in 2007. Many top level Alpinists have spoken out against the ethos of the award, stating that it goes against the spirit of climbing to judge one ascent above all others.
The Groupe de Haute Montagne (GHM) and Montagnes Magazine have been issuing the Golden Ice-axe annually since 1991. Problems arose in 2005 regarding the choice of the winning Russian team, led by Alexander Odintsov. The Russians conquered the huge North face of Jannu (7710m). Whilst their achievement was certainly significant, the fact that they were chosen as winners of the Piolet d'Or was openly criticised as many top level Alpinists felt that the fixed-rope and siege tactics that the team employed were at odds with the general ethos of the award. The Russians abandoned most of their camps and equipment, including seventy-seven fixed ropes, leaving them on the mountain.
Due to the general ill-feeling and lack of momentum behind the award, the organisers have now changed the judging criteria and hope to win back the favour of the mountaineering public. The Piolet d'Or will hopefully be back in full swing in 2009, after all those involved have been given the chance to help re-shape the award and its criteria.
To read the new criteria of the Piolet d'Or and commentary from former nominee Kenton Cool View the full UKC Feature Here