2010 Piolets d'Or Nominees Announced

by Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC Mar/2010
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+Chang Himal North Face showing the  Houseman/Bullock line with bivy spots marked, 155 kbChang Himal North Face showing the Houseman/Bullock line with bivy spots marked
© Andy Houseman

The 2010 nominees for the controversial Piolets d'Or awards have been announced.

The awards, which were cancelled back in 2008 due to a major backlash from top Alpinists, have been going from strength to strength with a new ethos and format that has appeased climbers.

David Falt, author of the blog E9 Climbing commented:

"For me personally, it's a fun event and a great way to meet friends, socialise and climb. The organizers have tried to take the edge off some of the past emotions by introducing a new format where five or six teams are nominated and more than one award can be given, for example in categories emphasizing "technical difficulty", "commitment" and "exploration".

I guess in theory one team can grab all three awards but this is a highly unlikely scenario. In this year's bag is a nice mix of great achievements, some maybe better than others, some more hyped than others but the key element is that they are all great achievements, illustrating the beauty of the pure alpine challenge and in the age of relentless commercialism, over-hyping of 8000m 'heroes' and even blatant fraudulence to gain entry to this club, the appeal of the alpine ideal should not be allowed to dim."

  • You can read David's full opinion on the Piolets d'Or on his blog.

Info from the Piolets d'Or Website:

The Ascents:

Cho Oyu, 8201 m - Nepal

Kazakhs Denis Urubko and Boris Dedechko opened a new route on the South East Face in May (Nepalese side). With this ascent, Urubko becomes the fifteenth man to have successfully climbed all fourteen 8000ers, and the ninth person to do it without oxygen. At 36 years of age, the Kazakh has taken nine years to accomplish this feat. He did not choose the easy option when opening a new route, alpine-style, on three 8000ers including this one, an ascent which won him a Piolet d'Or Asia.
Name of the route: Kazakh Dedechko-Urubko
Length: 2600m
Difficulty announced: M6, 6b, A2/A3
Date of the ascent: from 11th to 15th May 2009

Chang Himal, 6750 m - Nepal

At the beginning of November, Brits Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman successfully completed a first on the central pillar of the North Face of Chang Himal, not far from Kanchenjunga. The two men took five days to climb this technical route of 1800 metres of mixed difficulty evaluated at M6. The route had previously been attempted without success in 2007 by Slovenian climbers.
Name of the route: Bullock-Houseman
Length: 1800m
Difficulty announced: M6
Date of the ascent: from 29th October to 2nd November 2009

Gongga North-West Peak 6134m - China

The first ascent of this summit, situated in Sichuan province, was successfully completed in May by Russians Mikhail Mikhailov and Alexander Ruchkin. They climbed the 1100 metre rock pillar over five days. It presented mixed difficulty on the lower section and a fabulous free-climb on the upper section. These two alpinists, members of the expedition to the North Face of Jannu in January 2004, specified that they used no bolts to open this route. They were awarded the Russian Piolet d'Or for this ascent.
Name of the route: Carte Blanche
Length: 1100m
Difficulty announced: 6c free climbing, mixed climbing with an ice passage of 75
Date of the ascent: April 2009

Xuelian West, 6422 m China

Over five days, Americans Jed Brown and Kyle Dempster along with Scotsman Bruce Normand completed the North face of the Xuelian West (Chinese Tien Shan). This climb is long, complicated and technically difficult. The summit had never been climbed.
Name of the route: The Great White Jade Heist
Length: 2650m
Difficulty announced: ice 5, rock 5, mixed M6.
Date of the ascent: from 26th to 30th August 2009

Pic Pobeda, 7439m Kirghizstan

At the end of August, Russian climbers Vitaly Gorelik and Gleb Sokolov opened a difficult new route on the North Face of Peak Pobeda, the highest summit in the Tien Shan massif. The two men climbed a difficult 2400 metre buttress alpine-style in seven and a half days, in bad weather conditions, until they reached a minor peak along the long summit. They then took one and a half days to descend. They encountered numerous passages of black ice and delicate zones of mixed terrain which slowed their progress. Sokolov, 56 and Gorelik aged 42 are both experienced Russian alpinists. They were both members of the victorious K2 expedition in 2007.
Name of the route: Sokolov/Gorelik
Length: 2400m
Difficulty announced: ED
Date of the ascent: from 20th to 29th August 2009
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