The 2012 Piolets d'Or winners have been announced. From an initial list of 88 routes, the Piolets d'Or jury first selected "6 routes that best illustrate explorative alpinism at a high technical level in minimal style undertaken with consideration for the environment" and then picked out two impressive ascents from that list as the winners.
The Piolets d'Or (French for The Golden Ice Axes) are annual mountaineering awards given by the French magazine Montagnes and The Groupe de Haute Montagne. The awards, despite widespread criticism a few years ago, have become one of the most respected mountaineering awards in the world.
Piolets d'Or 2012 winners Steve Swenson, Freddy Wilkinson, Mark Richey
UKC News, Mar 2012
© Piolets d'Or
A golden ice axe
UKC News, Apr 2011
© Anna Piunova
The 2012 Winners:
K7 West (6,615m), Pakistan
This three-day alpine style ascent of the previously unclimbed north-west face via a 1,600m sustained mixed route was the third ascent of this famous summit in the Charakusa valley. This young team took their experience of climbing in their home mountains of Slovenia on their first trip to the Himalaya, and used exceptional judgement and commitment on this highly technical climb. The route involved a strong element of exploration and was carried out in minimalist style by a team of non-professional climbers. by Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar, Slovenia
Saser Kangri II (7,518m), India
The ascent of Saser Kangri II - the second highest previously unclimbed mountain in the world - is an example of classic exploratory alpinism and committed alpine style climbing at high altitude. The summit was reached via the steep 1,700 metre south-west face after four days of ascent and three bivouacs with the main difficulties concentrated in the upper part of the climb. A wealth of experience enabled the team to take a very minimal lightweight alpine style approach in achieving the first ascent of the peak. by Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson, USA
A third ascent has been given a special mention by the jury.
Torre Egger (2,850m), Argentina
This ascent of Torre Egger achieved a new level for technical ice climbing in an alpine environment. The ephemeral line is a hugely creative and imaginative route, and was only possible due to the team's opportunism. A few days after the climb's nomination, Bjorn-EIvind Aartun was tragically killed in an ice climbing accident in Norway, along with Stein-Ivar Gravdal. Aartun's partner from Torre Egger, Ole Lied, was unable to attend the 2012 Piolets d'Or. The organisers, jury, and the rest of the nominees express their sympathy and support for Ole and the entire Norwegian climbing community. by Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied, Norway
And lastly, the 2012 Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Frenchman Robert Paragot.