/ NEWS: Marko Prezelj Rejects Top Alpinism Award

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Michael Ryan - on 28 Feb 2007
Dissent has been growing in the world of alpinism against the annual Piolet d'Or award. The latest is this years winner Marko Prezelj.

Full report at's news page..
Bag on 28 Feb 2007 -
In reply to Mick Ryan -

Why are these nominees being so po-faced about the whole thing? Of course these things are subjective- when hasn't there been fierce argument about the Booker or Nobel prizes? Even prizes for science aren't "scientific" in the final choice.
Surely one can gracefully accept the vote of pretty clued-up peers & enjoy the "controversy" with a smile? If a "wrong" choice has been made then the debate on styles & ethics should be a healthy thing, generating some interesting debate, just as it always does with,say, the Booker.
There's no way anyone climbing at this level is doing these things with the thought of prizes at the forefront (or even at the back, I imagine) of their minds, as what possible gain is there? Certainly no significant financial benefit, just the pleasant glow of the acknowledgement of peers.
Can't they enjoy what is supposed to be a celebration of what they love with less of the ego-angst, and have a laugh at the absurdity of it all?
JoeL 90 - on 28 Feb 2007
In reply to Bag: I think (from reading the article) they simply don't like being the judgements of them people make beacuse of the award. Also it is a stupid award, it trys to quantify the happiness gained from the ascents of these routes and try to say how good they are. As every climber of any sort knows happiness doesn't come neccaserily from climbing your hardest route, nor do you climb to be better than others and for someone to say you are better than someone else certainly wouldn't be what most climbers would seek and wouldn't want to be associated with.
Bag on 28 Feb 2007 -
In reply to JoeL 90: Hi Joe, the thing is I don't think anyone seriously thinks the award is anything other than a celebration of cutting edge alpinism from all the nominees, and the idea that the "winner" should take the thought away that they're "this years best" should be seen by them as sort of a joke, but a well-intentioned one. It's just the ridiculous high seriousness that everyone seems to invest this prize with that seems strange to me, when the nominees could just as easily (as Ian Parnell & Jules Cartwright did) choose to bring to the whole thing some element of fun & celebration, and laugh at the notion of "best" while also accepting the affair as a genuine celebration of some pretty good climbs.
Alison Stockwell - on 28 Feb 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan -

FFS, it's just a nice gesture. Why do people have to get so intense about these things? Awards are for the audience; like weddings. The recipient should just smile and be gracious. It's intended as a compliment so why can't they just take it that way and avoid appearing brattish.
Henry L Buckle - on 01 Mar 2007
I don't see it as being an attempt to measure a climb's merit objectively.

Prizes are good. People saying 'well done' is good. Why can't it be interpreted as a group of experienced mountaineers saying "we liked your effort, here's a present to show our respect"?
ukb & bmc shark - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to Alison Stockwell:
> and avoid appearing brattish.

I don't know alpinism from a hole in the ground but regarding appearances his stand against institutionalised hype smacks of integrity rather than brattishness.

fish08 on 01 Mar 2007 -
In reply to Simon Lee: Seconded. He makes some excellent points.
Paz - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to fish08:

how much money did he turn down?
fish08 on 01 Mar 2007 -
In reply to Paz: *shrugs* He made little reference to monetary gain. It is a question of respect.
James Moyle - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to Bag: I totally agree with Bag. The prize is a celebration of all that is great about alpinism. I think that certain people simply turn these types of things down not on principle, but because it is cool to be seen to be anti-establishment. I feel this is a fairly adolescent characteristic that indicates insecurity - but that's just an opinion.
Paz - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to fish08:

If there were money then you'd be thinking how long you can go climbing for with it. So to turn all that down as well would lend his statement some gravity.

Didn't some Russian mathematician recently turn down a lucrative prize?

Even with no doh, the kitted up climber might also think `I can use this to get sponsors to pay for my trips' but if it's just an award then this is far more of a gesture, as is the award itself.
JoeL 90 - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to Bag: I see your point. But I can see why some climbers wouldn't like to be associated with it because its a joke (trying to assess who had the best experience). Its kinda like indoor climbing comps noone really takes them seriously, there just a fun thing to do over the winter (when scotlands not in condition) but some climbers for moral reasons dont participate. Similarly I think these brilliant alpinists who turn it down for moral reasons, deserve the upmost respect. Especially Rolando Garibotti as his morals seem to have been with him throught his climbing and certainly didn't reject the award for the very small amount of attention it gave him.
Michael Ryan - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to JoeL 90:
> (In reply to Bag) I see your point. But I can see why some climbers wouldn't like to be associated with it because its a joke (trying to assess who had the best experience).

"The criteria for this award includes alpine climbs that involve high technical difficulty and commitment, originality in the choice of the objective, pure lightweight style and respect for the mountains. The award is chosen by a jury consisting of the editors of Montagnes magazine and this year included Italian Vinicio Stefanello, journalist with; Korean Im Duck Yong, journalist and founder of the Asian edition of Piolet d'Or; Swiss Michel Piola, Piolet d'Or in 1992 for a new route on Torres del Paine; French Christian Trommsdorff, nominated last year for a traverse on Chomo Lonzo; and Russian Yuri Koshelenko, awarded in 2003 for the opening of Nuptse East's south pillar with Valery Babanov; and last years award Americans Vince Anderson and Steve House (Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat)."
JoeL 90 - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - Yeh but basically you climb hard (relative to how good you are) to get the most enjoyment. It helps to do it in the best style to ensure further satisfaction. these simply add up to a good experience, i dont think alpinist do a route because it will be ED2, M8, 5C, WI6, A5 or how ever you go about grading such things, just becasue they know this will be the best.

it is a joke as it trys to quantify the experience gained from the climb and also it goes about doing it in a big ceromany which is no doubt good fun but pointless.

The reward of climbing any route is a personal thing or shared with whoever your climbing with.
Pinky on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to James Moyle:
It depends, if it was done like the Nobel peace price (a pat on the back for good work done), then he should not have turned it down. But I can see if it was more like sports man/woman of the year where there are winners and LOOSERS, then I can see where he is comeing from.
Michael Ryan - on 01 Mar 2007
In reply to JoeL 90:

I was just pointing out some of the criteria they use to award this prize.

Know one can judge anothers alpine experience, that would be foolish.

What they look at is:

  • technical difficulty
  • commitment
  • originality in the choice of the objective
  • pure lightweight style
  • respect for the mountains

    And those doing the judging are mostly alpinists, including past recipients of the award.

    We all love lists and ranking things, and also giving recognition to human achievement (and slagging others off). This is what this award is about I think. Not perfect, not absolute, not black and white.

    Marko Prezelj and Parnell, and others make strong arguments against such awards.

  • Bag on 03 Mar 2007 -
    In reply to JoeL 90: Having read Marko's article again, I see where he & Rolo Garibotti are coming from on this subject. Only someone who's actually experienced the event could comment on the atmosphere generated, and from what he says it does sound to be a bit of a hyped-up nightmare.
    His ideas on a "Gathering & Celebration" with stories, photos & tall-tales etc. does sound far healthier & a lot more fun.
    On reflection I agree the idea of placing climbers in this embarassing, cheesy situation would make you cringe, so I definitely do a U-turn on my first posting!

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