Brits Feature Heavily at Piolets d'Or 2011

© Satyabata Dam
Following on from the earlier announcement that British climbing legend Doug Scott is to receive an award at the Piolets d'Or 2011 (see UKC News), the jury, presided over by Greg Child, has announced the six expeditions selected for the 19th edition of the Piolets d'Or.

"The jury members this year unanimously identified with the spirit of exploring remote and rugged locations, of pioneering new routes in lightweight style, and in embracing a sense of commitment and teamwork. These are the essential attributes at the heart of the Piolets d'Or, and this is what alpinism is all about. The six climbs that have been nominated by the jury for the award this year are climbs that the jury themselves would be proud to have been a part of." said Greg Child.

Malcolm Bass and Paul Figg  descending the north west ridge after climbing the west face  © Satyabata Dam
Malcolm Bass and Paul Figg descending the north west ridge after climbing the west face
© Satyabata Dam

Bob not hesitating to put his boat on the line for the ascent. Ben and Sean at the first belay.  © Devil's Brew Expedition
Bob not hesitating to put his boat on the line for the ascent. Ben and Sean at the first belay.
© Devil's Brew Expedition
The overall list from which the climbs were chosen was extensive, and shows that the spirit of adventure in climbing lives on in a new generation. The selection was made from 53 first ascents made across 19 countries on 5 continents, with 138 mountaineers of 22 different nationalities. All of the mountaineers will be in Chamonix and Courmayeur from 13th - 16th April to present their routes and expeditions, with the chance of receiving a Piolets d'Or award for one of the most noteworthy alpine style ascents of 2010.


  • 3 200m route on the South East Face of Mount Foraker (5304m), Alaska by Colin Haley (USA) and Bjorn-Eivind Artun (Norway): 71 hours without a bivouac to test the limits of non-stop alpine climbing.
  • 2 500 m route on the South East Face of Mount Logan (5959m), Canada by Yasushi Okada and Katsutaka Yokoyama (Japan): 4 bivouacs.
  • first ascent of the West Face (1600m) of Vasuki Parbat (6792m), India by Malcom Bass and Paul Figg (UK): the second only ascent of the peak, 10 days on the route.
  • first ascent of Lunag 1 South East (c6830m), Rolwaling Himal, Nepal by Max Belleville, Mathieu Détrie, Mathieu Meynadier and Sébastien Ratel (France): 3 bivouacs.
  • first ascent of the East Face (2500m) of Mount Edgar (6618m), Minya Konka Range, Sichuan province by Bruce Normand (UK) and Kyle Dempster (USA): second ascent of this peak with 3 approach days and 5 days on the route.
  • 9 new routes on the big walls on the West & South coasts of Greenland by Sean Villanueva, Nicolas and Olivier Favressse (Belgium) and Ben Ditto (USA): the most committing - Devil's Brew, took 10 days. Most of the routes were started from their basecamp boat captained by Briton Bob Shepton (75 yrs).

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14 Mar, 2011
71 hours... thats genuinely ridiculous. my bets on them or the favresse bros. et al's trip.
14 Mar, 2011
I'm still confused as to what the Piolet d'Or actually does. What does "most noteworthy" mean? does it mean hardest achievement full stop? does it mean hardest and most out there according to the team's abilities? or are we talking about what was the most audacious, i.e.nothing to do with difficulty, rather to do with who put their lives on the line the most? i don't get it. How does a jury, regardless of who and how clued up they are, determine whats harder than another? Colin and Bjorn-Eivind's Foraker ascent, would have taken some people 10 days round trip. But conversely, those guys could have gone and climbed the line on Vasuki Parbat (just an example of course) in a day and a half. If you're going to decide what was the "hardest" alpine style ascent, surely you'd have to analyse all the climbers(teams) abilities, and compare accordingly? I'm not suggesting in the slightest that this should be done!!!!! but unless it is done, its impossible to remotely claim that what you're doing is identifying the "hardest", "most impressive", "noteworthy" or whatever you want to call it ascent of the year! I think its good that the big achievements collect aclaim and are celebrated. But any notion of the award actually identifying the best ascent, or ascent's should be smoothed out. As its simply not the case. Rant over. Will
14 Mar, 2011
From The Website: The Spirit of Modern Alpinism More than just the recognition of a performance, the Piolets d'Or celebrates passion, spirit and values. The spirit of the Piolets d’Or draws its inspiration from the history of alpinism and the authenticity of true team spirit. The style should take precedence over the conquest of an objective. Success is no longer about getting to the summit at all costs, employing all possible financial and technical means, (oxygen, fixed ropes, doping products, etc) or large-scale human resources (high-altitude porters or sherpas). The Piolets d’Or event encourages imagination in searching for innovative routes using a maximum of economy of means, making use of experience and respecting man and nature. The Piolets d’Or is attached to making climbing a shared and valued richness all over the world, capable of attracting the best of human ambitions whilst encompassing moral values and edifying behaviour. The Piolets d'Or event is therefore a celebration of an ethical alpinism, rich in emotion. ..... The irrational fears have given way to high level preparation, a taste for adventure and complete commitment. The mountaineers take responsibility for the risks taken during these extreme climbs, where the only rescue available will come from their climbing companions or their expedition team. Mountaineering, an incongruous activity in our societies, is a vehicle for the values of commitment and high performance, achieved with a deep respect for nature in one of its most powerful expressions: the high mountains. The performance is difficult to assess. The summit cannot be the only goal: the manner in which it is achieved is the main objective. While a major crisis destabilizes our society, a few men and women with no desire for celebrity or without forecasting any return on their investment, perpetuate the ideal of climbing summits by the most beautiful means possible, because the mountains are exists and offer them this challenge “by fair means”. It was an obvious choice for Courmayeur and Chamonix to give something back to these “Conquerors of futility” in recognition of their undertakings in terms of means and values. Here, where mountaineering was born 250 years ago, it will be celebrated. The Piolets d'Or awards are a return to the roots and a celebration to understand the essence of this still-growing discipline. ...
14 Mar, 2011
Hi, ye i've read that. I couldn't make head or tail of what its trying to say. I think it basically carries you away in poetry and well meaning words, to a point where you're not actually bothered what it said. And really don't want to go through the ordeal of reading it again to find out. If its going more on the mentioned values, and difficulty has a small part to play, i think that the winning ascent should by rights go to some unknown person climbing some unknown couloir on peak unknown. Climbed in unknown's three weeks of annual leave. Come on stop kidding ourselves!! its still an award attempting to find the biggest route of the year! Will
14 Mar, 2011
Found the crieria. You would like to think respect for people and the environment would be a no brainer. Criteria for evaluating performances The jury judges these ascents irrespective of a climber's nationality and against the following criteria, both on a point-by-point basis and as a whole: - Style of ascent. - Spirit of exploration: original (previously unclimbed) route and/or mountain, creative and innovative approach. - Level of commitment and self-sufficiency. - High level of technical ability required. - Suitability of route in light of objective dangers. - Efficient and sparing use of resources. - Transparency regarding the use of these resources. - Respect for people, climbing partners, members of other teams, porters and local agents. - Respect for the environment. - Respect for future generations of mountaineers by leaving them the possibility of enjoying the same kind of experiences and adventures.
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