The seventh Piolet d'Or Carrière will be awarded this year to British alpinist and mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington in recognition of his lifetime achievements in mountaineering.
The Piolet d'Or Carrière was created to acknowledge a mountaineering career that has inspired generations through its spirit, and one which is in harmony with the criteria established by the Charter. In 2009, the first Piolet d'Or Carrière was awarded to Walter Bonatti. He was followed by Reinhold Messner (2010), Doug Scott (2011), Robert Paragot (2012), Kurt Diemberger (2013) and John Roskelley (2014). Sir Chris will receive his award in Courmayeur, Italy in April this year.
Born in 1934, Chris Bonington began climbing at the age of 17. In 1958 he took part in an early ascent of the Bonatti Pillar on the Petit Dru, and later became the flrst Briton to climb the North Face of the Eiger. He was soon invited to take part in Himalayan adventures; he reached the summit of Annapurna Il (7927 m) in 1960, and then Nuptse (7861 m) in 1961. These achievements were followed by a succession of first ascents: the Central Pillar of Freney on Mont Blanc (1961, with Don Whillans, lan Clough and Jan Duglosz), Central Tower of Paine (Patagonia, 1963, with Don Whillans) and the Righthand Pillar of Brouillard (1965, with Rusty Baillie, John Harlin, and Brian Robertson). In 1966, having become a photojournalist, he covered the ascent of the Direttissima on the Eiger North Face, providing assistance to John Harlin's team.
ln 1970 Himalayan climbers benefitted from the reopening of Nepal, and began climbing the great faces of its giant peaks. Bonington led a strong team on the south face of Annapurna, where Don Whillans and Dougal Haston reached the summit. In 1975 he led a successful expedition to Everest, which made the first ascent of the Southwest Face. In between he made the first ascent of Brammah 1 (6411 m) in Kishtwar, and Changabang (6864 m) in the Garhwal. ln 1977, Bonington climbed Baintha Brakk (7285 m) with Doug Scott, who broke both ankles early in the descent. The two men then made one of the most extraordinary descents in the history of Himalayan climbing. In 1981 he made the first ascent of Kongur (7719 m), a huge mountain in China. In 1983 he climbed a technical rock route to make the first ascent of Shivling West with Jim Fotheringham. Prior to this he had organized an expedition to the West face of K2 (1978) and the Northeast ridge of Everest (1982). Then followed two expeditions to Melungtse, Vinson in 1983, and Everest, which he summited in 1985.
Bonington was knighted in 1996.
In tonight's video, Sir Chris and Leo Houlding climb the original route up the Old Man of Hoy - first climbed by Sir Chris himself and Tom Patey in July 1967 - to celebrate his 80th birthday and also to raise awareness and funds to battle motor neurone disease, in memory of his wife Wendy who died of the condition last year.