British mountaineers Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden have been awarded a Piolet d'Or - or 'Golden Axe' - for their first ascent of the North Buttress of Nyainqentangla South East in Tibet last Autumn (UKC news report). Two winners were announced for 2016 and a Russian team who established a new line on Thalay Sagar were also named as recipients alongside the British team. Each year, the Piolets d'Or recognise significant new ascents in mountaineering; taking style, innovation, commitment and respect for both the environment and local people into consideration.
Nick and Paul made the first ascent of a 1600m, ED+ route up the North Buttress of Nyainqêntanglha's South East Face (7046m) in Tibet, China over seven days in October 2016. Although both accomplished and highly respected mountaineers, this was the first time that the pair had climbed together.
For Paul, the announcement marks his fourth Piolet d'Or win, following previous recognition alongside Mick Fowler for the North Face of Siguniang in China in 2003, the Prow of Shiva in India in 2013 and Gave Ding, Nepal in 2016.
Paul - who was oblivious to the fact that he'd won when we contacted him initially - sent UKC this message regarding his fourth Piolet d'Or:
'I am really pleased that our ascent has been recognised. It was a brilliant mountain and we tried really hard to climb it in the best possible style. In the age of Google Earth, social media and satellite communications it is pretty hard to find real adventure. In fact, the only way to find real adventure these days is through the style of your ascent and it a message that needs to be promoted to mountaineers everywhere, which is what the new format of the Piolet D’Or tries to do.'
Nick, who is currently climbing in Spain, told UKC:
'From the Reus Carrefour before heading north I'm chuffed, it's cool to have such a prestigious panel of climbers choose our hill and climb!'
The awards will be presented in Grenoble, France in November. Two ascents also received special mentions from the judges: a new route up the south face of Gangapurna (7,455m) in the Annapurna Sanctuary by Korean trio Cho Seok-mun, Kim Chang-ho and Park Joung-yong alongside Colin Haley and Alex Honnold's astonishing feat of completing the Torres Traverse in Patagonia in a day.
Watch a self-shot film about the Tibet expedition below: