Nobel Prize winning physicist and pioneering climber Mike Kosterlitz has been announced as the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Arco Rock Legends Climbing Ambassador award. The 74 year old Scottish born scientist is credited with the first ascent of some classic rock routes in the Italian Alps - including the eponymous Fessura Kosterlitz 6a+ on Massi del Sergent in the Orco Valley and the rarely repeated Via degli Inglesi (ED) on Piz Badile, Bregaglia. Mike's influence within the Italian climbing scene catalysed progression towards modern alpinism.
Amongst numerous impressive ascents in the European Alps, Yosemite and beyond, Mike also made the first repeat of The American Direct (ED1) on Les Dru in the Mont Blanc Massif.
Mike played an understated yet influential role in developing modern European Alpine climbing by initiating the Nuovo Mattino or 'New Morning' movement in alpinism, in which limiting, old-fashioned values focussing on summits, nationalism and heroics were challenged in favour of creativity and technological advancement in free climbing.
Those with a keen eye may also have spotted Mike in Hard Rock - one of Ken Wilson's famous triptych of climbing books - on Gormenghast, E1 in Eskdale.
In 2016, Mike was named as one of three recipients of the shared Nobel Prize in Physics (UKC news report). Alongside two colleagues - David Thouless and Duncan Haldane - he was awarded a share of the prize 'for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.'
Born in Aberdeen in 1943, Michael received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1969. Following a period as a postdoctoral researcher at Torino University in Italy - in convenient proximity to the Italian Alps - he became a research fellow at Birmingham University in 1970 before beginning work at Brown University in the USA in 1982.
The Arco Rock Legends Climbing Ambassador award is presented annually during the Rock Master Festival to an individual 'who has guided and influenced the development of climbing with their passion, vision and energy.'
On receiving it, Mike commented:
'My climbing years were very important to me and it is very special to be honored for my early climbing exploits.'
The award will be presented on Friday 25th August in Arco, Italy, during the 12th edition of the Arco Rock Legends awards - the "Oscars" of sport climbing. The late British climber John Ellison - founder of Climbers Against Cancer - was the recipient of the Climbing Ambassador award in 2015 (UKC news report).
*Stay tuned for an upcoming UKC interview with Mike, to which he has kindly agreed.*
More information on Mike and the award on the Arco Rockmaster 2017 website.