Seven ascents involving British climbers have made the 2023 list of significant global ascents released by the Piolets d'Or organising committee. Each year, the Piolets d'Or awards recognise significant new ascents in mountaineering, taking style, innovation, commitment and respect for both the environment and local people into consideration. While a select few are honoured with an award, a longer list of notable climbs is released ahead of the prizegiving ceremony.
The 2022 Piolet d'Or awards were presented to a Georgian team for a first ascent of Saraghrar Northwest (7,300m) via the northwest face, (2,300m, ED2 or Russian/Caucasian 6B, 6b M5+ A3+ 80-90°) and to Irish-Belgian alpinist Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll for his first complete south to north traverse of the Fitz Roy Massif (Aguja de l'S to Aguja Guillaumet), which he achieved solo and named Moonwalk Traverse (4,000m+, 6c 50°).
Read notes from the 2023 Piolets d'Or international technical jury on selected notable ascents involving Brits below:
Gulmit Tower 5810m, Pakistan
Not a particularly hard route but an innovative approach and perhaps a pointer to the future. First ascent of Gulmit Tower (5,810m), Batura Muztagh, via south and west faces (450m couloir, 50°, followed by 350m steep rock and mixed), June 27, by Fabian Buhl (Germany) and Will Sim (UK) approaching and departing the mountain (to and from Karimabad in a 36-hour weather window) by paraglider. Their approach from the south, which would take four-five days on foot, is considered too steep and dangerous for laden porters.
Barnaj II (6,303m), India
First ascent of the east summit of Barnaj II (6,303m), Zanskar, via Seracnaphobia (1,500m, ED M5 AI4) on the north face, from October 7-8 by Matt Glenn, Callum Johnson, Tom Seccombe (UK). Rappelled route.
Jugal Spire (6,563m), Nepal
First ascent of Jugal Spire (6,563m), Jugal Himal, via The Phantom Line (1,300m, ED) on the north face, from April 25-29, by Tim Miller and Paul Ramsden (UK). Traversed the mountain, descending by previously unclimbed ground.
Ingmikortilaq / Pool Wall, Greenland
First climb on Ingmikortilaq (1,150m straight from the sea), Renland, via the northeast ridge (5.11- X) by Hazel Findlay (UK) and Alex Honnold (USA). Ropes fixed to half-height for filming purposes. Also, first ascent of Pool Wall (13 pitches, 5.12c), Edward Bailey Glacier, Renland, by Findlay, Honnold, Aldo Kane and Mikey Schaefer. Ropes fixed so that the team, including two scientists, could access the Renland icecap above, and then cross it while conducting climate-related experiments.
Qaersorssuaq / Agparssuit, Greenland
First ascent of Sea Barge Circus (900m, 5.11+) on the northwest-facing sea cliff of Qaersorssuaq, a.k.a. Sanderson's Hope, West Greenland. This was also the first free ascent of the wall and was climbed partly with fixed rope, then in capsule style, from August 5-24 by Jacob Cook, Zack Goldberg-Poch, Bronwyn Hodgins, Jaron Pham, Angela Vanwiemeersch, and Kelsey Watts (all Canada except for Vanwiemeersch from USA, and Cook who is UK/Canada) The three women made the first ascent of Time is a Construct (400m, 5.11 A2) on the Red Wall, east face of Agparssuit, in a 50-hour push, over August 1-2.
Kichatna Spire (2,739m), Alaska
First ascent of Thunderstruck (1,200m, 33 pitches, A3+ 6c) on the east buttress of Kichatna Spire (2,739m), Kichatna Range, by Mark Thomas and Mike Turner (UK). Fixed ropes from May 28-June 5 then capsule to summit, on June 8.
View the full list here.
This year, the recipients of the restigious golden ice axes will be presented at an event in Briançon, France from 14-16 November.
For more information on each ascent, visit the Piolets d'Or website.