The Piolets d’Or Awards recognize and celebrate the boldest, most innovative alpine ascents of the year, completed
in the best style. Along with honoring cutting-edge ascents, Piolets d’Or also present a Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year, a nine-member ”international technical committee” selected four teams for four ascents, from 52 nominations, as recipients of the 24th annual Piolet’s d’Or. The four teams consist of 12 climbers from six different countries.
Wojciech Kurtyka – a Polish climber and mountaineer – is this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his long and successful career of
pioneering alpine routes around the globe.
Wojciech Kurtyka – Lifetime Achievement Award
In many ways, Kurtyka pioneered the alpine style now celebrated by the Piolet d’Or
Awards. Total commitment to long, minimalist expeditions has been the cornerstone of Kurtyka’s countless mountaineering accomplishments, stretching
back to the early 1970’s.
Kurtyka found quick success in mountaineering, afforded to him by a vision and passion for beautiful lines and pure techniques. The ‘70s saw him establishing
new routes on Akher Chagh (7,017m), Kohe Bandaka (6,868 m), and Kohe Tez (7,015 m) in the Hindu Kush, on Changabang (6,864 m) in the Indian Himalayas,
and on many other peaks in the greater ranges.
In 1974, Kurtyka was a member of the first winter expedition on Lhotse (8,516 m), coming within 300 meters of the summit. In1981, as a member of another
team, Kurtyka established a new direct route on Makalu (8, 481 m), before returning to make a solo ascent of the mountain in a later season via the
In 1985 he and climbing partner Robert Schauer reached the summit of Gasherbrum IV (7, 925) in Pakistan via the unclimbed west face. The duo reached the
summit with minimal rations and one bivy, proving the viability of single-push tactics that are now established elements of modern alpinism.
Kurtyka’s countless ascents are testament to a lifetime of dedication, pursuing beauty of the climb over recognition and style over success.
“Alpinism is the art of freedom,” Kurtyka writes for Piolets d’Or. “It offers a creative relationship with the mountain. Alpine climbing embodies this
relationship between the climber and the mountain.”
Piolets d’Or Honored Ascents:
Talung, 7,348 meters, Nepal
Nikita Balabanov (Ukraine) and Mikhail Famin (Ukraine)
On their second Himalayan expedition, Balabanov and Famin made the first ascent of the north-northwest pillar of Mt. Talung – a route that had seen four
unsuccessful attempts. The pair named the route Daddy Magnum Force (ED+). It ascends 1,700 meters through M6, AI6 and A3 terrain.
Gave Ding, 6,571 meters, Nepal
Mick Fowler (UK) and Paul Ramsden (UK)
Guided by instinct more than facts, Fowler and Ramsden trekked to the base of Gave Ding as the first Westerners to set foot in the remote valley, which
is unreachable by road. From basecamp, in minus 30-degree temperatures, they climbed 1,600 meters of uncharted and untouched terrain on the North Face
of Gave Ding to reach the summit.
For the Fowler and Ramsden, this is their third Piolets d’Or award following their 2002 ascent of Mount Siguniang (6,250 m) in China, and for making the
first ascent of the Prow of Shiva in Nepal in 2013. They are the only team to have taken home the award on three separate occasions.
Cerro Riso Patron, 2,550 meters, Chile
Jerome Sullivan (EU), Lise Billon (France), Diego Simari (Argentina), and Antoine Moineville (France)
Hasta las Webas (AI 5+, M5, ED-) climbs 1,000 meters along the northwest pillar of Cerro Riso Paron to the north summit of the mountain, 50 kilometers
southwest of Cerro Torre. The international team of four climbers made the first ascent of the line from September 22 to 24, following an epic five-day
approach to the mountain’s remote base. Theirs is the second ascent of the peak, following a 1988 Italian expedition.
Cerro Kitshwar, 6,173 meters, India
Hayden Kennedy (USA), Marko Prezelj (Slovenia), Urban Novak (Slovenia), Manu Pellissier (France)
a four-day push last October, Kennedy, Prezelj, Novak, and Pellissier made the first ascent of Light Before Wisdom (5.11 WI 6 M6 A2 1,600
meters) to the unrepeated summit of Cerro Kitshwa, before descending the south face to the mountain’s east couloir. The mountain was first climbed
in 1993 by Steve Sustad and Mick Fowler, another recipient of this year’s award.
For American Hayden Kennedy, this is his second Piolets d’Or recognition following his 2013 award for Pakistan’s Ogre I, Marko Prezelj is receiving the
award for the fourth time (awards with different teams).
About the Awards:
The Piolets d’Or are designed to be a celebration of mountaineering rather than a competition. Emphasis is placed on ascents in good style
rather than the summit itself. The following is an excerpt from the Piolets d’Or website:
“The style should take precedence over the conquest of an objective. Success is no longer about getting to the summit at all costs … The Piolets
d’Or throw the spotlight on imaginative and innovative new routes, using a minimum amount of equipment, and building on experience.”
French Vertical and Montagnes magazines, in collaboration with American Alpine Journal and journalists, compile the list of climbs for
consideration, and pass it to a jury, a nine-member “international technical committee,” for review. The following are ten criteria are used for evaluating
- 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.
The jury consisted of Yasuhiro Hanatani (Japan), Victor Saunders (UK), Simon Elias (Spain), Valery Babanov (Russia), Silvo Karo (Slovenia), Seb Bohin (France),
Raphael Slawinsky (Canada), Michael Kennedy (USA), and Hervé Barmasse (Italy).
This year the Piolets d’Or Awards ceremony will be held April 14to 17 in La Grave-La Mieje, France, contrarily to their usual venue in Chamonix.
Congratulations to all recipients of this year’s award.
To read more about the celebration and the recipients of the 2016 Piolets d’Or awards, visit the official website of the event.
Piolets d’Or Teaser: