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Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold Among the 2015 Piolet d’Or Recipients

The 2015 Piolet d'Or will be awarded to three of the most outstanding climbs from 2014.

Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold are  being awarded one of three Piolets d'Or in 2015 for their Fitz Roy Traverse.
Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold are being awarded one of three Piolets d’Or in 2015 for their Fitz Roy Traverse.  Photo from Alex Honnold’s Facebook page

This is the 23rd annual Piolet’s d’Or, which is considered the highest honour in alpinism. This year, the award is focusing on achievement and has lost some of its controversial competitive edge. There are three winners in 2015 and they will be awarded on April 9 to 12 in Chamonix, France and Courmayeur, Italy.

From the Piolet d’Or:

The year 1865 marked the apotheosis of the golden age of climbing summits of the Alps, and the Piolets d’Or 2015 will be the occasion to announce a series of commemorative exhibitions and events, which will punctuate the summer season 2015.

For serious modern alpinism, in view of the astonishing climbs achieved over the last quarter of a century, one could legitimately consider that the Golden Age of alpine style on the highest summits of the planet is now. How far are mountaineers willing to go? After 2012 and 2013, two exceptional years for remarkable achievements, the year 2014 has seen a break, probably due to the geo-political context.

The adventurous mountaineers have shown themselves to be less timid than the classic tourist, but the tragedy of the Nanga Parbat base camp in June 2013, as well as the assassination of French mountain guide Hervé Gourdel, in Algeria last September, have really affected the climbing and mountaineering community.

Despite this difficult context, remarkable achievements have been numerous and the spirit of an alpinism committed to exploration remains intact. This year, the Piolets d’Or have assembled an international technical committee (which included Canadian Raphael Slawinski) made up of nine top mountaineers, originating from nine different countries.

The committee is responsible for selecting- with total freedom and independence- from among the 2014 expeditions which correspond to the Charter of the Piolets d’Or, which will be honoured in April 2015, in Chamonix and Courmayeur.

2015 Piolets d’Or Recipients 

The traverse of the Fitz Roy range in Argentina, Patagonia

From Feb. 12 to 16, 2014 Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold succeeded in completing the full traverse of the range, from north to south. They had to climb seven summits: Aguja Guillaumet, Aguja Mermoz, Cerro Fitz Roy, Aguja Poincenot, Aguja Rafael Juarez, Aguja Saint-Exupery and Aguja S, a total of 4,000 m of ascent, a maximum grade of 5.12, with ice sections at 65°. Such a traverse could only be contemplated by very fast climbers.

Fitz Roy Traverse  Photo courtesy of Patagonia.com
Fitz Roy Traverse Photo courtesy of Patagonia.com

Thamserku in Nepal, Khumbu

Alexander Gukov and Alexey Lonchinsky (Russia) have opened up a route on the SouthFace, at 1,620 m. Their route, which required six bivies, has been named Shy Girl. They estimated it as grade 6A/6B (Russian grading), presenting some passages on steep ice with mixed sections M4 to M5, and passages requiring artificial climbing A2. The descent was via the South Ridge and the South-West Face in twenty-two abseils.

Thamserku   Photo Franco Ralpho
Thamserku Photo Franco Ralpho

Hagshu in India, Kisthwar

Ales Cesen, Luka Lindic and Marko Prezelj (Slovenia) opened a route on the North face of 1,350 metres high, ED, ice at 90°. The steepness and difficulty of the ice forced them to climb until two o’clock in the morning, on the first They summited the next day, September 30, at 5 p.m., then descended by the original route, first opened in 1989 by Polish climbers.

Hagshu   Photo Mick Fowler
Hagshu Photo Mick Fowler