For the first time ever, the John Lauchlan Award will be assisting two expeditions. One of the trips is in Canada and one will be to Pakistan.

The award recipients were announced earlier this season at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. Top Canadian alpinist Jim Elzinga is the chair of the award committee and was on had to deliver the awards.

Baffin Island

Canadian Michelle Kadatz and New Zealand climber Gemma Wilson received funds to assist with their trip to Baffin Island in the summer of 2018.

Michelle Kadatz on Baffin Island in 2015. Photo Anna Smith

Objectives: To establish new long granite climbs. The routes listed below are all within a half-day approach from Summit Lake, which will be their main base camp.

Mount Freya is situated above Summit Lake. There are currently no routes on the beautiful Rostrum-like southeast pillar.

Mount Tyr located up the Caribou glacier between Mount Asgard and Mount Walle has new route potential in the form of hard, multi-pitch rock climbs.

Michelle Kadatz receives award from Jim Elzinga

An attempt to make the first free ascent of Stories in Stone 5.11d A0 600 m on Mount Walle. It’s rumoured that the climb will be about 5.12-.

The north face of Mount Northumbria has no existing routes but looks to have a number of options. “We also would like to climb something on Mount Asgard, the signature mountain of the area. There are so many options that we will wait to see which line inspires us the most.

“We will attempt all mountains in alpine style, on-sight free climbing as much as possible. We plan to tackle as many walls as we have energy and time for.”

Gemma Wilson in Squamish. Photo John Price


Alik Berg, Chris Brazeau, Ian Welsted and Raphael Slawinski received the award for their summer 2018 trip to the Kondus Valley in Pakistan.

Objectives: The Kondus Valley in the eastern Karakoram of Pakistan offers many unclimbed objectives, ranging from 6,000-metre rock spires to Sherpi Kangri – at 7,380 m one of the tallest unclimbed peaks in the world. Also worthy of mention are the spectacular unattempted K13 (6,666 m) and the unclimbed north face of K7 (6,934 m).

Sherpi Kangri, K13 and the north side of K7 present world-class objectives. “We are not so bold
as to propose definite climbing routes, as the area is largely unexplored and undocumented. However, it
is clear that they promise difficult mixed climbing at high altitude.”

Sherpi Kangri

There are many advantages to visiting the Kondus Valley. With numerous inspiring objectives it is highly likely the team will be able to go climbing – really climbing.

When visiting an area where there is only one objective, it often happens that the team leaves without doing any climbing of a technical nature, getting shut down after a period of acclimatization.

At the other extreme, too often international visitors select an area where they are able to summit small subsidiary peaks without engaging with the real peaks of the Karakoram, which in our experience begin at an elevation around the 6,500-metre mark.

Khor Kangri in Kondus Valley

In the same region as the proposed objectives is Link Sar (7,041 m), which has been generating considerable interest in international climbing circles, seeing visits in the summer of 2017 by Steve Swenson and partners as well as Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi.

“We are making a point of not proposing attempting this objective out of respect for the previous visitors who plan on returning.

However, it does indicate that substantial objectives of interest to the international climbing community exist in the Kondus Valley.”

Jim Elzinga, Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted during award announcement

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