The 2019 Piolets d’Or goes to the late alpinists Dave Lama and Hansjorg Auer for individual solo ascents and to Tom Livingstone, Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar for their new route on Latok I.
The jury selected the three climbs out of a list of dozens of bold ascents from around the world, done by the best alpinists, from last year. The routes climb Latok I, Lunag Ri and Lupghar Sar. David Lama and Hansjorg Auer, along with Jess Roskelley, died in an accident on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies this spring. Lama and Auer’s family will receive the award on their behalf.
Lama’s first attempt on Lunag Ri was in 2015 with Conrad Anker, they made ti to within 300 metres of the summit before turning around. In 2016, they attempted again, but Anker suffered a heart attack and had to be flown out. Lama then attempted it solo that year, but had to return in 2018 to make the first ascent of one of the highest unclimbed peaks in Nepal.
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From the summit of Lunag Ri.⠀ ⠀ And suddenly it’s just a few more steps. In front of me lies the summit spur of Lunag Ri. I can still remember well how @Conrad_Anker and I sat by our tent at advanced basecamp in 2015. With binoculars in hand, we wondered if this granite tower visible from below was actually the summit. It was just one of the many questions that came up when we first set out to attempt the first ascent. That was four years ago now. A lot has happened since then, and that’s exactly what makes these final steps so special.⠀ ⠀ I traverse the last few metres over wind packed snow that sticks to the granite on the Nepalese side of the mountain. Even though my head is full with the impressions that I absorb every moment up here, my thoughts are somehow empty. The knowledge that I must not make any mistake is constantly present and dominates all other feelings. It results in an intense, almost exhausting concentration – a feeling I know only from other solo ascents in the mountains.⠀ ⠀ Having arrived at the very front of the summit spur, I stand still. It feels strange that suddenly I have no more further to go. I sink down to my knees, tired and happy, even though I wouldn’t be able to express it that way right now. Briefly I think about Conrad. He is the only one I would have liked to share this moment with.⠀ ⠀ Then the short wave of emotions is over, and the knowledge that I should descend the mountain as far as possible today takes hold. I’ve achieved my goal and the descent is upon me – as I’ll have only fully succeeded when I’m back down again.⠀ ⠀ Click my bio link to watch the entire series of videos from Basecamp to Summit.⠀ ⠀ #LunagRi #firstascent #himalayas⠀ ⠀ @Redbull @thenorthface @gloryfy @lasportivagram @kaestleski @Leki.Ski.Outdoor⠀
Lupghar Sar was climbed in the late 1970s and in 1980, but no serious attempt was made until last year. After Auer spent time watching the wall, he advanced via the Baltbar Glacier to bivy near the west face of Lupghar Sar West.
The next day, he climbed the face to the ridge at 6,900 metres and onto the summit. The climbing involved mixed climbing on bad rock with a corniced right. He descended back to his base camp the same day.
Latok I’s north ridge had been attempted dozens of times before Livingstone, Cesen and Strazar opted to leave the ridge before the top to traverse onto the south face and onto the summit. The first attempt was in 1978 by Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, George Lowe and Jeff Lowe over 21 days up 100 pitches. The first ascent of the peak was in 1979 by a Japanese team from the south, but the summit hadn’t been reached again until last year.
It took Livingstone, Cesen and Strazar five days to reach the summit and three to reverse their route. It was the first ascent of the mountain from the north. Also in 2018, Sergei Glazunov and Alexander Gukov nearly completed the ridge to its top. Tragically, Glazunov died on the descent and Gukov was rescued. Watch a video of the Russian ascent here.
The Piolets d’Or will take place from Sept. 19 to 22 during the Ladek Mountain Festival in Poland.
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A morning after snow storm just 300 m below the top of Latok was the moment when we were convinced we would have to return without the final summit push. Fortunately, the weather improved soon after – allowing us to finish our climb in best possible way. #alpinestyle #alpineclimbing #latok #choktoi #karakoram @kailasofficial