On April 11, the awards of the 2015 Piolet d’Or were accepted by this year’s recipients in Courmayeur, Italy. It was an evening to remember.
Remember in 2014 when Canadians Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted won the Piolets d’Or along with Ueli Steck. The Piolets d’Or committee selected climbs that embodied bold, but controlled alpine climbing.
For 2015, the award focused even more on quality over quantity and has lost some of its controversial competitive edge. The recipients of the 23rd annual award celebration of the Piolet d’Or are Russians Aleksander Gukov and Aleksey Lonchinsky and Slovenians Marko Prezelj, Ales Cesen, Luka Lindic and Americans Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold. Britain’s Chris Bonington accepted the lifetime achievement award.
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 assembled an international technical committee (which included Canadian Raphael Slawinski) made up of nine top mountaineers, originating from nine different countries.
Hagshu – Piolets d’or 2015 Winner
From Planetmountain.com: Aleš Česen, Luka Lindič 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 day. They summited the next day, September 30, at 5 p.m., then descended by the original route, first opened in 1989 by Polish climbers.
Fitz Roy Traverse – Piolets d’or 2015 Winner
From Planetmountain.com: From February 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-metre of ascent, a maximum grade of 5.11, with ice sections at 65°. Such a traverse could only be contemplated by very fast climbers.
Thamserku – Piolets d’or 2015 Winner
From Planetmountain.com: Alexander Gukov and Alexey Lonchinsky (Russia) have opened up a route on the South Face, at 1,620 metres. Their route, which required six bivies, has been named Shy Girl. They estimated it as grade 5.10, presenting some passages on steep ice with mixed sections M4-M5 and passages requiring artificial climbing (A2). The descent was via the South Ridge and the South-West Face in twenty-two rappels.