Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman win the Karl Unterkircher Award 2016
On 27 July 2016 British mountaineers Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman received the 4th Karl Unterkircher Award for their first ascent of Link Sar West (6.938m - Karakoram). The other two ascents that had been nominated were Marek Raganowicz and Marcin Tomaszewski winter first ascent of Katharsis on Norway’s Troll wall and the first ascent of via Degli studenti up the NW Face of Civetta (Dolomites) by the Italians Giorgio Travaglia, Alex Walpoth, Martin Dejori and Titus Prinoth.
The jury of the 4th edition of "Karl Unterkircher Award” composed of Aldo Leviti (President), Carlo Caccia, Simon Kehrer, David Demetz and Thomas Huber awarded the prize, named after the great alpinist from Selva di Val Gardena, to Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman for their ascent of the previously unclimbed Link Sar West, the 6938m high mountain in Pakistan’s Karakorum. The two British climbers forged a new route up the NW Face they called Fever Pitch.
The other alpinists who had been nominated for the award were Marek Raganowicz and Marcin Tomaszewski from Poland, for their winter first ascent of Katharsis (1100m, A4 / M7), up Norway’s Troll Wall, and the young team composed of Giorgio Travaglia, Alex Walpoth, Martin Dejori, Tito Prinoth and Marta Mozzati for their first ascent of a Via degli studenti up the NW Face of Civetta (Dolomites).
"The decision", explained the jury, "proved to be extremely difficult due to the outstanding achievements of all the nominees and the fact that their ascents represent different aspects of contemporary alpinism, hence difficult to compare. All three ascents responded to very strict ethical criteria. In awarding the "Karl Unterkircher Award”, we wish not to place one climb on a pedestal, but simply to highlight it, also in relation to the spirit of award."
The Jury motivation for the award to Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman reads as follows “Extremely difficult factors such as solitude and isolation, the high altitude and the adverse weather conditions rendered the ascent even more difficult. The choice of a minimalist alpine style, the excellent organisation and a brief window of good weather made this climb possible. The jury also wanted to reward the team’s perseverance and multiple attempts carried out to pursue this ambitious goal. Furthermore, the Jury was also extremely impressed by the capabilities and the technical skills of the four young students on the West Face of Civetta, and the tenacity of two young Poles on Trollveggen Wall, the highest and steepest face in Europe, climbed in winter."
The special guest at the awards ceremony was legendary Kurt Diemberger (the only living high altitude mountaineer to have made the first ascent of two eight-thousanders).