Piolet d'Or 2010: the candidates and the evenings in Courmayeur and Chamonix
The Piolet d'Or 2010 will take place from 8 - 10 April in the towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix with a series of conferences, debates, films, meetings and other cultural activities. The event begins on Thursday 8 April in Courmayeur with an evening dedicated to young climbing partnerships...
The Piolet d'Or 2010 promises to be a good one. It begins on Thursday 8 April with a fantastic evening dedicated to climbing partnerships, family-style, with special guests in the form of Simon and Samuel Anthamatten from Switzerland, Iker and Eneko Pou from Spain, Hansjörg and Vitus Auer from Austria and the Italian (father and son partnership) formed byMarco and Hervé Barmasse. The Piolet then continues on Friday, once again in Courmayeur, with the evening dedicated to Reinhold Messner during which the great South Tyrolean mountaineer will received the Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement award from Maurice Herzog and the mayors of both Courmayeur and Chamonix. The festive marathon comes to an end on Saturday in Chamonix with the evening dedicated to the Piolet d'Or 2010; those in the running for the most coveted alpinism award are five exceptional climbs while the six members of the Jury, presided by Andrej Stremfelj from Slovenia, is just as impressive.
This, in extreme synthesis, is what the 18th Piolet d'Or dedicated to great international alpinism is all about. Scheduled for 8 - 10 April it will begin, as mentioned, with the evening which takes a closer look at the "meaning" of a climbing partnership and those indissoluble bonds which are created when climbers tie in to the same rope.
4 CLIMBING PARTNERSHIPS AND THE INDISSOLUBLE BONDS OF ALPINISM
Four formidable partnerships who stand for an alpinism whose values and bonds are indissoluble. This is the theme of the evening which the Courmayeur town council and the Valle d'Aosta region have organised for Thursday 8 April as a prologue to the 18th Piolet d'Or, the world's most important mountaineering award which, this year too, will be held in the towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix from 9 to 10 April.
The exceptional guests will be three extremely strong climbing partnerships. There is the legendary one formed by the Basque climbers Iker and Eneko Pou, the champion climbers and alpinist-explorers of the world's biggest mountain faces. Then there is the one formed by the young Swissmen Simon and Samuel Anthamatten, which many believe to be one of the strongest partnerships of the future. And then there is the one formed by the phenomenon of the solo of the "Fish route" on the South Face of the Marmolada, Hansjörg Auer, who will reveal the importance of climbing with a rope and, in particular, climbing with his brothers. The host will be another exemplary partnership from the Valle d'Aosta, the one formed by Hervé Barmasse and his father Marco, who will talk about their beautiful experience on the South Face of the Matterhorn where they recently ascended a great a demanding new route.
The evening will be a occasion to examine alpinism and its values together with some of the strongest partnerships in the world, but also a moment to introduce the spirit of the new generations. Furthermore, it will also be an occasion to announce and prepare for the event on 9 April which, in Courmayeur once again, will see Reinhold Messner receive the Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement award. It comes as no surprise that three of the four partnership are formed by siblings. In fact, everyone knows that Reinhold Messner's great mountaineering season began with his brother Günther, the never-forgotten brother who died on Nanga Parbat, with whom Reinhold formed a perfect partnership. Perhaps it is "family" partnerships that represent the non-plus-ultra of that profound bond which alpinists feel when they tie in to the same rope together.
Marco and Hervé Barmasse will have the role of introducing the theme and presenting the entire evening. This father and son team, born and bred in the Valle d'Aosta, shares the same passion for the mountains. Both are Mountain Guides and ski instructors. Both are extremely talented alpinists. Hervé, the son, has made a name for himself over the last couple of years with ascents in the Alps, Himalaya and Patagonia. Marco, the father, is one of the alpinists who was instrumental in the development of the big mountain faces in the Valle d'Aosta. And on 13 March they roped up to make the first ascent of a beautiful and demanding new route on the immense South Face of the Matterhorn, their great and beloved home mountain.
Iker and Eneko Pou will accompany us to the great mountains with their "7 Walls, 7 Continents" tour as well as providing insight into their alpine undertakings which began together and which they continue to share together. This journey takes them from the hardest sport climb climbed by Iker to the big climbs in their Pyrenees, in Patagonia, in Yosemite Valley, in Africa, in Australia and in the Antarctic. Their ascents have gone down in the history of alpinism. Just like the ascents of Simon Anthamatten who, at a mere 26 years of age, has already received the Piolet d'Or 2009 together with Ueli Steck for the first ascent of the North Face of Tengkangpoche in Nepal. Simon and his younger brother Samuel form a record-breaking climbing team and proof of this can be found on their new route up the beautiful Nepalese mountain Jasemba. Their's though is above all a story which starts at the roots of "their" mountain, the Matterhorn, since they grew up and matured beneath its shadow, not only as alpinists.
Another great story which will be unveiled during the evening is that of Hansjörg Auer who, despite being known above all for his incredible solo of the "Via Attraverso il pesce" on the immense South Face of the Marmolada, will talk about the extreme importance of climbing in a team. And the importance of growing up in a family where alpinism is something contagious, so much so that three of his brothers are his habitual climbing partners. Undoubtedly there is a soul which unites alpinism, formed by the bond which is created every time an alpinist ties in to a rope. The same bond which will take the stage in Courmayeur on 8 April.
PIOLET D'OR 2010 - THE NOMINEES
Cho Oyu, 8201 m - Nepal
Kazakhs Denis Urubko and Boris Dedechko opened a new route on the South East Face in May (Nepalese
side). With this ascent, Urubko becomes the fifteenth man to have successfully climbed all fourteen 8000ers, and the ninth person to do it without oxygen. At 36 years of age, the Kazakh has taken nine years to accomplish this feat. He did not choose the easy option when opening a new route, alpine-style, on three 8000ers including this one, an ascent which won him a Piolet d’Or Asia.
Name of the route: Kazakh Dedechko-Urubko
Difficulty announced: M6, 6b, A2/A3
Date of the ascent: from 11th to 15th May 2009
Chang Himal, 6750 m - Nepal
At the beginning of November, Brits Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman successfully completed a first on the central pillar of the North Face of Chang Himal, not far from Kanchenjunga. The two men took five days to climb this technical route of 1800 metres of mixed difficulty evaluated at M6. The route had previously been attempted without success in 2007 by Slovenian climbers.
Name of the route: Bullock-Houseman
Difficulty announced: M6
Date of the ascent: from 29th October to 2nd November 2009
Gongga North-West Peak 6134m - China
The first ascent of this summit, situated in Sichuan province, was successfully completed in May by Russians Mikhail Mikhailov and Alexander Ruchkin. They climbed the 1100 metre rock pillar over five days. It presented mixed difficulty on the lower section and a fabulous free-climb on the upper section. These two alpinists, members of the expedition to the North Face of Jannu in January 2004, specified that they used no bolts to open this route. They were awarded the Russian Piolet d’Or for this ascent.
Name of the route: Carte Blanche
Difficulty announced: 6c free climbing, mixed climbing with an ice passage of 75°
Date of the ascent: April 2009
Xuelian West, 6422 m China
Over five days, Americans Jed Brown and Kyle Dempster along with Scotsman Bruce Normand completed the North face of the Xuelian West (Chinese Tien Shan). This climb is long, complicated and technically difficult. The summit had never been climbed.
Name of the route: The Great White Jade Heist
Difficulty announced: ice 5, rock 5, mixed M6.
Date of the ascent: from 26th to 30th August 2009
Pic Pobeda, 7439m Kirghizstan
At the end of August, Russian climbers Vitaly Gorelik and Gleb Sokolov opened a difficult new route on the North Face of Peak Pobeda, the highest summit in the Tien Shan massif. The two men climbed a difficult 2400 metre buttress alpine-style in seven and a half days, in bad weather conditions, until they reached a minor peak along the long summit. They then took one and a half days to descend. They encountered numerous passages of black ice and delicate zones of mixed terrain which slowed their progress. Sokolov, 56 and Gorelik aged 42 are both experienced Russian alpinists. They were both members of the victorious K2 expedition in 2007.
Name of the route: Sokolov/Gorelik
Difficulty announced: ED
Date of the ascent: from 20th to 29th August 2009