November 2007. The second edition of the Piolet d'or Asia was held in Seoul on 2 November and was awarded to the Korean team comprised of Sim Kwang Sik, Kang Yongsun and Joo MinSu who in July 2007 carried out the first ascent of the Garmush West Face (Hindu Kush, Pakistan).
The second edition of the Piolet d'Or Asia now has its winners: the Koreans Sim Kwang Sik, Kang Yongsun and Joo MinSu won the Asian "Golden Ice axe" for their first ascent of the Garmush West Face, the 6244m high mountain in Pakistan's Hindu Kush climbed in "perfect alpine style" on 7 July. And judging by the telegraphic jury motivation, this is what made the difference.
It is worth underlining that this second edition also seems to reward a form of mountaineering which searches for new terrain on mountains which are not 8000ers and which, for many, represent the new vertical frontier, not only in the Himalaya. Garmush and the Hindu Kush are amongst that long (and often beautiful) list of mountain ranges which hide the unknown, the still to be explored.
The "small" Garmush ascent beat three teams nominated for their ascents on three 8000m peaks. These were comprised of the 31 May ascent of the 8400m high Lhotse Shar South Face (at the hands of the Koreans Um Hong Gil, Sung Ho Byun, Sang Hyeon Mo and Pasng Namgyal Sherpa from Nepal) the first integral winter ascent of the South Face of Lhotse by a Japanese Osamu Tanabe expedition, and the K2 North Face ascent by the Kazakh's Denis Urubko and Serguey Samoilov, winners of the first Asian Piolet d'or 2006 for their new route on another 8000m giant, Manaslu.
So the message from Seoul, which celebrated the award's ceremony in style a few days ago, seems loud and clear: the future is not only alpine style (and this is nothing new) but also directed towards the hidden gems on the world's "small" and semi-known mountains.
Sim Kwang_Sik, Kwang Yong_Sun, Joo Min-Su – South Korea