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Cerro Torre
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Courmayeur and Chamonix will be the world's capital of alpinism thanks to the Piolets d’Or, the international award dedicated to alpinism.
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Piolets d'Or, special mention to Kennedy, Kruk, Lama and Ornter

22.03.2013 by Planetmountain

The Jury motivation for the special mention assigned to Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, David Lama and Peter Ortner which will be awarded during the 21st Piolet d'Or, scheduled to take place from 3 - 6 April 2013 at Courmayeur and Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc.

After the nominations for the 6 ascents in the running for the Piolets d'Or 2013, we have now published the recent press release of 21st Piolets d'Or which announces that the international jury comprised of Stephen Venables, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Silvo Karo and Katsutaka Yokoyama has awarded a Special Mention to two ascents: that carried out by Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk on the Cerro Torre Compressor route in January 2012, and that - carried out shortly afterwards - by David Lama and Peter Ortner up the same route. It is worth underlining that neither of these two ascents have been nominated for the Piolet d'Or and are therefore not in the running for this award.

As many will no doubt remember, both ascents generated much interest in the mountaineering world and fueled a heated debate. The first (by Kennedy and Kruk) for their removal of the bolts on the Compressor Route - with numerous diametrically opposed views for and against this removal - while the second (by Lama and Ortner) for the historic first free ascent of this route. Published below is the official Piolet d'Or press release and also the links to the articles published on planetmountain at the time of the two ascents.

PRESS RELEASE: THE PIOLETS D’OR - SPECIAL MENTION ASCENTS

In addition to the six nominated climbs (as published in the previous press release) the Jury of the 2013 Piolets d'Or has assigned a "Special Mention" to two symbolic and historically significant ascents made on Cerro Torre's southeast ridge in early 2012. The rationale behind this decision is presented in the following summation, which includes statements by Jury president Stephen Venables, and Jury member Silvo Karo.

In 1952, after making the first ascent of neighbouring Fitz Roy, the Frenchman Lionel Terray described Cerro Torre as "an impossible mountain," a expression totally applicable to the ice- capped, mile-high granite needle in his sight. He saw the impossibility because he understood that alpinism implied the willingness to measure oneself against the mountain’s natural challenges.

In 1970 Cesare Maestri placed over 300 bolts on the southeast ridge, a manufactured path that unequivocally altered the character of this spectacularly untamed peak. In January 2012 Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk climbed the southeast ridge by fair means and removed many of Maestri's bolts during their descent, taking the first step to recover the mountain's natural challenge, an act that also implied restoring it to an uncontroversial state. A few days later David Lama and Peter Ortner managed to complete a free ascent of the "fair means" southeast ridge, overcoming an even greater natural challenge. The Piolets d'Or organisers are happy to announce that the protagonists of these two ascents will be present in Chamonix/Courmayeur from April 3rd to 6th.

In his book 2000 Metri della Nostra Vita Maestri agreed with Kennedy and Kruk's actions, recounting that before making the first rappel he decided to, "take out all the bolts and leave the climb as clean as we found it." Unfortunately, after chopping 20 bolts and confronted by the magnitude of the enterprise, Maestri gave up. The bolts blinded possibilities: by returning Cerro Torre to a more natural state those blinders have been removed, as witnessed by the countless teams that climbed the west face this year. It turns out that the physical presence of the bolts was not nearly as important as their psychological impact, and their tendency to focus attention on the manufactured path, rather than on the mountain's natural features that allow passage. Maestri’s odyssey and the Compressor Route will live on in history books as a testament to man's potential for hubris and incredible drive, while Cerro Torre has recovered its standing as an icon of wilderness adventure.

The events on Cerro Torre in 2012 forced us to take a close look at the core values of alpinism. As Reinhold Messner explains, it is time to "leave behind the chains of conquest alpinism (1) ...and search again for the limits of possibility—for we must have such limits if we are going to use the virtue of courage to approach them." (2)

When asked about the Compressor Route, the legendary Slovene climber Silvo Karo, responsible for two new routes and one major link up on Cerro Torre, responded, "That climb was stolen from the future. Without all those bolts the history of that marvellous mountain would have been very different. I am convinced that in alpinism how you have climbed is more important than what you have climbed."

Jury president Stephen Venables expressed similar thoughts, saying "over the last 20 years climbing has become more and more a 'consumer' product, where you simply pay to receive a pre-packaged predictable experience. Kennedy, Kruk, Lama and Ortner have restored Cerro Torre's southeast ridge to the realm of genuine adventure. My feeling is that this goes way beyond Cerro Torre. The relentless increase in bolting of every lump of rock in the world is seriously undermining the most basic values of mountaineering."

(1) Personal email.
(2) The Murder of the Impossible, 1967.


11/03/2013 - Piolets d'Or 2013, the nominations for the 21st edition

CERRO TORRE - The discussion about the bolt removal

14/09/2007 - Cerro Torre: Patagonian Democracy
20/01/2012 - Cerro Torre, Kennedy and Kruk and the Compressor route by fair means
23/01/2012 - David Lama frees the Compressor route… while Kruk & Kennedy's bolt chopping is hotly debated
02/02/2012 - Cerro Torre: the bolt chopping and its history as seen through the eyes of Mario Conti
07/02/2012 - Cerro Torre bolt chopping, the debate in Italy
07/02/2012 - David Lama – interview after the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre
20/02/2012 - Cerro Torre an impossible mountain, the petition in favour of the bolt chopping
13/03/2012 - Jim Bridwell, his Cerro Torre point of view

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