Piolets d'Or 2021 announces awarded ascents, Silvia Vidal receives Special Mention
The 2021 Piolets d'Or awards for alpinism will be awarded in November at Briançon, France, to Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer for their ascent of Sani Pakkush and Ethan Berman and Uisdean Hawthorn for their ascent of Mount Robson. Catalan climber Silvia Vidal has received a special mention.
The organisers of the prestigious Piolet's d'Or mountaineering awards announced earlier today the recipients of the 2021 edition and these are French climbers Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer for their October 2020 new route on Sani Pakkush (6,952m), and America's Ethan Berman and Britain's Uisdean Hawthorn for their new line on the Emperor Face of Mount Robson (3,954m) in Canada. In addition, Catalan climber Silvia Vidal has received a Special Mention - not to be confused with the Lifetime Achievement Award - for her outstanding contribution to solo big wall climbing over the last two decades. The awards will be celebrated at Briançon in France from 26-29 November, and prior to this date the organisers will also announce the coveted Piolet d'Or Carrière.
The organisers stated "Challenges in mountaineering took a different turn in 2020, with most parties forced to cancel planned trips and Greater Range expeditions due to COVID-19 restrictions. Climbers would be innovative in the countries they could access, mostly their own. For European alpinists during the summer months this largely meant the Alps, where there were noticeably more than the usual number of high-quality ascents. To reflect the mountaineering activity of 2020, the 2021 Piolets d'Or International Jury has decided to award one altitude and one non-altitude ascent, both, in different ways, meeting our
high mountaineering values."
The winners were selected from the preliminary list of significant ascents, compiled as per usual by Lindsay Griffin (Senior Editor, American Alpine Journal), with help from Dougald MacDonald (Editor in Chief, American Alpine Journal) and Rodolphe Popier (Club Alpin Francais). The list is published below and as explained, the small number of ascents reflects limited activity, certainly in many of the Greater Ranges, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 HONOURED ASCENTS
Sani Pakkush (6,952m)
South face and southwest ridge - Revers Gagnant (ca 2,500m, M4+ WI4+ 90°),
Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer (France), October 16-19 for the ascent.
After the pandemic thwarted plans to travel to Nepal in the autumn, Fine and Welfringer had just two weeks to come up with a new idea. Pakistan was the only country to allow them entry, and after a thorough study of mapping data they opted for the unknown south face of Sani Pakkush, a 6,952m peak in the western Karakoram that had been climbed only once; in 1991 by Germans via the northwest ridge.
This would be a thoroughly exploratory expedition: the south face is big and complex and rises from the head of the Toltar Valley, the upper part of the glacier almost certainly not reached previously by mountaineers. The odds would be stacked against them as October is generally far too late for climbing big mountains in Pakistan.
After more than two weeks of acclimatization, in clear but cold weather they climbed a difficult snow/ice/mixed spur on the far-left side of the face, with two bad bivouacs, before stopping early on the third day at a comfortable site on the crest of the southwest ridge. Next day, seven hours of hard work through inconsistent snow took them to the summit. On the fourth day they returned to their 4,100m base camp, downclimbing and rappelling the route of ascent.
Mount Robson (3,954m)
Emperor (northwest) Face - Running in the Shadows (2,300m, US VI, M6 AI5 A0),
Ethan Berman (USA) and Uisdean Hawthorn (UK). September 30 to October 1 for the ascent.
Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the Emperor Face the Rockies' biggest mixed wall. There were already five routes or variations on this face, the first, in 1978, by Jamie Logan and Mugs Stump. However, this new route follows a conspicuous gully system right of the 2010 Kruk-Walsh route and was climbed in excellent style: Berman and Hawthorn were only the second team (and the first for almost 40 years) to climb a new line on the face, and reach the summit, without using a helicopter for the approach or descent.
The pair walked 20km from the roadhead to the mountain (and later back again), bivouacked below the face, then climbed 1,800m to the Emperor Ridge, where they stopped for a second bivouac after 19 hours of movement. All technical climbing was on new terrain, with the hard pitches through thinly iced, steep rock barriers that often had a very Scottish feel. Next day, in poor weather with bad visibility, they made a complex one-kilometre traverse along the west flank of the Emperor Ridge to gain the summit, where they bivouacked once more before embarking on a 3,000m descent of the Kain Route.
2020 SIGNIFICANT ASCENTS
Der Fliegende Hollander
Evgeny Glazunov, Elena Panova and Anatoly Syshchikov (Russia)
First ascent of Der Fliegende Hollander (800m, 1,100m of climbing, 22 pitches, 6c) on the southwest buttress of Pik Mechta (2,590m) in the South Muysky Ridge of Russian Siberia
Pik Trud (4,636m)
Kirill Belotserkovskiy and Grigoriy Chshukin (Kazakhstan)
A new route (1,200m 5B 6b M6 WI5) on the west face of Pik Trud (4,636m) in the Zayliyskiy Alatau, Tien Shan, Kazakhstan
Sani Pakush (6,951m)
Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer (France)
First ascent of the south face and southwest ridge - Revers Gagnant (2,500m, M4+ WI4+ 90°) - of Sani Pakush (6,951m)
K6 Central (7,155m)
Jeff and Priti Wright (USA)
The first ascent of K6 Central (7,155m) in the Tagas Group of the Pakistan Karakoram, via the summit of K6 West (7,040m), by the southwest face and west ridge (2,000+m, 80°). Jeff and Priti Wright (USA) made six bivouacs on the ascent.
Daddomain West (6,296m)
Yuikeung Ho, Siyuan Huang and Xiaohua Yang (China)
First ascent of Daddomain West (6,296m) in the Minya Konka Range, Sichuan, via the route Good-bye Happiness (1,400m, WI3 M3 75°) on the northwest face.
Ushba South (4,710m)
Archil Badriashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze (Georgia)
A new direct route (1,700m, 6A/6B, VI/VII A4) through the headwall on the northwest face of Ushba South (4,710m), Caucasus, Georgia
Mount Robson (3,954m)
Ethan Berman (USA) and Uisdean Hawthorn (UK)
First ascent of Running in the Shadows (2,300m, US VI, M6 AI5 A0) on the Emperor Face of Mount Robson (3,954m), with one bivouac.
Neptuak Mountain (3,241m)
Brette Harrington and Tony McLane (Canada)
First ascent of The Hammer and the Dance (750m, 5.11c X) on the northeast face of Neptuak Mountain (3,241m), Canadian Rockies, with one bivouac. Awful rock and bad pro, leading to runout scary climbing, made this a challenging climb.
Cerro Redondo (1,850m)
Karla Barria, José Navarro, Gonzalo Vasquez, Eduardo Weber (Chile) & Antonia Aldunate, Nicolas Secul (Chile) and Seb Pelletti (Australia)
Two new routes on the remote south face of Cerro Redondo (1,850m), Sierra Baguales, Chile: Painakin (800m, WI4) & Corta Corriente (800m, WI5).
Aguja Standhardt (ca 2,700m)
Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva (Belgium)
First ascent of El Flechazo on the east face of Aguja Standhardt (ca 2,700m), finishing up Exocet (850m to the summit, 7b M3 WI5+), with two bivouacs using lightweight inflatable portaledges.
Torre Egger (2,850m)
Brette Harrington, Quentin Lindfield Roberts and Horacio Gratton
First ascent of MA's Vision (950m, 7b+ 90°) nine-pitch (around 400m) variation to Titanic on the lower east pillar of Torre Egger (2,850m), climbed free in 2019 by Brette Harrington and Quentin Lindfield Roberts to join Titanic; completed in 2020 to the summit via the upper half of Titanic by Harrington, Roberts and Horacio Gratton, this time with a three-pitch variant to the original variation, and some aid. Two bivouacs.
Aguja Standhardt (ca 2,700m)
Matteo Bernasconi, Matteo della Bordella, and Matteo Pasquetto (IT)
First ascent of Il Dado è Tratto (600m, 7b A1) on the north face/north ridge of Aguja Standhardt (ca 2,700m), sharing upper section with Festerville. Two bivouacs. One bail bolt was placed to retreat from a crack too iced to climb.
Aguja Saint-Exupéry (ca 2,550m)
Luka Krajnc and Luka Lindic (Slovenia)
First ascent of Mir (700m, 7a+ A3 70°) on the south face of Aguja Saint-Exupéry (ca 2,550m), finishing up Le Petit Prince, with two bivouacs.
Cerro Negro Pabellón (6,157m)
Luco Badino, Chicho Fracchia and Martin Hildage (Argentina)
First ascent of the southeast face of Cerro Negro Pabellón (6,157m), Cordillera Frontal, Chile, to the eastern summit plateau at 6,025m (1,200m, D+, generally 70°, 26 hours round trip from a camp below the wall after a three-day approach).
Pyramid Peak (2,295m)
Ben Dare (New Zealand)
First ascent of Frost Flower (1,200m, M5 WI4) on the south face of Pyramid Peak (2,295m), Darrans, New Zealand, solo.
Rory Harrison (Iceland resident) and Bjartur Týr Ólafsson (Iceland)
First ascent of End of the Line (680m of climbing, M5 AI4+) on the southeast face of Skardhatindar (1,381m), Öræfajökull, Iceland.
Alps & Dolomites
Brèche Perdrieux, between the Pointe Orientale (3,348m) and Pointe Centrale (3,307m)
Luc Mongellaz, Manu Pellissier and Jessy Pivier (France)
First ascent of The Fridge (900m of climbing, 5c M5 WI5) on the north face of Brèche Perdrieux, the col between the Pointe Orientale (3,348m) and Pointe Centrale (3,307m) on the Epéna, Vanoise Alps.
- alpinemag.fr (in French)
Northern rim of the Valtournenche Valley
Francois Cazzanelli and Francesco Ratti (Italy)
First winter traverse around the northern rim of the Valtournenche Valley, Valais Alps, Italy, linking the Furggen Chain, Matterhorn, Grandes and Petites Mirailles (20 summits, 51km, 4,800m of ascent, and three bivouacs)First winter traverse around the northern rim of the Valtournenche Valley, Valais Alps, Italy, linking the Furggen Chain, Matterhorn, Grandes and Petites Mirailles (20 summits, 51km, 4,800m of ascent, and three bivouacs).
Piz Badile (3,308m)
David Hefti and Marcel Schenk (Switzerland)
Several ascents of ephemeral lines on the northeast face of the Piz Badile (3,308m), Bregaglia Alps, Switzerland, including the first ascent of the 800m Amore Supercombo, linking Amore di Vetro (M5 R 80°) and Nordest Supercombo (M7 R 80°). A serious route with very long runouts completed comfortably in one day. However, nearly all the ground had been climbed at least once before.
Third Pala di San Lucano (2,355m)
Martin Dejori, Titus Prinoth, and Alex Walpoth (Italy)
First ascent of Guardian of Dreams (1,150m, 34 pitches, VIII+ A0, seconded free at IX) on the south face of the Third Pala di San Lucano (2,355m), Dolomites, Italy, with three bivouac.
Rochetta Alto di Bosconero (2,412m)
Mirco Grasso (Italy) and Alvaro Lafuente (Spain)
First ascent of Apus (ca 840m of climbing, UIAA V M6+ AI5), an ephemeral mixed/thin-ice climb on the northwest face of the Rochetta Alto di Bosconero (2,412m), Zoldo Dolomites, Italy
David Bruder and Martin Feistl (Germany)
First ascent of Stalingrad, Grubenkarspitze, Karwendal (1,000m, WI7 M8 A1)
Luka Lindic (Slovenia) and Ines Papert (Germany)
First ascent of Limited in Freedom (800m, WI6 M6) on the north face of the Sagwand (3,227m) in the Zillertal Alps, Austria.
Other ascents that do not entirely meet the Piolets d'Or criteria but were highly notable during the year include:
Pik Communism (7,495m)
The second winter ascent of Pik Communism (7,495m) via a new route – Barca – on the north face by a large team from Russia and Kyrgyzstan [ca 2,500m, 90°, fixed ropes on the first 1,000m]
El Chilano Grande
Silvia Vidal (Catalan)
First ascent of Sincronia Magica (1,180 m, A3+ 6a+) on the west face of the west top of El Chilano Grande in the Aysén Region of Chile, solo. Fixed the first 180m then spent 33 days on the wall in capsule style. Hand drilled bolts for belays.
Pared de la Plata
First ascent of Bailando con la Lluvia (700m, 16 pitches, 7a) on the Pared de la Plata, Northern Patagonia, Chile, by an American-Belgian-Chilean team, which made a six-day approach using machetes, then fixed ropes to half-height during unsettled weather. One hand-drilled bolt placed.
First free ascent in a continuous push of Space Vertigo (8a) on the north face of the Cima Ovest by the original Italian authors of the route. Bolts for main belays, but none used for protection, led to runout obligatory 7b climbing.
Gross Ruchen (3,137m)
Dani Arnold and Roger Schaeli (Switzerland)
First ascent of Egidius (1,300m WI6+ M7) on the north face of Gross Ruchen (3,137m), Glarner Alps, Switzerland. Climbed in one day after two days of preparation. Bolts used for some points of protection and main belays.