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Piolets d'Or 2012: the Slovenians Luka Strazar and Nejc Marcic together with the Americans Steve Swenson, Mark Richey and Freddy Wilkinson.
Photo by Gughi Fassino
Piolets d'Or 2012: Robert Paragot receiving the "Walter Bonatti" Lifetime Achievement Award from Kay Rush
Photo by Gughi Fassino

Piolets d'Or 2012: K7 West and Saser Kangri II


The Piolet d'Or 2012 was awarded to two ascents, K7 West in Pakistan climbed by the Slovenians Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar, and Saser Kangri II in India climbed by the Americans Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson. The ascent of Torre Egger in Argentina by Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied received a special mention, while Robert Paragot from France received the "Walter Bonatti" Lifetime Achievement Award.

The XX Piolets d'Or was celebrated in Courmayeur last night and the international jury, presided by Michael Kennedy and comprised of Valeri Babanov, Alberto Inurrategi, Ines Papert, Liu Yong and Alessandro Filippini, awarded the prestigious golden ice axe to two ascents: the 6615m high K7 West in Pakistan climbed over a three day period by the young Slovenians Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar, and the 7518m high Saser Kangri II in India, explored by the American alpinists Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson. In addition, the jury gave a special mention to the ascent of Torre Egger in Argentina by Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied.

The Jury underlined that "By celebrating bold and adventurous alpinism, the Piolets d’Or hopes to inspire current and future generations of climbers to approach the mountains with passion, respect and humility. To this end, the jury has decided to highlight two of the six nominated ascents, not in a spirit of competition but to encourage a sense of shared purpose and common values among the climbing community world wide."

K7 West (6,615m), Pakistan
This three-day alpine style ascent of the previously unclimbed north-west face via a 1,600m sustained mixed route was the third ascent of this famous summit in the Charakusa valley. This young team took their experience of climbing in their home mountains of Slovenia on their first trip to the Himalaya, and used exceptional judgement and commitment on this highly technical climb. The route involved a strong element of exploration and was carried out in minimalist style by a team of non-professional climbers.
by Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar, Slovenia

Saser Kangri II (7,518m), India
The ascent of Saser Kangri II - the second highest previously unclimbed mountain in the world - is an example of classic exploratory alpinism and committed alpine style climbing at high altitude. The summit was reached via the steep 1,700 metre south-west face after four days of ascent and three bivouacs with the main difficulties concentrated in the upper part of the climb. A wealth of experience enabled the team to take a very minimal lightweight alpine style approach in achieving the first ascent of the peak.
by Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson, USA

A third ascent has been given a special mention by the jury.
Torre Egger (2,850m), Argentina
This ascent of Torre Egger achieved a new level for technical ice climbing in an alpine environment. The ephemeral line is a hugely creative and imaginative route, and was only possible due to the team’s opportunism. A few days after the climb’s nomination, Bjorn-EIvind Aartun was tragically killed in an ice climbing accident in Norway, along with Stein-Ivar Gravdal. Aartun’s partner from Torre Egger, Ole Lied, was unable to attend the 2012 Piolets d’Or. The organisers, jury, and the rest of the nominees express their sympathy and support for Ole and the entire Norwegian climbing community.
by Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied, Norway

K7 West (6,615m), Pakistan
Luka Strazar and Nejc Marcic
Meru Central (6,310m), India
Conrad Aker, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin
Pik Pobeda (7,439m), Kyrgyzstan
Denis Urubko ande Gennady Durov
Saser Kangri II (7,518m), India
Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddy Wilkinson.
Torre Egger (2,850m), Argentina
Ole Lied and Bjorn Eivind-Aartun
Xuelian North-East (6,249m), China
Ales Holc, Peter Juvan and Igor Kremser

JURY 2012
Michael Kennedy
(USA, alpinist), President
Valeri Babanov (Russia/Canada, alpinist)
Alberto Inurrategi (Spagna, alpinist)
Ines Papert (Germany, alpinist)
Liu Yong (China, alpinist)
Alessandro Filippini (Italy, journalist)






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