Sunday, 26 April 2009

Piolet d'Or & and meeting Bonatti

Simon Anthamatten & Ueli Steck Strikes GOLD

The Swiss super alpinist duo strikes a well deserved double header at the new version of the controversial Piolet d'Or. The Spirit of alpinism award was given the Swiss (an the rest of the rescue team) duo for there truly heroic efforts to rescue fellow climber Inaki Ochoa high on Annapurna south face in 2008. I think this is a great signal to the alpine climbing community and the best part of the new Piolet d'Or. Then they along with two other of the six nominated teams received the Piolet d'Or for there first accent of the north face of Tengkapoche 2000 meter M7 WI5 6a/A0. The jury did a "new thing" by awarding all teams meeting the jury's criteria the Piolet d'Or. Of this we can think what we want but Peter Habeler made a point of wanting the Piolet d'Or not to be a competition and therefore he thought it was right to award all three expeditions. To Simon and Ueli I can only say CHAPEAU! Well deserved! And good luck in Alaska Simon.

I was present on night in Courmayeur and one in Chamonix and the Piolet d'Or is a press event and not so much of an spectator event for alpinists unless you are invited as a nominee. The main part of the event was quite lame and too long but it was a good mix of old and new hippies all lead by Doug Scott on the dance floor.

I don't think an event like the Piolet d'Or has any real impact on alpinism as all forms of performance judging in alpinism is kind of crazy. We all climb for different reasons and we all have different goals with our accents. I personally think that St├ęphane Benoist and Patrice Glairon Rappaz accent of the mighty south face of Nuptse was as good as any of the winners but they where dismissed by the jury as they did not go to the summit. Well who gives a fuck about a snow slog to the summit if you are there to do a hard technical route up a huge face. Plus I think it would have been good to promote a great judgement call not pushing for the summit and risking to die or put other at risk by needing assistance.

Any way it was fun to meet some of the best climbers from the past and the present. Meeting Walter Bonatti will be a memory for life as well as talking to Ricardo Cassins son. Cassin was the expedition leader of the 1958 Italian G4 expedition who made the first of only 5 accents of G4 and since I'm heading to G4 this was a truly nice experience.