Piolet d'Or

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The Piolet d'Or ([pjɔ.lɛ dɔʁ], "Golden Ice Axe") is an annual mountaineering award given by the French magazine Montagnes and The Groupe de Haute Montagne since 1992. Golden Ice Axes are awarded for achievements in the previous year. It is considered mountaineering's highest honor,[1][2] and is considered to be the "Oscars" of mountaineering and climbing.[3][4] Nominations are selected by GHM and Montagnes, and the award is chosen by a jury consisting of Guy Chaumereuil (the chief editor of Montagnes when the award was inaugurated), (until 1998) Jean-Claude Marmier (president of GHM when the award was inaugurated), the current president of GHM, the current editor of Montagnes, the previous year's winners and three members invited by GHM, one of whom becomes the president of the jury.


In modern mountaineering, the style and manner of climbing take precedence over achieving the goal itself. In order to receive the Golden Ice Axe, you must first of all be a self-sufficient climber, which is associated with the use of the alpine style, which requires having your own skills and excludes the use of mountain guides, high altitude porters, fixed ropes, oxygen supporter and doping substances. The passage must be of a high technical level and the goal originality (e.g. first ascent).

Quotes from a 2006 article:

The selection of potential laureates, as well as the conditions of awarding the trophy obey a strict ethic, which is in line with the founding values of the GHM. High technical level and commitment certainly constitute the principal criteria to which the GHM members feel so attached.

The originality in the choice of the objective and the innovative nature of the manner of conducting the ascent are equally important elements of appreciation. The practice of alpinism is in effect in perpetual evolution, and this dimension should not be forgotten. It's by the crossing of certain stages that were considered impassable that mentalities have evolved, and ascents reputed to be impossible have become commonplace…

Respect for the mountains that surround us, the beauty of movement, and the spirit in which people climb those mountains are also primary conditions for the awarding of the prize. We cannot in fact pass down to future generations summits mutilated in the name of a destructive climbing style without profoundly altering the spirit itself of this activity[5]

Opposition to the award[edit]

Controversy has surrounded the award, due to the non-quantifiable nature of climbing accomplishments, and the varying interpretations of 'alpinism' and 'respect for the mountains.' The 1997 and 2005 awards were criticised due to the recipient's completing the climbs in 'heavy' style, spending large amounts of time on the ascent and leaving gear behind.

The award in 1998 was to a Russian team for a first ascent on Makalu during which two team members died. Marmier left the jury that year, explaining that "the decision of the jury has been a real disaster."[6][7]

In 2005 Ian Parnell withdrew his nomination, as did Alessandro Beltrami, Rolando Garibotti and Ermanno Salvaterra in 2006 for what might be the first ascent of the north face of Cerro Torre, and in 2008 during the selection process Garibotti asked the jury not to take into consideration the Torre Traverse first ascent he completed with Colin Haley. Marko Prezelj rejected the award in 2007 on stage to express his opposition for competition in alpinism.

2020 award[edit]

The 2020 Piolet d'Or was awarded in September 2020 during the Review of Mountain Films named after Andrzej Zawada in Lądek-Zdrój, Poland.

2019 award[edit]

The 2019 Piolet d'Or was awarded in September 2019 during the Review of Mountain Films named after Andrzej Zawada in Lądek-Zdrój, Poland. The winners were:[10]

2018 award[edit]

The 2018 Piolet d'Or was awarded on September 20–23, 2018 during the Review of Mountain Films named after Andrzej Zawada in Lądek-Zdrój, Poland. The winners were:[12]

2017 award[edit]

In April 2017 the following ascents were honored:[13]

2016 award[edit]

In March 2016 four 2015 ascents were honored:[14]

2015 award[edit]

2014 award[edit]

2013 award[edit]

This year in an unprecedented move, the Piolets d'Or jury — Stephen Venables, Silvo Karo, Katsutaka Yokoyama and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner — awarded all six of the nominated ascents with golden ice axes. The 6 winning climbs - all in the Himalaya and Karkoram mountains - were:

  • The south pillar of Kyashar (Nepal), climbed by Tatsuya Aoki, Yasuhiro Hanatani and Hiroyoshi Manome
  • The prow of Shiva (India) climbed by Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden (2nd award for each)
  • The northeast spur of Muztagh Tower (Pakistan), climbed by Dmitry Golovchenko, Alexander Lange and Sergey Nilov (Moscow, Russia)
  • The southeast ridge and south face of Ogre I (Pakistan), climbed by Hayden Kennedy and Kyle Dempster
  • The southwest face of Kamet (India), climbed by Sébastien Bohin, Didier Jourdain, Sébastien Moatti and Sébastien Ratel
  • The Mazeno ridge of Nanga Parbat (Pakistan), climbed by Sandy Allan and Rick Allen.

They also recognized Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk's fair-means ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre and David Lama and Peter Ortner's first free ascent of the line.

"2012 was an exceptional year for groundbreaking ascents. The jury struggled to reduce that list [from] six," the press release read. "...In light of the very high level of the six ascents, the jury has decided to award each of the nominated ascents a Piolet d'Or."

2012 award[edit]

The winners were:

  • Mark Richey, Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson (USA) for their ascent of Saser Kangri II (7,518m, India);
  • Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar (Slovenia) for their ascent of K7 West (6,615m, Pakistan);

A third ascent has been given a special mention by the jury: Torre Egger, Argentina, by Bjørn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied (Norway)

2011 award[edit]

The Piolet d'Or 2011 took place in Chamonix (France) from 16 to 17 April 2011.

The winners were:

  • Yasushi Okada and Katsutaka Yokoyama on the Japanese Mount Logan expedition (south-east face of Mount Logan).
  • Sean Villanueva, Nicolas and Olivier Favresse (Belgium), Ben Ditto (USA) and Bob Shepton (UK) for the "Greenland Big Walls" expedition.[20]
  • Doug Scott was awarded the 3rd Lifetime Achievement Award.[21]

2010 award[edit]

The Piolet d'Or 2010 took place in Chamonix (France) and Courmayeur (Italy) from 8–10 April 2010.

The winners were:

2009 award[edit]

The Piolet d'or 2009 took place in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France) and Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley (Italy) on the 24th and 25 April 2009.[23]

The 2009 awardees were:

2008 award[edit]

For 2008, the Piolet D'Or was canceled. The co-founders of the award decided to initiate a new process for selecting the nominees and winner, and the process could not be completed on a timely basis for 2008.[26]

2007 award[edit]

The 2007 Piolet d'Or was awarded on January 26, 2007 in Grenoble, France. The winners were:

Other finalist were:

List of earlier recipients[edit]

  • 2006 Steve House and Vince Anderson for the first rapid alpine-style ascent of the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat
  • 2005 Russian team led by Alexander Odintsov for the first direct ascent of the north face of Jannu
  • 2004 Valery Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko for an ascent on the south face of Nuptse
  • 2003 Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden for a new route on the north face of Siguniang (6250m) in China
  • 2002 Valery Babanov for a solo first ascent of Meru Central (6310m)
  • 2001 Thomas Huber and Iwan Wolf for the first ascent of the direct north pillar of Shivling (6543m)
  • 2000 Lionel Daudet and Sébastien Foissac for the ascent of the south-east face of the Burkett Needle
  • 1999 Andrew Lindblade of Australia and Athol Whimp of New Zealand for the first direct ascent of the north face of Thalay Sagar
  • 1998 Russian team from Ekaterinburg led by Sergey Efimov for the first ascent of the west face of Makalu
  • 1997 Slovenians Tomaž Humar and Vanja Furlan for a new route on the east face of Ama Dablam
  • 1996 Andreas Orgler, Heli Neswabba and Arthur Wutsher Germany for numerous new routes in the Ruth Glacier area of the Alaska Range and especially a new route on the south face of Mount Bradley
  • 1995 Francois Marsigny of France and Andy Parkin of England for the new ice and rock route up the Esperance Col on Cerro Torre
  • 1994 The youth high altitude expedition of French Alpine Club (median age 20 years) for ascents in the Pamir Mountains
  • 1993 Michel Piola and Vincent Sprungli for the ascent of the east face of Torre South del Paine in Patagonia (the name of the route is "Dans l'Oeil du Cyclone")
  • 1992 Slovenians Andrej Štremfelj and Marko Prezelj for a 3000m ascent of the South Pillar of Kanchenjunga's South Summit, 8476m, in the Himalaya

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Chavez, Nicole (30 April 2017). "Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck dies in Everest training accident". CNN. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  2. ^ McMillan, Kelley (2014-04-04). "Swiss Climber's Feat Honored Despite Lack of Proof". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  3. ^ "Scots pair win climbing's 'Oscars'". BBC News. 2013-04-22. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  4. ^ Mettler, Katie. "Ueli Steck, famed Swiss mountain climber, dead after plunging 3,280 feet near Mount Everest". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2006-06-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). 14th Piolet d'Or. URL accessed June 25, 2006.
  6. ^ Levy, Michael (2021-11-29). "A Climbing Award That May Be a Winner's Last". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-11-30.
  7. ^ Parnell, Ian (July 1, 2006). "Victors of the Unwinnable". Alpinist. Jackson, WY, USA: Alpinist Magazine. 16 (Summer 2006): 58. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  8. ^ "Catherine Destivelle laureatką Złotego Czekana za całokształt dokonań".
  9. ^ "Four "significant ascents" announced for 2020 Piolets d'Or - Alpinist.com". www.alpinist.com. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
  10. ^ "Piolets d'Or an Lama, Auer und Livingstone".
  11. ^ "Piolet d'Or Carrière dla Krzysztofa Wielickiego!".
  12. ^ "Piolets d'Or Press Release July 2018" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-08-28. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  13. ^ http://www.pioletsdor.net/presse/2017/2017-04_CP4_ENG.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  14. ^ 2016 Honoured ascents
  15. ^ 2016 - Wojciech Kurtyka at pioletsdor.net
  16. ^ 2015 - Chris Bonington at pioletsdor.net
  17. ^ 2014 - John Roskelley at pioletsdor.net
  18. ^ 2013 - Kurt Diemberger at pioletsdor.net
  19. ^ 2012 - Robert Paragot at pioletsdor.net
  20. ^ "Piolets d'Or 2011", ukc.com, 18 April 2011
  21. ^ 2011 - Doug Scott at pioletsdor.net
  22. ^ 2010 - Reinhold Messner at pioletsdor.net
  23. ^ "The 2009 recipients are..." Piolet d'Or. Archived from the original on 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  24. ^ "K2climb.net - Guide to K2".
  25. ^ 2009 Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement : Walter Bonatti
  26. ^ Griffin, Lindsay (January 23, 2008). "2008 Piolet D'Or Canceled". Alpinist. Alpinist Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  27. ^ Lambert, Erik (January 29, 2007). "Prezelj, Lorencic Win 2007 Piolet D'Or". Alpinist. Alpinist Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  28. ^ "Sharpening the Piolet d'Or: Nominations pick fast, alpine-style climbs - and civilian courage". Mount Everest dot net. ExplorersWeb Inc. Dec 12, 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-09.