Over the last few years the Piolets D’Or event has come under quite a bit of fire. So when Nick and myself found out a couple of months ago that our ascent of Chang Himal had been nominated I think my initial feelings were firstly very surprised, pretty chuffed but also maybe a small bit sceptical. Looking back at the week now I can safely say there was no need for any scepticism, it genuinely was a really good week, interesting, fun and very enjoyable.
It was also quite a surreal week as the whole event gets quite a bit of media interest over here so from drinking champagne on top of the Helbronner lift to cragging in the Aosta valley there were cameras everywhere. Something I’m glad I won’t have to get used to, but I’d be more than happy to get used to the amount of good food and wine that was consumed over the week! The best part of the whole event for me was meeting a lot of people who share the same passion and interest for the mountains as you do and sharing stories and future plans over a few drinks.
This year they gave out two awards, the first went to the American/Scottish team for their awesome ascent of the North Face of Xuelian West (6422m) in China. This was definitely my pick of the five nominees and I was really psyched that these guys got it, their whole trip was very inspiring, as well as Xuelian West they also made a number of other first ascent in the area during the month they spent there. The second award went to the Kazakh team and their very committing high altitude route on the South Face of Cho Oyu (8201m) in Nepal.
It’s far from the reason Nick and I both go climbing but at the same time having our ascent of Chang Himal chosen for nomination by such an experienced and respected jury, as was this years, was for me a big achievement and something I was quite proud about. I’ve read elsewhere that the Piolets d’Or is ‘struggling for identity’, OK it maybe needs a few tweaks here and there but from how I saw it as a get together and celebration of alpinism it seems just fine.
I didn’t get any pictures from the week but there’s a load of photos here http://www.pioletsdor.org/index.php?lang=en and you can see all 5 narrated films of the nominees here http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php/piolets-or