A Belgian-American expedition that climbed nine new big walls in Greenland and a Japanese duo that established a new route up Canada's Mt. Logan were the winners of this year's Piolets d'Or.
The six-person jury awarded a golden ice axe to Yasushi Okada and Katsutaka Yokoyama, who made the first ascent of Mt. Logan via its southeast face. The jury cited the climbers' careful planning and strict alpine style and the objective danger of the route in their decision.
The second award went to Sean Villanueva, Ben Ditto, and Nicolas and Olivier Favresse for an expedition that climbed new routes up the enormous sea cliffs of Greenland's coasts. The team sailed to the island with 75-year-old Briton Bob Shepton and started most of their climbs from his boat. They placed only one bolt over the course of the climbs, the longest of which lasted 10 days.
The Greenland expedition differed from past honorees in that it didn't involve a traditional mountain summit. In a press release, the jury said that the team's camaraderie and clean style played a factor in their decision.
"Climbing is not about numbers or statistics, but about the feeling in your gut," jury president Greg Child told Alpinist.
The Piolets d'Or are presented by the Groupe de Haute Montagne and Montagnes magazine. This is the awards' third year under a new charter after being canceled in 2008 over concerns about the nomination process.
Photo Credit: Piolets d'Or