Piolets d’Or for three routes on six-thousanders

Logo of the Piolets d'Or

The alpinistic music is currently not playing on the eight-thousanders, but on lower peaks. This is also demonstrated by the three groundbreaking climbs that will be awarded Piolets d’Or this year. The “Oscars of Mountaineering” will be handed out on 15 November in Briancon in the French Alps.

One Golden Ice Axe each will be given to three teams that have opened extremely challenging routes on six-thousanders. Already on the longlist, the pre-selection of the 53 “significant ascents” of the year 2022, neither tours on eight-thousanders nor on seven-thousanders had appeared, but instead 16 new routes on six-thousanders. The last Piolet d’Or for an eight-thousander ascent had been awarded in 2018 to the two Czechs Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hak, after they had climbed for the first time through the complete Southwest Face of Gasherbrum I in the Karakoram.

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Rousseau, Marvell and Cornell pull off a coup on the 7000er Jannu

Matt Cornell, Alan Rousseau and Jackson Marvell on the summit of Jannu
Matt Cornell, Alan Rousseau and Jackson Marvell (from l. to r.) on the summit of Jannu.

It’s projects like this that show that alpinism is far from dead – even if the crisis of meaning in eight-thousander mountaineering sometimes makes it seem that way. The U.S. Americans Alan Rousseau, Jackson Marvell and Matt Cornell opened a new route on the 7,710-meter-high Jannu in eastern Nepal through the extremely steep, demanding and therefore rarely climbed North Face. It was the first time the 2,700-meter-high so-called “Wall of Shadows” had been mastered in alpine style – that is, without bottled oxygen, fixed high camps, fixed ropes or Sherpa support.

“So for three years I’ve been trying to climb the North Face of Jannu in alpine style with Matt and Jackson,” Alan Rousseau writes on Instagram. “We finally got it done! In a 7 day push BC (Base Camp) to BC.” The three climbers christened their route “Round trip ticket”.

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Fatal fall on Dhaulagiri – mourning for Nadya Oleneva

Dhaulagiri in the first daylight
Dhaulagiri (in 2004)

Miracles – like last spring’s survival of Indian climber Anurag Maloo in a crevasse on Annapurna – are unfortunately the exception on eight-thousanders. On the 8167-meter Dhaulagiri, not far away, Russian climber Nadya Oleneva died in a fall yesterday. This is reported by the Russian mountaineering portal mountain.ru.

According to this information, Oleneva had set out on Friday with her Russian compatriots Roman Abildaev and Rasim Kashapov for a summit attempt without bottled oxygen. Yesterday, they climbed separately and rope-free from Camp 1 at 6,050 meters towards Camp 2 at 6,880 meters. After Roman and Rasim arrived there shortly after each other, they wondered where Elena was, who had been only a short time behind them. Rasim searched for her in vain, but spotted one of her sticks and a slide down track into the depths. The two immediately requested a helicopter rescue and descended to base camp. The helicopter could not take off until today, Sunday. Oleneva’s lifeless body was discovered at an altitude of about 6,100 meters.

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Anurag Maloo, survivor on Annapurna I: “Never take a mountain lightly”

Anurag Maloo
Anurag Maloo

“We saw last year on Manaslu and this year on Shishapangma that even the easiest mountain can become the most difficult one, depending on the weather condition or different circumstances,” Anurag Maloo tells me. “Mountaineering is not a race, it’s your own individual journey with the mountains you go to. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, whether it’s the 14 eight-thousanders or the Seven Summits or whatever. People shouldn’t feel that kind of a competitive mindset.”

The Indian mountaineer was referring to the avalanches in fall 2022 on the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal, in which the Nepalese Anup Rai and Dawa Chhiring Sherpa and the American ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson were killed. On the other hand, the avalanches of last Saturday on Shishapangma in Tibet, in which the US-American Anna Gutu and her Nepalese mountain guide Mingmar Sherpa as well as Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the USA, and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa lost their lives. Others on the ground – such as the Pakistani climber Naila Kiani – had reported a real race between the two U.S. climbers with hard bandages. Both wanted to be the first woman from the USA on all 14 eight-thousanders.

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Shishapangma: Mourning for four avalanche victims


The Chinese-Tibetan authorities have pulled the brakes. After two avalanches hit the summit zone of the eight-thousander Shishapangma on Saturday, they declared that “all climbing activities have been suspended in view of the unstable snow conditions on the mountain.” Apparently, this applies not only currently, but also for the rest of the fall season.

On Saturday, as reported, the US American Anna Gutu and her Nepalese mountain guide Mingmar Sherpa had died in a first avalanche. Their bodies had been found – unlike those of Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the U.S., and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa, who were swept away by another avalanche about two hours later. The search for the two missing people was suspended.

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Avalanche on Shishapangma: Two dead, two missing


Sad news from the eight-thousander Shishapangma: According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the American climber Anna Gutu and her Nepalese guide Mingmar Sherpa died today in an avalanche accident on the 8,027-meter-high mountain in Tibet. Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the U.S. and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa were reported missing. Apparently there is little hope of recovering the two missing alive.

Naila Kiani and Sirbaz Khan, both from Pakistan, who were also on the mountain and eyewitnessed the disaster, spoke of four dead. They abandoned their summit attempt and descended back to Camp 1. They were “very shaken and distressed” after witnessing how the avalanche swept their friends to their deaths, they let it be known via Instagram. Apparently, two avalanches had gone off at an altitude of around 7,800 meters. The four climbers ascending on the normal route had been caught by the snow masses.

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“School up – far west”: Another ceiling concreted

Concreting of the second floor slab
Concreting of the second floor slab

The construction of the school in the small mountain village of Rama in the far west of Nepal is progressing. According to Shyam Pandit, the program coordinator of the German aid organization Nepalhilfe Beilngries in the Himalayan state, the second floor slab of the second school building has now been concreted. You made it possible – through your donation for “School up – far west”. I had started the project in summer 2022. It is also supported by the Austrian top mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.

At the moment, there is relatively stable and largely dry fall weather in Humla District, where the village of Rama is located. A good time to build. In winter, if at all, only interior work will probably be possible. On the one hand, because of the precipitation and the sometimes bitter cold – for example, in winter 2021/2022, the schools were closed for two months because of the extremely low temperatures. On the other hand, because it will be no longer possible to transport materials over the makeshift pistes in snow and ice.

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Summit successes on Cho Oyu

Tibetan side of Cho Oyu
Tibetan side of Cho Oyu

The weather gods remain in favor of the commercial expedition teams this fall. After numerous summit successes on Manaslu and some on Dhaulagiri – both eight-thousanders are located in western Nepal – the first ascents of the season of Cho Oyu are also reported from Tibet today. Operator Imagine Nepal announced that eight team members led by company head Mingma Gyalje Sherpa reached thesummit of the sixth-highest mountain on earth at 8,188 meters, “just five days after crossing the Tibet border, as they were well acclimatized from their Manaslu expedition”

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