The award is something like the “Oscar of Climbers”. The Piolet d’Or is awarded year after year for outstanding climbing achievements on the mountains of the world. When this year’s golden ice axes are presented at the “Ladek Mountain Festival” in Poland on 21 September, two of the winners will no longer be able to receive them personally, but will have to be represented by family members or friends. The Austrian top climbers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer had died in an avalanche on the 3,295-meter-high Howse Peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in April, as had the 36-year-old American Jess Roskelley. David was only 28 years old, Hansjörg 34.
First ascent of Lunag Ri
Lama is posthumously awarded the Piolet d’Or for his solo first ascent of the 6,907-meter-high Lunag Ri. The technically difficult mountain lies in the Rolwaling Himal on the border between Nepal and Tibet, a good 35 kilometers as the crow flies northwest of Mount Everest. After two failed attempts in 2015 (with the US-American Conrad Anker) and 2016, Lama succeeded in climbing solo via the West Ridge to the summit in fall 2018.
Auer is also honored for a solo success. In summer 2018, Hansjörg had climbed for the first time through the 1000-meter-high West Face of the rarely attempted 7157-meter-high Lupghar Sar West in Pakistan. Will Hansjörg now shake his head in heaven at the fact that after all he will receive the Piolet d’Or after his death? In 2014, he had been very upset that he, his brother Matthias and the Swiss Simon Anthamatten had been nominated for their first ascent of the 7400-meter-high Khunyang Chhish East in the Karakoram, but in the end had gone away empty-handed.
Coup on Latok I
The third Piolet d’Or this year goes to the two Slovenians Ales Cesen (36 years old) and Luka Strazar (29) as well as the British Tom Livingstone (27) for the second ascent of the 7145-meter-high, extremely difficult Latok I in the Karakoram in August 2018 – the first ascent from the north side.