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Piolet d’Or 2004: List of nominees
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Dec 28, 2004 13: 14 EST
ExplorersWeb is not the only media selecting the most remarkable adventures of the year. Planet Mountain has published the nominees for the 14th edition of the Piolet d’Or, something like the Oscars of Alpine-Climbing, awarded by the French Montagnes Magazine.
The Piolet d’Or (Golden Ice-axe) is an international award intending to prize the best climbs of the year. Their criteria stick in general to “alpine” parameters. The candidates are most often small teams opening new routes on isolated mountains. Alpine style, new lines and solo climbs score high.

The name of the winners will be published on February 25 in Grenoble (France). Until then you can pick your own personal favorite among the following six candidates:

1. ‘Linea di Eleganza’, the Line of Elegance, a new route opened last February by Italians Elio Orlandi, Luca Fava and Horacio Codo on the NE face of Fitz Roy (Patagonia). Difficulties up to VI, 6c/A3, M7. The 1450 meters-long route was opened in eight days and six nights on the wall.

2. 'Johan's route', the new route to the impressive South face of Aconcagua, opened by Slovenian climber Tomaz Humar along with Ales Kozelj. The new line includes overhanging ice sections and was climbed in December 2003, very early in the season. The new line (2500m. long) was opened in alpine style, along six days on the wall, overcoming difficulties up to 6b/A2, 100° on ice, M6. (Check ExWeb debrief in the links section)

3. The new direct Russian Route to the then unclimbed Jannu North Face (7710m), by the Russian team led by Alexander Odintsov. Alexandre Ruchkin and Dmitry Pavlenko were the first to summit, although they were part o an 11-member team who put siege to the mountain for 50 days, including several nights on the wall over 7000 meters high in extreme conditions. The Russian line raises 2500 meters up a sheer wall, including sections up to 6b/A3+, M6. (Check ExWeb debrief in the links section.)

4. 'Arctic Rage', a partially new route, opened by Americans Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore on the East face of Moose’s Tooth (3150m) in the Alaska Range. The pair followed at first a route opened in 1981 by Jim Bridwell and Mugs Stump, and afterwards traversed to a new way. The climb was performed at the second attempt, during three days of ascent in pure alpine style. The graduation of the 1500meters-long route is VI, A2, ice 6+

5. The fifth candidate is a last/minute addition: Jean Christophe Lafaille solo ascent to the South Face of Shisha Pangma (8046m) in Tibetan Himalayas. Jean Christophe summited on December 13 without O2 through a variation which begins on the direct couloir climbed by Victor Sanders and Andy Parkin (the route was also attempted last year by Simone Moro along with a Polish team), and ends on the British route opened by Scott-MacIntyre-Baxter-Jones. The resulting line of ascent is graduated up to VII, 75° on ice. The final summit bid took five days; including two nights at 7100m.This is the only mention of a 8000er climb, and the only French candidate.

6. Last but not least is Steve House and his speed climb of a new route on the SW face of K7, in the Karakorum. Steve made the second ascent to the 6934m peak, opening a new line, summiting and returning to BC in a total time of 41 hours. The route was 2700m long and included sections up to 5.10, 80° on ice, M6+, A2. (Check ExWeb debrief in the links section.)

Image of the Russian team climbing Jannu North face, courtesy of Mountain.ru - check the site also for a video of the climb.
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The Spirit of Adventure

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