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2021 Grit and Rock Award recipients announced

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A jury panel chaired by Victor Saunders recently announced the recipients of the 2021 Grit & Rock Award, a grant intended to bolster female participation and leadership in exploration and alpine-style ascents. Teams of any nationality that are led by, or composed mostly of, women are eligible.

This year’s winners include Sara Jaklic and Marija Jeglic; Lise Billon, Fanny Schmutz Tomasi, Maud Vanpoulle and Camille Marot; Nancy Hansen and Ralf Dujmovits; and a general grant to support female members of the Young Alpinist Team and the French National Female Alpine Team (ENAF).

A press release states that the Grit & Rock Foundation has granted a total of $50,000 to 25 female-led expeditions since Masha Gordon started the UK-based program in 2016.

Last year’s awardees, however, were not able to use their grants because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. (See the list at the end of this article for more information about those grants.)

“No trips took place,” Gordon told Alpinist in an email. “Winners were able to keep grants for future expeditions if identical [to the original objectives], and [teams] are encouraged to reapply if an objective has changed.”

Recipients of the 2021 Grit and Rock Award. [Image] Grit and Rock

Recipients of the 2021 Grit and Rock Award. [Image] Grit and Rock

A press release for the 2021 recipients lists the teams and categories:

Performance Category
–An all-female team of Slovenian alpinists, Sara Jaklic and Marija Jeglic, towards an expedition to attempt a first ascent of Chombu (6362m) in India’s Sikkim region ($2,000).
–An all-female team of French alpinists Lise Billon, Fanny Schmutz Tomasi, Maud Vanpoulle and Camille Marot, towards an expedition to attempt a first ascent in the Rolwaling Valley of Nepal ($2,400).
–A team of Nancy Hansen and Ralf Dujmovits towards an expedition to attempt a first ascent of Biarchedi I peak in Pakistan’s Karakoram region ($2,000).

Apprenticeship Grant
–General funding for female participants of the Young Alpinist Group ($2,800) renewable for two further years.
–Funding for the Spring 2021 skills building expedition of the French National Female Alpine Team (ENAF) ($2,400).

Background Information
–Sara Jaklic and Marija Jeglic are ex-members of the Young Slovenian Alpine Climbing Team, coached by Marko Prezelj. Both alpinists climb to a high standard (rock up to [5.13b]) and have competed successfully in Ice Climbing World Cups.

–Nancy Hansen has been mountain, rock and ice climbing for [more than] 20 years. She has climbed extensively in Alaska, the continental USA, Canada, Nepal, Pakistan, Bolivia, Peru, Antarctica, and many European countries. She has completed 46 routes from the 1978 cult-classic guidebook Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.

Lise Billon, Fanny Schmutz Tomasi, Maud Vanpoulle and Camille Madot are highly experienced climbers with a long list of impressive ascents. Lise and Fanny are qualified French guides, and Maud is an aspirant guide with the French National School of Ski and Alpinism (ENSA). Camille is a physician in emergency medicine with a hospital in Grenoble. Over the years, all four have climbed together, in various combinations, all over the world. Lise Billon became [the] second-ever female [to receive] a Piolet d’Or in 2016 for her ascent of Cerro Riso Patron.

–Young Alpinist Group (UK) aims to advance the next generation of world-leading UK alpinists, encouraging elite-level performance in alpinism while emphasizing adventure, ethics, style, exploration and independence. The group will actively seek to improve diversity and gender equality in alpinism. The group recruits a team for a three-year cycle and is led by Tom Livingstone, a 2019 Piolet d’Or recipient.

–[The] French National Female Alpine team (ENAF) [was] formed in 2007 on the basis of the French National Young Alpine team (FFME and ENJA). [The] current cohort of the team is the fifth one since its inception. ENAF has graduated some 35 female alpinists, with more than half going off to become guides or performing at a high level in alpinism. Its objective is to advance female performance in high mountains by providing rigorous training and expedition experience. The team is trained by two French guides, Lise Billon, 2016 Piolet d’Or recipient, and Jonathan Crison.

“The 2021 awards went to several impressive projects in the Performance category,” Saunders says in the press release. “The jury was really happy with the selection and look forward to the successful outcome of their expeditions. In the Apprenticeship Category we have decided to support two important skills-building initiatives, the French National Female Alpine team (ENAF) and female members of the British Young Alpinist Group. These programs will help ambitious young women develop their Alpine careers, and builds on previous Grit & Rock awards, such as the 2019 grant to the highly successful expedition to Kyrgyzstan by the female team of the Swiss Alpine Club where several members of the team went on to become UIAGM aspirant guides.”

Gordon is quoted, saying: “The past two years have proved to be very difficult, if not impossible, for expedition alpinism. In that context, we were pleased to see continued drive of many female alpinists. The jury was inspired by the ambition of presented projects, where the skill matched the difficulty of routes. We wish all the teams safe climbing.”

A press release for the 2020 recipients and objectives lists the following:

–Marina Popova, Nadya Oleneva and Maria Dupina for their project on an unclimbed 4818-meter peak in Kyrgystan ($3,000).
Chantel Astorga and Anne Gilbert Chase for their project in Alaska ($1,500).
–Lindsey Hamm and Nicole Lawton for their project on an unclimbed peak in Zanskar Valley ($1,500).

Natalia Martinez and Camillo Rada for their exploration project in the Southern Icefield of Patagonia ($2,000).

–Holly Rowland for a first ascent project on H-16 Peak in Haptal Valley in Nepal ($2,000).

More information about the Grit & Rock Award can be found here.

A story about the 2019 recipients can be found here.