Marko Prezelj (center) and Boris Lorencic (right) receiving the 2007 Piolet d’Or in Grenoble, France on January 26. Their ascent of Chomo Lhari (7326m) in October involved 2000 meters of varied terrain up to M6+ on the Tibet-Bhutan border. Pavle Kozjek (left), received the People’s Choice award for his solo climb on Cho Oyu, also in October. [Photo] Courtesy of Montagnes Magazine
On January 26, Marko Prezelj and Boris Lorencic won the 2007 Piolet d’Or in Grenoble, France, for their ascent of Chomo Lhari (7326m). The award came amidst controversy that is becoming a hallmark for the prize.
The Piolet d’Or was founded in 1991 by Guy Chaumereuil of Montagnes magazine and Jean-Claude Marmier of Groupe de Haute Montagne (GHM). It set out to recognize the finest alpine climb of the year, but as detailed by the article by Ian Parnell in Issue 16, “Victors of the Unwinnable”, adherence to those ideals has varied, sometimes dramatically, from year to year.
This year, Montagnes hand-selected the five finalists for 2007, disregarding the jury’s input on the nominees. In response, the GHM, the co-founding sponsor of the award, renounced its participation in the event, and the jury’s appointed president for 2007, Andrej Stremfelj, resigned. A report on the 2007 Piolet d’Or controversy is available in the January 5 NewsWire.
Prezelj, with Andrej Stremfelj, was the first recipient of the award in 1991 for climbing a new 3000-meter route on the South Pillar of Kanchenjunga. He is the second alpinist after Valery Babanov to receive the award twice–this time for an objective Prezelj dreamt about for a decade, and one he ended up leading in its entirety. The route on Chomo Lhari featured 2000 meters of varied terrain up to M6+ on the Tibet-Bhutan border, and took the Slovenian pair four days to climb and two to descend in October 2006. Prezelj and Lorencic’s bested four other finalists: Pavle Kozjek’s solo climb on Cho Oyu (8188m), which received the People’s Choice award at Grenoble and was the first 8000-meter ascent in a single day; Sergei Samoilov and Denis Urubko’s send on Manaslu (8163m), which won the regional Asian Piolet d’Or; Igor Chaplinzky, Andrej Rodiontsev and Orest Verbitsky’s new route on Shingu Charpa (5600m), which boasted 1500-meters of rock at altitude up to 5.11d; and Tim Emmett and Ian Parnell’s first ascent of the southeast pillar on Kedar Dome (6830m), which included 1500 meters of 5.11c and treacherous cornices along the summit ridge.