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Darmush (aka Garmush, 6244m) in the central Hindu Raj, Pakistan. The left red line shows the route climbed up the west ridge in alpine style by the Korean team in 2007; their climb–the third ascent of that ridge–won the 2007 Piolet d’Or Asia. Two members of the 2007 summit team had attempted the peak in 2004. The mountain was first climbed in 1975 via the west ridge by Austrians Peter Baumgartner, Karl Mahrer and Franz Osterreicher, who placed one camp above base camp. The west ridge was repeated in 1977 by Japanese for the second ascent of the mountain. The Korean report on this expedition is sketchy, but the red line on the right appears to be a prior attempt, possibly on the unnamed Pt. 6150m. [Photo] Courtesty of Tamotsu Nakamura

The second Piolet d’Or Asia took place in Seoul, Korea, over November 1-2 and provided many onlookers with a somewhat surprising result. The Asian equivalent of the “Golden Ice Axe” has come about thanks to a collaboration between Montagnes Magazine, which with the GHM inaugerated the famous French award ceremony that has now been running a dozen years, and the Korean magazine, Men and Mountain. Grivel always has donated the ice axe, and the first Asian award, presented in November 2006, went to Sergey Samoilov and Denis Urubko from Kazakhstan for their new route, alpine style, on the northeast face of Manaslu (8163m). People were happy with that result.

Samoilov and Urubko were once again in Seoul this November, nominated for their ascent of the Japanese route on the north ridge of K2 (8611m). They were one of four teams that made the final short list. Joining them was the Japanese team, which was led by Osamu Tanabe and made the first winter ascent of the south face of 8516-meter Lhotse (without summit) in Nepal’s Kumbu, and two Korean teams, an expedition led by Un Hong-gil, which successfully climbed the south face of Lhotse Shar (8400m) in May, and a five member team led by Shim Gwon-sik, which made an ascent last July of 6244-meter Darmush in the Pakistan Hindu Raj.

On the eight-man jury this year were Oliver Moret, deputy editor of Montagnes Magazine, Kim Young-gon, editor of Man and Mountain, Im Duck-yong, one of the founders of the Asian Piolet d’Or, Jida Jhang, editor of the Chinese magazine Shanye, Lim Sung-muk, also from Men and Mountain, Kim Chang-ho, a well-known Korean mountaineer, Park Eun-sik, a Korean environmentalist, and presiding over all these was the Chairman Tamotsu Nakamura, a well known Japanese explorer and editor of the Japanese Alpine News.

Samoilov and Urubko arrived late below the north side of K2, hoping to climb a new route. In the end the weather prevented anything but a repeat of the Japanese route on the North Ridge, the first time this route has been climbed in eleven years, and by far the latest in the year that K2 has ever been summited–the pair reached the top on October 2 in awful conditions.

Osamu Tanabe had made two previous attempts to climb the south face of Lhotse in winter and on December 27, 2006 reached the summit ridge, just 41 meters below the highest point, with Pemba Choti Sherpa and Toshio Yamamoto. Fatigued, late in the day, they reluctantly turned back from this point. Um Hong-gil, adding more summits above 8000-meters to his already vast tally, had also attempted Lhotse Shar on previous occasions. This time he successfully reached the summit on May 27 with Mo Sang-Hyun, Byun, Sung-ho and Pasang Namgyal Sherpa. Their route on the south face was partially new, being an important variant to the 1984 Czeckoslovak Route, starting left of the couloir attempted by Beghin and Profit in 1989, crossing it low down, and then following the rib left of the Czechoslovak Route to join it at 7300-7400m.

Darmush is a little known peak in the central Hindu Raj south of the Chiantar glacier and had already been climbed twice prior to 2007. Approaching via Yasin and Darkot, Shim Gwon-sik, Kwang Yong-sun, Joo Min-su reached the summit via the west ridge–a mixed climb with shattered rock–on July 7. This was the third ascent of the ridge, which had been climbed in 1975 by Austrians and again two years later by Japanese.

After some considerable debate the jury, which was not unanimous in its decision, voted for the Darmush ascent, mainly because it was the only route that had been climbed in alpine style.