Yamanoi Yasushi and Denis Urubko receive the Piolet D’Or Asia Lifetime Award, and Piolet D’Or Asia 2011 Award.
On November 4, 2011, in Seoul, Korea, Denis Urubko and his partner Gennady Durov won the Piolets d’Or Asia for their route Dollar Rod (6b) on Pik Pobeda (7439m), which they established in August. This is Urubko’s third Piolet d’Or Asia; his 2006 climb with Sergey Samoilov on the northeast face of Manaslu (8163m) won the first presentation of the award, and Urubko’s 2009 ascent of the southeast face Cho Oyu (8201m) with Boris Dedeshko was honored with the prize as well. Additionally, Urubko and Dedeshko’s Cho Oyu ascent garnered the traditional Piolet d’Or in 2010.
The Piolet d’Or Asia began in 2006 with a partnership between Montagnes Magazine and Group de Haute Montagne (the two organizations which sponsor the original Piolets d’Or) and the Korean Magazine Men and Mountain. Its goals are similar to those of the traditional Piolet d’Or: to celebrate “ethical alpinism,” ascents with integrity and innovative routes. The Piolet d’Or Asia searches for ascents by Asian climbers that fulfill these values.
This year’s jury included members from various backgrounds. Lim Sung-Muk and Her Jung Sik, editors of the Korean magazine Men and Mountain, Yu Feng of China, Korean climber Yun dea Pyo and Kim Byun Jun, representative from the Korean Alpine Federation, joined under this year’s Chief of Jury Hiroshi Hagawara from Japan’s Rock and Snow magazine.
In addition to Urubko and Durov, Japanese climber Yamanoi Yasushi was honored with a lifetime achievement award–the second of such that the Piolets d’Or Asia has conferred. In 1998, Yasushi was the first climber to solo K2 (8611m) without oxygen. Yasushi’s climbing resume is full of first solo ascents: first solo of the southwest pillar of Fitzroy in 1990, first solo ascent of the southwest face of Cho Oyu in 1994, and the first solo ascent of K2 without oxygen in 200. He lost five fingers and all of the toes on his right foot to frostbite in an accident on Gyachung Kang (7985m) in 2002.
There were two other nominees for this year’s Piolet d’Or Asia. The Giri-Giri Boys from Japan (Fumitaka Ichimura, Ryo Masumoto and Takaaki Nagato) received nomination for their July 2011 expedition which established a new route on the East Face of Daddonmain (638om) in China. For more on their ascent, see here.
Also in the running for the award was a Korean team, led by Suk-moon Chio, for the first Korean ascent of Mount Hunter’s Moonflower Buttress. Chio, along with team members Hee-yong Park and Jong-il Park climbed the difficult route over three days.