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Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Piolet d'or is bankrupt, by Stevie in the black Haston.

The Golden chicken award for being chicken!

The Piolet D'or reached an unprecedented low, just to surprise you. An award that is supposed to recognize ability and adventure in the mountains was given to all six candidate teams, despite the fact that there were very clear differences. Gold is a heavy metal heavier than lead but this years axe will sink in my memory hopefully never to surface. 
What exactly is this award about? Its not about money, the award is fairly worthless in itself, its clearly not about the hardest route as every year there are ascents in it that complete amateur novices are capable of. So what is it about, is it just the sham, the shizzle, the Oscars for the climbing sponsors, or the make news we now have in an industry and a sport bereft of excellence.
Piolet and Poulet are similar words, one is an axe, one is a chicken.

This year there were some at least interesting ascents which due to their diversity might have made judging a bit problematic, problematic but not impossible surely. The diversity could be simply summed up by me, as to judge between a somewhat technical modern ascent by the Russians, and a fairly stout plod up a very long ridge. If I seem patronising I am not, I just want to keep it simple. And I think it is actually that simple.    The Russians should have won, and the long plod up Nanga Parbats long ridge should have come second,  and very neatly you would have been rewarding the diversity of climbing. If one were really to have been a bit more honest the outstanding ascent of the year was the free ascent of Cerro Torre by young Lama, an ascent that is in the modern idiom. This ascent of the Iconic Tower was merely mentioned, fairy odd, but then this award is odd, full stop. You might say giving these awards is difficult, well of course it is, but either give them to the best ascents, or give them away for smiling white teeth,  and being bloody blonde. I might as well take it one step further and just say for the last few years a certain Swiss alpinist is fairly clearly king of the mountain. Will he ever do the great climb, the golden climb, that his abilities merit? Probably not as it not a Piolet d'or he is fishing for, but a bucket of money. Which Swiss am I talking about? Do you know? The Piolet d'or seems morally as well as monetarily bankrupt to me, but perhaps it is simply meaningly moronic in a sport that no longer recognizes excellence and simply fills pages with so called news, or fills halls with punters who know very little about climbing with a Piolet. Just lately a young German boy caused ripples when he flashed an 8C+/ 9a, when it should have been a Tsunami that he might have been able to financially surf to new heights. Instead it gets swamped in also ran kinda news, our sport is pathetic, but not some of its participants, they are and always will be golden. 
Kurt Diemberger got the life time  achievement award as he should, something  he was over qualified for by his first ascent of two of the 8000 meter peaks. Imagine two first ascents on two of the big 14, clearly outstanding! A very easy award that one, but things aren’t always easy, no sir, but you don't just give up like these judge did, do you, otherwise you wouldn't have become climbers in the first place. Shame on you judges, and shame on you Piolet d'or. 
Two people resigned from the Piolet d'Or, and no wonder!
There is the Piolet d'OR award and there is the Golden Piton award, and word on the street, is that  there is a new award in the offing. It's called the Butt plug of Gold, and it is to be awarded for the most tight assed sport in the world, a sport where most of its best performers are below the poverty line.