Words and photos by Piotr Drożdż
The most prestigious annual mountaineering award ceremony in the eyes of Luka Lindič
On April 11th, at the ceremony held in Courmayeur, Italy, Luka Lindič, a member of the Arc’teryx team, together with his partners Marko Prezelj and Aleš Česen were awarded the prestigious Piolet d’Or for their ascent of the north face of Hagshu in India. Luka is probably the youngest person to receive “The Oscar of Alpinism”.
This year there was no “And the Oscar goes to…” as all three nominated teams were to be awarded. Apart from the Slovenians, Golden Ice Axes went to Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold of the U.S. (for their full traverse of the Fitz Roy range, Patagonia) and Russia’s Aleksey Lonchinsky and Alexander Gukov (for a new route on the south face of Thamserku, Nepal). “I think the atmosphere of the event really benefited from the fact that the winners had been announced beforehand. It will probably get even better if the organizers manage to develop the ceremony into something more like a climbers meeting. I expected there would be more of them and I must say I was a bit disappointed because there were more journalists than climbers”, says Luka.
Each of the awarded ascents represents a bit different branch of alpinism, which was apparently the goal of the technical committee responsible for selecting the winners.
“We want to promote mountaineering ethics and present several dimensions of alpinism. We want to celebrate climbing, not to discriminate any ascent”, explained Lindsay Griffin, the president of the Alpine Club, who was involved in the process of selection. No surprise this kind of approach was well-received by the alpinists in the audience. “I think it’s important to invite climbers that make all kinds of ascents. The beauty of mountaineering lies in its diversity”, says Luka.
The 7th Piolet d’Or Career, which is also called Walter Bonatti Award, was received by 81-year-old Sir Chris Bonington, the public face of British mountaineering for almost 5 decades. Climbers, journalists and the rest of the guests were impressed by his great personality, achievements and how young at heart legendary Chris was. “I am one of the impressed by Bonington’s charisma”, admits Luka, “I believe this is the most you can get at these kind of events; to meet people that inspire you.”
The next evening all the awarded and invited climbers, organizers and journalists enjoyed a nice party at Restaurant Grand Hotel du Montenvers. Fun and interesting talks were accompanied by a splendid view of the iconic west face of Petit Dru in the background. “The atmosphere on the last evening was the best for me, it was more relaxed”, says Luka, who, to get into a completely relaxed state of mind, free-soloed 100 routes up to 7a in a day (12,5 hours to be exact) at the local crag after coming back home.