Next May, at the heart of the Himalayan season, the Everest base camp will host no fewer than 58 expeditions just for the Nepalese side, that is to say approximately 600 climbers.
In 2008, 422 successful ascents have been listed on the only permitted way (Nepal) and it is a record. In 2007, they were 627 to reach the summit following both ways up. These figures show the passion for the Himalayas and its mythical routes. Fuel for the debates of the 17th Piolets d'Or.As in the Alps, the appeal of some summits generates new debates: overcrowding, fixed ropes, usage of excessive technological means. The Piolets d'Or take an interest in all the different aspects of mountaineering. They also give priority to pure mountaineering, celebrating innovation, a sense of partnership and solidarity, and rewarding the beauty of an individual or collective achievement.
During four days of random meetings in cafes or at the bottom of cliffs, the participants discovered a shared spirit of an international mountaineering that preserves exchanges, partnership and style. In addition to an awards ceremony, the Piolets d'Or celebrate a passion for pure and ethical mountaineering.
Amongst the 57 expeditions achieved in 2008, the 6 nominated expeditions meet these standards. The members of the jury, under the presidency of the English mountaineer Doug Scott, and the organisers also follow this objective: "It is not a question of reaching success at all costs, by using financial or technical means (such as oxygen, fixed ropes, Sherpas, doping products etc…). What counts is the style.Today even if the summit hasn't been reached, the expedition can be honoured if it is innovative," says Peter Habeler, member of the jury and 1st man to have reached Mt. Everest without oxygen, with Reinhold Messner in 1978.
It is a return to the roots that seduces the young generation, just as Walter Bonatti always gave priority to true adventure with minimum help. The 79-year-old Italian remains the absolute reference in the world of mountaineering.
By awarding Walter Bonatti with the first career Piolet d'Or in Courmayeur, the mountaineering world has honoured the whole Mont Blanc range, the Italians' favourite place. But above all an exceptional career and a man of belief. The images and words in Courmayeur echoed in a full auditorium, full of emotions. Walter just pronounced a few words: "Do not forget that solitude (solo climbing) develops sensitivity and our emotions."