Asian Piolet d'Or: And the winners are... Denis and Serguey!

Posted: Nov 10, 2006 03:12 pm EST

( At 2:06 pm Moscow time today, a short SMS delivered the news to "We've just been awarded the Asian Golden Ice-axe," Denis Urubko dispatched from Seoul. The jury in Korea chose the new route on Manaslu as the best Asian Climb of the Year. Denis and Serguey had climbed the peak's NE face in alpine style, in a single, four day push.

Golden axes swinging wild

Winning the Asian version of the Golden Ice axe must have felt sweet for the Kazakh duo. Not only are Asian climbers among the world's hardest, last year also, Denis and Serguey were awarded the International Piolet d'Or for a new route they opened on Broad Peaks SW face. That axe however went to American Steve House and Vince Anderson, a decision somewhat stirring the international climbing community:

The Kazakhs had been the only summiteers of Broad peak in 2005, climbing the 8000+ giant through a new route, on an unclimbed face, in alpine style, on sight (unscouted) and in severe conditions.

The Americans pioneered a new route on Nanga's mighty Rupal face, in alpine style. They climbed in good weather and not truly on sight (they followed Steve's 2004 route up to 7500m). The face had already been scaled that season; and good conditions also allowed a large number of summiteers on Nanga's normal route that year.

When the new jury members, including Briton Stephen Venables, finally cast their votes - some climbers and media cried politics. Denis and Serquei however, packed their bags - and went to Manaslu.

Award organizers are Korean Men and Mountain and French Montagnes magazines. Montagnes is also organizing the International Piolet d'Or.

Other nominees were a Korean team (for a climb on Indian Himalayas Thalay Sagar, 6,904m) and a Japanese expedition who opened a new route on Broken Tooths north face in Alaska.

On May 8, 2006 Kazakhs Denis Urubko and Serguey Samoilov completed a new route on the NE side of Manaslu (8163m), alpine style. A few days before, they had already reached the top via the normal route, achieving the first summit on Manaslu in three years. In 2005 Denis and Serguey were also nominated for the international Piolet dOr after a new route opened on the previously unclimbed SW face of Broad Peak.


Denis (left) and Serguey climbed the new route on Manaslu in alpine style, in one single, four day-long push (click to enlarge).

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