ExWeb interview with Pavle Kozjek, part 1: Alpine style is the future but no need to focus only on lesser peaks

Posted: Feb 26, 2007 04:02 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) Piolet d'Or jury took Marko and Boris, but the people voted Pavle. So what is his take on the Golden ice axe award? ExWeb caught up with Pavle Kozjek to check.

According to Pavle, there is still much to do on the highest peaks on Earth. And he wished he could have done something about it this year, if only he had more time and money.

ExplorersWeb: Honestly, did you expect to be awarded at the Piolet DâOr?

Pavle: Well, in a certain way I did expect a prize, since my approach was something new, at least as far as new routes on 8000ers is concerned. I'd like to continue in the same style in the future, if possible. As for being the publicâs favorite I was also awarded by ExplorersWeb, and I think it may have had some influence, since I assume many people click on your page.

ExplorersWeb: Whatâs your opinion on the other climbs nominated for the awards?

Pavle: All nominated ascents were good. Maybe I missed some climbs done in other mountain ranges, such as Alaska or Patagonia

ExplorersWeb: But selecting very different climbs for the prize has been a subject of controversy in latter years. In fact, a mixed route on Patagoniaâs big walls is rather different to a climb such as, for example, yours on Cho Oyu Also, the range gets even wider if the nominated climbs have been done in different styles.

Pavle: Indeed, it's really hard to compare. Perhaps the award should be divided into different categories: Himalaya, other big walls, etc. But about style, there's nothing to change: I see fast and light alpine style as the future. Improving man's ability (both mental and physical) should be the key to select a climb as remarkable.

ExplorersWeb: Do you agree with the juryâs decision about the winners?

Pavle: Yes, I think that Marko and Boris deserved the prize. Marko is at the moment one of the worldâs leading climbers and "ideologists" of the alpine style I just mentioned. And I like very much the fact that aesthetic criteria (referring to a beautiful mountain and/or route) are also becoming important in order to select climbs. It should stay like that.

ExplorersWeb: Some alpine-style fans tend to focus on lower, difficult peaks â" and avoid 8000ers instead. Some even think there is nothing left to be done on the highest mountains. But both you and Urubko-Samoilov were nominees for new routes on Cho Oyu and Manaslu. Both were new routes opened alpine style, on 8000ers. So, do you confirm there is still new routes and cool climbs awaiting on the âGreat 14â?

Pavle: About other similar routes on 8000ers, first I need to do some more research on each mountain. Yet I can see a number of options for new routes, and I am sure there are more I still donât know. So, I think it's not really necessary to focus only on lower peaks. But the choice there (between 6000 and 7900m) is much wider, that's true.

ExplorersWeb: Do you think the publicâs award at the International Piolet dâOr will help you somehow to get support for future climbs?

Pavle: Well, I don't expect a special support: â" because of my job and family I don't have much time to work with sponsors... Anyway, maybe we will be able to find a common language; Grivel and Millet seem interested.

ExplorersWeb: Speaking of future climbs, do you plan a further Himalayan climb in the near future?

Pavle: I had a plan for Karakorum this summer, but it has been postponed due to above mentioned reasons. So most probably Iâll climb in the Andes again in June.

ExplorersWeb: OK, imagine an ideal world with plenty of time and money. If you could climb whatever you liked, without funding or time restrictions, what would you like to do?

Pavle: My choice "without limits"? Maybe a route in the same style to one of 8000er in Karakorum â" in other words, Iâd go for my recently postponed plan. Besides lack of time, considering such kind of expeditions pose also a financial problem for me. In Slovenia, due to some fulsome and inflated climbing stories now it's hard to find a place in media. People are just expecting sensations... I don't need to give more details... The fact is, I don't like to sell myself at any price, but I have nothing against showing the quality of the climbs I do.

Tomorrow part 2, final: Nangpa La

Marko Prezelj and Boris Lorencic were awarded the 16th Piolet d'Or in Grenoble, France on January 26. The Slovenian climbers opened a 1950m new route in alpine style on Chomolhari's NW pillar. The Slovenians' was the first ascent on the NW edge of the 7326m Tibetan peak - first summited in 1937. The attending public disagreed with the jury, and chose Pavel Kozjek, also Slovenian. Pavle was nominated for a new route on Cho Oyu (8201m), opened in a solo single push which took less than 15 hours. Pavle was also the first person to submit images of the Tibetan pilgrims shot at Nangpa La by Chinese border guards. His feat was awarded Best of ExplorersWeb last year.

The prestigious Golden Ice Axe has been the source of much controversy in recent years. Climbers have objected to the award's alleged politics and comparisons of different disciples, such as low altitude technical climbs and high altitude mountaineering.

In 2005, American Steve House criticized the prize for going to Russian Jannu North face climbers. Steve got the prize the next year awarded by new jury members, including British climber Stephen Venables. This year's winner, Slovenian Marko Prezelj, in turn was part of an expedition led by Steve House in 2004.

Last year, the mixed team of Cerro Torre rebels Ermanno Salvaterro, Alessandro Beltrami and US resident Rolando Garibotti asked for their nomination to be withdrawn, stating that Piolet dâOr is a subjective award, pitting climbers against each other.

And only a few weeks ago, co-founder Groupe d'Haute Montagne (French High Mountain Group) left the award. The GHM climbers had represented the prizeâs body of reference and moral caution, while Montagnes Magazine was in charge of communication and event organization.

Jury members this year (each with one vote) were (climbers): Americans Steve House and Vince Anderson, latest award-winners for a new route on Nanga Parbat's Rupal face; Swiss Michel Piola, Piolet d'Or in 1992 for a new route on Torres del Paine; Frenchman Christian Trommsdorff, nominated last year for a traverse on Chomo Lonzo; and Russian Yuri Koshelenko, awarded in 2003 for the opening of Nuptse East's south pillar with Valery Babanov.

Other jury members were (media): Italian Vinicio Stefanello, journalist with PlanetMountain.com; Montagnes magazine staff; and Korean Im Duck Yong, journalist and founder of the Asian edition of Piolet d'Or.

More on Pavle's new solo express route on Cho Oyu

Slovenian Pavle Kozjek opened a new route on the southwest face of Cho Oyu, in a 14.5-hour single-push ascent from ABC to the top - the only climb outside the normal route this season according to Miss Hawley. But Pavle was also the one to submit the first images of the Nangpa La shootings, effectively negating the Chinese official statements that nothing had happened.

"The new Slovenian route follows a line left of the Yamanoi route," Pavle reported to ExplorersWeb.com last week. "After climbing for 1100 meters on the face (V, 50-60 deg.), the route joins the Polish ridge for 900 meters."

"The crux was an icefall at 7200 meters, just below the Polish ridge, that I overcame by climbing a rock outcrop (V-degree) on its right side."

"I set off from ABC at 3:30 am in the morning and reached the Polish ridge before 10:00 am. I climbed extremely light: 3 thermo bottles of drink, 6 power gels, spare gloves, a bivouac sac and a small camera. Once on the ridge my progress was slowed down due to poor conditions (deep snow). I reached the top at 6:00 pm, and then descended via the normal route to C2 (7000 m)."

"I spent a few hours in one of the abandoned tents in C2, and then headed down to BC, arriving there before noon the next day."

Pavle started out on the climb together with his team mates; they however reached the summit one day later, and through a slightly different route of ascent - traversing from the Polish ridge to the normal route on the west side.

More on Pavle's climbs:

Pavle Kozjek is not an 8000+ meter peak regular - it's just that all his visits to the worldâs giants have ended up successfully, and more.

In 1986 Pavle climbed Pakistan's Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II in a total of five days. In 1989 he opened (with Andrej Stremfelj) a new route on Shisha Pangmaâs south face, in alpine style; in 1997 Pavle became the first Slovenian climber to summit Everest without supplementary oxygen; and in fall 2006- on his latest trip to the Himalayas - Pavle left the above mentioned brand new route on Cho Oyu.

Still, Pavle's favorite playground remains the Peruvian Andes, where he has applied his fast, lightweight style to open a number of hard new routes on Chacraraju, Huascaran, Siula Grande, Chopicalqui, etc.

#Mountaineering #Opinion #feature #interview

"About other similar routes on 8000ers [...] I can see a number of options for new routes, and I am sure there are more I still dont know. So, I think it's not really necessary to focus only on lower peaks." Image courtesy of Anna Piunova/Mountain.ru (click to enlarge).
"All nominated ascents were good," said Pavle. "Marco and Boris deserved the prize [...] Indeed, it's really hard to compare. Perhaps the award should be divided into different categories: Himalaya, other big walls, etc." Image of Pavle, Marko and Boris (left to right) courtesy of Anna Piunova/Mountain.ru (click to enlarge).
"My choice "without limits"? Maybe a route in the same style to one of 8000er in Karakorum in other words, Id go for my recently postponed plan. Besides lack of time, considering such kind of expeditions pose also a financial problem for me." Self-portrait on Cho Oyu courtesy of Pavle Kozjek (click to enlarge).

Visit our new website