Sir Chris Bonington is set to receive one of the most prestigious awards in mountaineering: the Piolet d’Or Career. This lifetime achievement award is now in its seventh year, and was created to reward mountaineers whose achievements have inspired successive generations. Previous winners include Reinhold Messner, Walter Bonatti and Doug Scott.
Chris will be honoured at the 23rd Piolets d’Or, which this year takes place in Courmayeur and Chamonis from 9th-12th April 2015. The event - dubbed ‘the Oscars of the mountaineering world’ - is hosted jointly by French magazine Montagnes and by the Groupe de Haute Montagne (GHM).
“The Piolet d’Or award means a huge amount to me because not only is it from my peers within the mountaineering world, but also from the GHM which is the original elite group of international mountaineers which I was invited to join a good many years ago,” Chris told the BMC. “For me, it is the most special form of recognition within the climbing world.”
A British mountaineering legend and BMC Patron, Chris Bonington was born in 1934 and counts a string of first ascents among his achievements. Career highlights include the first British climb of the Eiger’s epic North Face, 19 expeditions to the Himalayas and the publication of numerous mountaineering books.
Last year, at the venerable age of 80, he repeated his famous 1966 climb of the Old Man of Hoy sea stack in Orkney. The experience was captured in a TV feature for The One Show and in a recent Berghaus documentary. Chris, however, remains proudest of his early successes.
“I think my greatest achievement was probably in successfully leading the Everest South West Face Expedition in 1975,” he says. “It was a huge challenge and needed really good planning and organisation, and great team work for us to achieve success. In Alpine terms our first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney in 1961 stands out (with Don Whillans, Ian Clough and Jan Djuglosz). It is very satisfying to have shared in pioneering a great Alpine classic that had defied some of the best Alpinists of that time, and on one of the most remote and difficult faces in the Alps.”
This year’s Piolets d’Or celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Golden Age of Alpinism - a period of outstanding achievement in the field of Alpine mountaineering that culminated in first ascents of the Matterhorn, Aiguille Verte and Grandes Jorasses.
The 2015 awards will honour exceptional successes in alpinism over the past year, and the list of all relevant first ascents will be on the Piolets d’Or website from 8th February.
READ: Back on Stack
Read our revealing Summit interview with Chris Bonington about just how it felt to return to the Old Man of Hoy 46 years after making its first ascent.
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