The jury of the 2013 Piolets d'Or gave a special mention to American climbers Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk for their decision to strip bolts from the south-east ridge of Cerro Torre.
In January 2012 Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk climbed the southeast ridge "by fair means", removing many of the old Compressor bolts during their descent. A few days later David Lama and Peter Ortner completed a free ascent of the ridge, overcoming an even greater natural challenge.
These events forced climbers to take a closer look at the core values of alpinism. As 2013 Jury President, Stephen Venables, remarked; "over the last 20 years climbing has become more and more a 'consumer' product, where you simply pay to receive a pre-packaged predictable experience. Kennedy, Kruk, Lama and Ortner have restored Cerro Torre's southeast ridge to the realm of genuine adventure. My feeling is that this goes way beyond Cerro Torre. The relentless increase in bolting of every lump of rock in the world is seriously undermining the most basic values of mountaineering."
Over 45 years ago, in his seminal work "Murder of the Impossible", Reinhold Messner wrote that we "must search again for the limits of possibility; for we must have such limits, if we are going to use the virtue of courage to approach them."
The special mention will no doubt prove controversial, re-awakening thoughts on the pros and cons of the Cerro Torre's bolt removal. However, there appears to be no controversy with the six nominated ascents, all of which have been well received.
There is a strong British and Alpine Club presence this year at the Piolets. Two of the nominated ascents involve British climbers.
Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden's 1,200m route up the Prow of Shiva is an elegant line with an overall alpine grade of ED+. There were 25 sustained pitches on the Prow itself, between Scottish V and VII. There was a three-metre section of aid, and the odd piece of gear was hooked, otherwise the route was completely free.
The traverse of Nanga Parbat involved 18 days of extreme commitment, three of these, during the descent of the Diamir Face, without food and water. Although there were no sections more than TD or Scottish IV, above the Mazeno Gap there were several extended passages of delicate, unprotected mixed climbing on both first and second (successful) summit attempts. Summiteers Sandy Allan and Rick Allen will represent the team.
Also in Chamonix, and easy because they live there, will be Sébastien Bohin, Didier Jourdain, Sébastien Moatti and Sébastien Ratel, whose ascent of the southwest face of Kamet is nominated, a 2,000m climb at ED- with difficulties up to WI5+.
Already mentioned is Hayden Kennedy, who with Kyle Dempster will be present at the award ceremony, as their new route on the Ogre from the southeast has been nominated, a complex 2,500m line at 5.9X M6R WI5
The coveted northeast spur of Muztagh Tower took Russians Dmitry Golovchenko, Alexander Lange and Sergey Nilov 17 days to complete. The 2,000m high route had difficulties of ED M6 6a A2, finishing with a taxing descent of the north face.
Another coveted line, the goal of at least seven previous expeditions, was the 2,200m south pillar of Kyashar, one of the finest technical alpine-style climbs in Nepal last autumn. Tatsuya Aoki, Yasuhiro Hanatani and Hiroyoshi Manome (Japan) took six days to climb this elegant line to the summit at ED+ M5 5.10a.
All these ascents, carried out in alpine-style involved descents by a different route, on some occasions previously unexplored ground, adding to the level of commitment.
Apart from jury president Venables, the other members of this year's streamlined jury, all highly noted mountaineers, are Slovenian Silvo Karo, Japanese Katsutaka Yokoyama, and Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner).
The Piolets d'Or runs from the 3 to 6 April, with the main ceremony, in which Kurt Diemberger will be receiving an lifetime achievement award, taking place on the night of 5 April in Courmayeur.