Pristine peak pioneers Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden have been awarded an unprecedented third Piolets d’Or for their bold first ascent of Gave Ding, an unclimbed mountain in a valley never before visited by westerners in far west Nepal.
Braving temperatures around 30 degrees below zero, the duo topped the previously unclimbed 6,571m high summit in October 2015, in an expedition that was sponsored by Berghaus. The announcement means that, as a team, Fowler and Ramsden have won the most prestigious award in mountaineering for a record third time. Slovenian Marko Prezelj is the only other mountaineer to have been awarded the Piolet d’Or three times (1992, 2007 & 2014), but for climbs with different partners.
Now in their 24th year, the Piolets d’Or are the most sought after awards in mountaineering and will be presented in La Grave, France, at the foot of the Meije massif, from 14-17 April. Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden first won Piolets d’Or in 2003, for opening up the North Face of Siguniang (6,250m) in China, and their second award came in 2013 for their ascent of the Prow of Shiva in India.
Mick Fowler (left) and Paul Ramsden (right) on their Gave Ding expedition. Photo: Berghaus.
Mick Fowler said: “It is flattering to have one’s climbs appreciated and to be able to look forward to celebrating fine ascents with like-minded alpinists.”
Paul Ramsden added: “It is always a pleasure to have my climbing activities recognised by my peers and a weekend of free beer in La Grave sounds excellent.”
The peak of Gave Ding is located in one of the remotest regions of Nepal, in a valley that had never previously been visited by westerners. Getting there with all equipment may have been half the battle, especially considering Paul’s bags failed to turn up at the airport after their flight to Kathmandu in Nepal, according to a blog by Mick on the Berghaus website. However, the bags arrived only a day delayed, which allowed them to drive through the night to make their pre-booked flight to Simikot in north west Nepal.
"Seldom has a trip started with such a concentrated number of ups and downs," said Mick.
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Following these shenanigans, Mick and Paul climbed the mountain by a route graded ED Sup, on the north face in a six-day push, and then descended to base camp over two days, via the west ridge and north flank. They were supported during the climb by Steve Burns and Ian Cartwright.
After returning to the UK, Mick Fowler commented on the expedition: “The Gave Ding trip was absolutely brilliant – it couldn't have been better really. The approach and ethnic action were great, we were the first westerners to see the face, and it was as inspiring as we could have hoped. The mountain was unclimbed and the route gave safe, hard climbing on an eye catching line that led straight to summit, followed by an aesthetically pleasing different descent route. And the whole thing was a real adventure in that we were operating on gut instinct more than any detailed information.”
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