Piolets d'Or - Special Mention 2023 - First ascent of the east face of Northern Sun Spire (1,527m)

We are very delighted to announce that the 2024 edition of the “Piolets d’Or” will be held

in San Martino di Castrozza, in Trentino (Italy), on December 8th to 11th.


San Martino di Castrozza, 8th-11th Decem…

We are very delighted to announce that the 2024 edition of the “Piolets d’Or” will be held in San Martino di Castrozza, in Trentino, on December 8th to 11th.

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©Ramona Waldner

The Piolets d’Or wishes to promote female alpinism, with the aim of inspiring future generations of female climbers. It also realizes the difficulty in finding a universally accepted mechanism for doing so.

From time to time, it makes one or more Special Mentions. These are not Piolets d’Or, but a recognition bestowed on an ascent that is deemed notable for different reasons, yet still fitting with the core values of the Piolets d’Or Charter.


First ascent of the east face of Northern Sun Spire (1,527m), Renland, East Greenland, by Via Sedna. Top of face reached on August 7 and the route then rappelled.


A Special Mention is given to the women’s sailing and climbing team that made the first ascent of Via Sedna (780m of climbing, 16 pitches, 7b+ A1) on Northern Sun Spire. Starting on June 20 from La Rochelle in France on the 15m yacht Northabout, skipper Marta Guemes (Spain) and crew Caroline Dehais and Alix Jaekkel (both France), and Maria Sol Massera (Argentina), plus climbers Capucine Cotteaux (France), Caro North (Switzerland), and Nadia Royo (Spain), and photographer Ramona Waldner (Austria), spent six weeks negotiating bad weather and difficult pack ice before finally reaching the coast of Renland. Due to these delays, they had only 10 days in which to climb before having to set sail again.

Cotteaux, North and Royo spent two days climbing steep difficult terrain and fixing 300m of rope, the leader sometimes resorting to aid while the followers mostly free climbed. With one-and-a-half days now left before a predicted snowstorm, the three set off up the ropes, added four more difficult pitches, spent the night in portaledges, and the following morning, after a further six pitches of more reasonable 6a-6b, reached the upper south ridge. Natural gear was used throughout. Incoming weather persuaded them not to make the easy scramble to the summit (the top section of the 2019 first ascent route), and by the time they regained the base of the wall it was raining. After four more weeks of sailing, and total travel of 4,000 nautical miles, they were back in France.

Not only was this a fine adventure by a self-contained, international group of women, but also the expedition itself had minimal carbon footprint. It forms a representative example of relatively "low impact" expeditions.

What are the "Piolets d'Or" ?

A celebration of mountaineering

The purpose of the Piolets d'Or awards is to raise awareness about the year's greatest ascents across the world.  They aim to celebrate the taste for adventure, the bravery and sense of exploration that lie behind the art of climbing in the world's great mountain ranges. The Piolets d'Or draw their inspiration from mountaineering's rich history.  They are a celebration of a sense of partnership and solidarity, of shared experiences, and reward individual or collective achievement.

The Spirit of Modern Alpinism

More than just the recognition of a performance, the Piolets d'Or celebrates passion, spirit and values. The spirit of the Piolets d’Or draws its inspiration from the history of alpinism and the authenticity of true team spirit. The style should take precedence over the conquest of an objective.  Success is no longer about getting to the summit at all costs, employing all possible financial and technical means, (oxygen, fixed ropes, doping products, etc) or large-scale human resources (high-altitude porters or sherpas). The Piolets d’Or event encourages imagination in searching for innovative routes using a maximum of economy of means, making use of experience and respecting man and nature. The Piolets d’Or is attached to making climbing a shared and valued richness all over the world, capable of attracting the best of human ambitions whilst encompassing moral values and edifying behaviour. The Piolets d'Or event is therefore a celebration of an ethical alpinism, rich in emotion.



Les Piolets d'Or

Piolets d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award

In 2009, the first Lifetime Achievement Piolet d’Or was awarded to Walter Bonatti.  His style of mountaineering perfectly reflected the spirit of thePiolets d’Or.  He became a sort of godfather to those who would receive this award after him. In honour of the man and his spirit, it has been renamed the “Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement, Walter Bonatti Award”.

The Career Piolets d'Or was created to reward a career where the spirit has inspired the following generations, in the sense of criteria set down by the convention.
Recipients of the Piolet d'Or Career :
2009 : Walter BONATTI
2010 : Reinhold MESSNER
2011 : Doug SCOTT
2012 : Robert PARAGOT
2013 : Kurt DIEMBERGER
2014 : John ROSKELLEY
2015 : Chris BONINGTON
2016 : Wojciech KURTYKA
2017 : Jeff LOWE
2018 : Andrej ŠTREMFELJ
2019 : Krzysztof WIELICKI
2020 : Catherine DESTIVELLE
2021 : Yasushi YAMANOI
2022 : Silvo KARO

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