Beyond Goodand Evil
I was in Chamonix last week with Peter Ortner to attend the Piolets d’Or award ceremony. We’d been invited because the Jury had decided to award a ‘special mention’ to us for the first free ascent of Cerro Torre and to Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk for their first ‘by fair means ascent’ during the Piolets d’Or ceremony 2013.
I’m obviously pleased with that recognition. At the same time though I’m convinced that alpinism has too much to do with arts for achievements in this field to be categorized with prices or awards. We aren’t athletes that fight over the best ascent; we are climbers and alpinists that live their ideas and dreams! That’s why I think that alpinism doesn’t need an award. Moreover, I believe that it’s impossible to rate an ascent in which one did not take part. I’ve experienced this myself multiple times. Some apparently smaller climbs in the Alps have turned out to be tougher challenges than some routes in the bigger ranges. On the other hand, there certainly are alpine undertakings, which can be qualified as outstanding in terms of creativity and performance by journalists and other climbers, because they have been well-known problems for a long time, among other reasons. It was a good decision to give the award to all the nominees this year.
The intent of the Piolets d’Or may be debatable, the event in itself is a great opportunity to meet like-minded alpinists. It was very interesting to meet legendary climbers like Kurt Diemberger or Mick Fowler. Peter and I also had a lot of fun with Hayden and Kyle, two alpinists from our generation.
Although Peter and I had both arrived with slight colds, it’s virtually impossible to be in Chamonix without doing at least one route. We waited until 9 am for our lift tickets, and got going. We’d decided to try “Beyond Good and Evil” in the north face of the Pélerins. Mark Twight and Andy Parkin did the first ascent in the early nineties and the climb still has an excellent reputation. This is well deserved, because the route offers excellent and demanding mixed climbing. After our late start, we had to move quickly because we had to be back in town at 4:30 pm. Fortunately, everything worked perfectly.
The dihedral in the lower part of the wall turned out to be crux. Peter was leading. Because there was almost no ice, we had to use our tools in a very thin crack, and slowly inch upwards. The lack of footholds made it even harder. Once past the dihedral, the climbing got easier. Beautiful ice led straight up the wall and Peter and I made fast progress and got back to town in time for the opening ceremony.
I’m now on my way to Alaska with Dani Arnold... Beyond Good and Evil was probably good attunement!