What you missed: the history of the Piolet d’Or sparks a debate on mountaineering

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There’s a chicken or egg question at the heart of a recent history in The New York Times on the highest distinction of mountaineering, the Piolet d’Or.

Does the annual prize encourage climbers to take fatal risks in high mountains? Or are mountaineers simply faced with life-and-death situations as they pursue the unscaled or punitive routes that Piolet d’Or judges tend to honor?

The Times contacted some of the biggest names in mountaineering for their views, among them the French Symon welfringer, argentinian Rolando Garibotti, and even the oldest statesman in sport, Reinhold Messner, who accepted the Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

“I’ve always been against the idea of ​​traditional rock climbing being a competition,” Messner said. The temperature. “In general, I’m not for medals at all. The lifetime price is a matter of respect.

This story lacks a conclusive answer to its existential question, with interviewees presenting opinions on both sides of the divide. Garibotti, who declined his appointment for price in 2006 and 2009, believes that price reinforces at the very least a culture of extreme risk-taking. scottish climber Uisdean hawthorn, meanwhile, believes few mountaineers are really motivated by the awards, comparing the Piolet d’Or to a Nobel Prize awarded to a scientist for a breakthrough in a niche field of study.

“They’re not like ‘If I do this I’ll get a Nobel Prize,’” Hawthorn said.

The story sparked an online debate within the mountaineering community, with mountaineers and fans taking to social media, forum, and even the comments section of the story to express their opinions.

“People did and died on extreme climbs long before the Piolet d’Or, but I agree with the general feeling, that climbing and rewards are strange bedfellows,” wrote a commentator on the Times’ website.

“Dying doing what you love is overrated,” wrote another. “I lost 34 friends and relatives this way. Who likes to have a broken neck, a shattered head or a lung full of snow? The companies that sponsor these athletes do not pay them to climb to the gym. “

Mountaineering rewards those who are comfortable with risk, and the world’s best climbers share a desire to challenge themselves in environments most people would never choose to explore. There are a growing number of external forces that are also pushing climbers to tackle bigger and bolder routes, such as sponsorship obligations and media opportunities. It’s no secret that major expeditions these days are becoming Netflix promotions, feature-length documentaries, Where brand films for large outdoor businesses.

Whether a Netflix documentary or branded film can motivate a mountaineer more than the Piolet d’Or or his own internal training, however, is a question for a whole different story.

Canyoning Death in Zion National Park

Andrew Arvig of Chesapeake, Virginia, died over the weekend while canyoning with two others at Heaps Canyon, a section of pools and cliffs about four miles from the park’s main entrance. Sunday rangers answer an SOS call located the stranded trio above Emerald Pools. Two climbers were perched on a cliff, while Arvig was suspended from a rope about 260 feet above the ground.

Crews lowered Arvig and a medic later pronounced him dead. National Park Service officials are investigating the cause of his death.

According to to a press release, the trio had rappelled out on Saturday morning from a series of cliffs overlooking the Emerald Pools section of the park. They ran into trouble near the canyon exit when Arvig passed a small rocky ledge, where he had to re-anchor his rope for the final rappelling to the ground. The other two climbers were able to reach the ledge and called for help, but poor reception delayed their connection to search and rescue operations. By the time rescue teams reached them on Sunday morning, Arvig was dead.

Heaps Canyon is known to be one of the most dangerous sections of the park, and in 2015 a man died after falling 100 feet into the slot canyon.

The incident is the last of what has been the busiest year on record for park search and rescue teams. By early October, crews had recorded more than 160 operations, including five fatalities, well above the annual average of 110.

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