EXPED ambassador, Graham Zimmerman, and his climbing partners, have won the highly coveted gold medal of alpinism, the Piolet d'Or award. They have received the honor for their 2019 climb of Link Sar in the Pakistani Karakoram range.
Graham has long been a friend of EXPED and during his time as a brand ambassador he has contributed many valuable insights into gear design. He's beaten up EXPED gear in the greater ranges of the world and hauled it around on adventures closer to his home in Bend, Oregon.
It's with great pleasure that we pass along the news of GZ's most recent award-winning. He is a truly great human being and deserves the recognition such an award brings with it!
We look forward to more like this in the future.
THE PIOLETS D'OR 2020 AWARDS
AT THE 25TH LADEK MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL
Four remarkable ascents will be awarded Piolets d'Or in Ladek-Zdroj on
September 19. The year 2019 turned out to be very rich for modern alpinism, with
a substantial number of significant first ascents from all over the globe. The
protagonists were alpinists of wide diversity. There were notable ascents by the
"old guard" of highly-experienced high altitude climbers, but also fine
achievements by a promising new generation of "young guns".
Our eight-member international technical jury had the difficult task of making a
choice, the intention being not to discard any remarkable climbs, but to choose a
few significant ascents as "ambassadors" for modern, alpine style
mountaineering. In the end the jury chose what we believe to be a consistent
selection of four climbs. These will be awarded next month in Ladek.
The four ascents comprise two from Nepal and two from Pakistan. Most had seen
previous attempts and were on the radar of number of strong parties. All climbed
to rarely visited, or in one case virgin, summits. order, in the following pages.
LINK SAR (7,041M) > MARK RICHEY-STEVE SWENSON-CHRIS WRIGHT-GRAHAM ZIMMERMAN (USA)
FIRST ASCENT VIA THE SOUTHEAST FACE, 2,300M, AI4 M6+ 90°, JULY 31-AUGUST 8 ROUND TRIP
FROM AN ADVANCED BASE AT 4,700M.
Another much-coveted problem, this time in the eastern Pakistan Karakoram, Link
Sar had received at least eight attempts before 2019. But the difficulties are not
just about climbing the peak: the Indo-Pakistan conflict has made this region an
on-off affair (largely off) when it comes to obtaining a mountaineering permit.
Steve Swenson first attempted Link Sar in 2001 with a strong American team, and
then again, after a number of failed permit attempts, in 2017 with Chris Wright and
Graham Zimmerman. Having now discovered a feasible line of ascent, these three
decided to reinforce the team in 2019 with the addition of Mark Richey.
Six days after setting out from Advanced Base, they reached the top. During that
time they had waited out a 36+ hours storm, and on the summit day recovered from
a 35m leader fall due to avalanche and overcome an ungradable final pitch of deep,
steep and unstable "Peruvian" snow. A little over two days were then needed to
reverse the route. These climbers succeeded because they were persistent, used
their 126 years of combined climbing experience, and understood what partnership