The recipients of the 2022 Grit & Rock Award for female first ascents have been announced. This year’s winners include Priti and Jeff Wright (USA); Lise Billon, Maud Vanpoulle (France) and Raphaela Haug (Germany); Nadine Lehner, Isidora Llarena and Rebeca Caceres Lente (Chile); plus a general grant to the French National Female Alpine Team (ENAF).
The grant is intended to bolster female participation and leadership in exploration and alpine-style ascents. Teams of any nationality that are led by, or composed mostly of, women are eligible. The 2022 jury panel was chaired by Helias Millerioux, a French alpinist who received a Piolet d’Or for completing the first ascent of a new route on the south face of Nuptse’s northwestern peak (7742m) with Benjamin Guigonnet and Frederic Degoulet in 2017. Millerioux has since served on jury panels for the Piolets d’Or.
In a press release for the 2022 Grit & Rock Award, he said: “Our nominations this year are a testament to the spirit of times: sobriety, realism and sustainability. We picked the teams with ambitious and fresh ideas, those they have skills to execute on, traveling on modest budgets and climbing in pure alpine style.”
Masha Gordon, the founder of Grit & Rock, said: “Once again we are happy to champion and enable development of female alpine talent. Much has changed in the past six years since we launched our expedition grant pool. Women are finally getting more media recognition and sponsorship spotlight. Still a lot remains to be done in the field of development of confidence and skills. That is why we are renewing our general grant funding to the formidable French National Female Alpine team (ENAF) that has done so much over the years to raise attainment of female alpinism to the next level.”
The remainder of the press release explains the different award categories and the recipients:
–An experienced rope team of Priti and Jeff Wright towards their expedition on a virgin peak of K7 Central in Pakistan ($3,000).
–An all-female team of French and German alpinists, Lise Billon, Maud Vanpoulle and Raphaela Haug, towards an expedition to attempt new routes in the Rolwaling Valley of Nepal ($3,000).
–A team of young Chilean alpinists Nadine Lehner, Isidora Llarena, and Rebeca Caceres towards their project to put up new routes on remote Cerro Arenales and Cerro Garcia on Chile’s Northern Patagonian Icefield ($2,000).
–Having reviewed its long and impressive track record of coaching young female alpinists, the jury decided to renew a general funding grant to the French National Female Alpine Team (ENAF) ($2,000).
–Priti and Jeff Wright are a highly experienced wife-and-husband climbing team from the United States. During their sabbatical from Boeing in 2020, they have made an impressive first ascent of K6 Central in Pakistan.
–Nadine Lehner, Rebeca Caceres Lente and Isidora Llarena are qualified NOLS field instructors from Chile. Nadine is a founder of Chulengo Expeditions, a wilderness trekking company. In the course of 2021, the members of the team made [a] first ascent of remote Cerro Nora and [attempted] Cerro Silvia on the Northern Patagonian Ice field. [The team was turned around by melting conditions on Cerro Silvia.]
–Lise Billon, Maud Vanpoulle and Raphaela Haug are highly experienced climbers with a long list of impressive ascents. Lise and Maud are qualified French guides, and Raphaela is a German aspirant guide. All three honed their alpine skills as members of respective national climbing teams. Lise Billon became a second…female recipient of Piolet d’Or in 2016 for her ascent of Cerro Riso Patron. Maud Vanpoulle is finishing her PhD on risk-taking in mountaineering. [Vanpoulle wrote an essay on this topic for Alpinist 75 (2021), titled “Sharing Misadventures, not just Adventures: The Future of Climbing Accidentology.” Billon has also contributed to Alpinist; some of her work can be found online in a photo essay titled “A Quartet for Silent Lands.”]
–French National Female Alpine team (ENAF) has been formed in 2007 on the basis of the French National Young Alpine team (FFME and ENJA). Next cohort of the team is the six[th] one since its inception. ENAF has graduated some 35 female alpinists, with more than half going off to become guides or performing at a high level in alpinism. Its objective is to advance female performance in high mountains by providing rigorous training and expedition experience. The team is trained by two French guides, Lise Billon, 2016 Piolet d’Or recipient, and Jonathan Crison.
A story about last year’s award recipients is here.