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The oft-criticized French alpinism award, the Piolet D’or, has received yet another blow, this time from the Russians, who, failing to collect the French prize, created their own golden ice axe award, the Russian Piolet D’or.

On November 25, in a ceremony held in Moscow, the sixteen-member siege-style first ascent of K2’s West Face Direct (Russian 6b) was awarded the first Russian Piolet D’Or. Valery Babanov and Sergey Kofanov’s alpine-style climb (VI WI4+ M5, 3000m) on Jannu’s Magic Pillar won second place, and the first ascent of Never More (Russian 6b, 1600m) on Shingu Charpa’s east face by Davy, Klenov and Shabunin won third.

In all, thirteen climbs were nominated (find all nominations below), and the winner was selected via an unusual process: the leader of each nominated team voted for one prizewinner. The French award is chosen by a panel that does not include participants.

According to the Moscow Times, the method of allowing the participants to judge their own accomplishments, and those of their peers, is known as ‘The Hamburg Score’, a term coined in 1928 by Viktor Shklovsky, a famous Russian literary critic. “All wrestlers cheat in performance and allow themselves to lose a fight at the behest of the organizers. But once a year wrestlers gather in Hamburg and fight in private among themselves. It is a long, hard, ugly competition. But this is the only way that they can reveal their real class.”

Like its French namesake, the Russian Piolet D’or has recieved some criticism. Some of the criticism, in this case, has been directed at the name itself.’s Lena reported, “Pavel Shabalin [of the K2 expedition] has offered that the competition should change name to ‘Battle of the Titans’ for the next year’s award–with a titanium ice-axe for a prize. The axe would be manufactured by Russian manufacturer Kirov–it would be original, beautiful and a Russian trademark.”

The nominated climbs are as follows:

The first ascent of K2’s West Face Direct, Russian 6b. A sixteen member team led by Pavel Shabalin completed the climb–the most difficult on the mountain–over two and a half months this summer.

The eight day, alpine style ascent of Jannu’s (7710m) Magic Pillar (VI WI4+ M5, 3000m) by Valery Babanov and Sergey Kofanov.

The July first ascent of a new route–rated Russian 6b–on Great Trango Tower’s (6237 m) South Tower (6150 m) by Mikhalicyn, Beljaev, Komissarov and Loginov.

The August first ascent of Never More (Russian 6b, 1600m) on Shingu Charpa’s east face by Davy, Klenov and Shabunin, covered in this September 13 NewsWire.

The July first ascent of a new route on Haina Brakk’s (5852m) south-east face by Saveljev, Korol, Muryshev and Nilov.

The August ascent of Engels Peak’s (6510 m) Chunovkin route (Russian 6b) on the north-east face’s central pillar by Nagaev, Ivanov, Kirichenko, Kolunov and Krasnov.

The July second ascent of Great Trango Tower’s (6237m) northwest face (Russian 6b) by Khvostenko, Arkhipov, Glazyrin, Litvinov, Cherezov and Yanushevich.

The winter ascent of Ak Su’s (5217m) Ruchkin route (Russian 6b) up the center of the north face by Khvostenko, Beljaev, Gunko, Loginov, Prokofjev and Rodikov.

The March first ascent of the central pillar on the north face (Russian 6a) of Blok Peak (5250m) by Korobkov, Bobrov, Dashkevich, Litvinov, Ravilov and Timofeev.

Kochetkov, Soshnikov and Kozlov’s ascent of Peak 4810 (Russian 6b).

The January ascent of Torres del Paine’s (2800 m) east face (Russian 6a) by Seregin, Akhmedhanov, Kovalev and Pehterev.

The first ascent of Kyzyl Asker’s (5600 m) south-east face by Ruchkin, Mikhailov and Odintsov. This line has been unsuccessfully attempted before.

And finally, the repeat–and base jump–of Torres del Paine’s (2800m) 1963 British route (Russian 5b) by Rozov, Ruchkin, Odintsov, Provalov, Kachkov and Krasko.