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To conquer the Mont-Blanc in 1786, Jacques Balmat and Michel Gabriel Paccard had to defeat the ancestral fears of the whole population of the high alpine valleys.

Even in the 18th century, a night spent on the haunted glaciers meant certain death.  During an attempt at climbing Mont-Blanc, the bad weather forced Jacques Balmat to bivouac on the Bossons glacier. He survived and realised he would be the first one to reach the top of Mont-Blanc.

Today, there are still lost valleys in the Himalayas, ignored ranges of mountains at the edge of our continents with virgin summits, unknown faces and ridges that mountaineers of the 21st century will most probably explore.  

The irrational fears have given way to high level preparation, a taste for adventure and complete commitment.  The mountaineers take responsibility for the risks taken during these extreme climbs, where the only rescue available will come from their climbing companions or their expedition team.

Mountaineering, an incongruous activity in our societies, is a vehicle for the values of commitment and high performance, achieved with a deep respect for nature in one of its most powerful expressions: the high mountains.  The performance is difficult to assess. The summit cannot be the only goal: the manner in which it is achieved is the main objective.

While a major crisis destabilizes our society, a few men and women with no desire for celebrity or without forecasting any return on their investment, perpetuate the ideal of  climbing summits by the most beautiful means possible, because the mountains are exists and offer them this challenge “by fair means”.

It was an obvious choice for Courmayeur and Chamonix to give something back to these “Conquerors of futility” in recognition of their undertakings in terms of means and values.

Here, where mountaineering was born 250 years ago, it will be celebrated.  The Piolets d'Or awards are a return to the roots and a celebration to understand the essence of this still-growing discipline.

The 20th Piolets d’Or: a continuing tradition

Created in 1991, by Guy Chaumereuil, editor-in-chief of Montagnes Magazine, and the Groupe de Haute Montagne (GHM), an association of high-level mountaineers, the initiative developed internationally with the creation of the Asian Piolet d'Or in 2006.

The event, assembling all the greatest international mountaineering personalities, has become the reference point for modern alpinism.

Today, the GHM, the towns of Chamonix and Courmayeur, the Regional Authority of the Aosta Valley and the publishing house Editions Nivéales (Montagnes Magazine and Vertical) are combining their efforts to raise, strengthen and further the values of alpinism.

For the past 20 years, this international event has publicised the greatest ascents achieved in the mountains the world over, and given recognition to climbers of all nationalities for their individual or team ventures.
Piolet d'or édition 2012


Chamonix Mont-Blanc Commune de Courmayeur 
Région Rhône-Alpes
VerticalGroupe de Haute Montagne
Montagnes Magazine