The Macpac New Zealand Alpinist of the Year awards are judged over the 12-month period that follows the previous year’s Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival. The awards recognise the best alpine climbs during a one year period, taking into account style, difficulty and creativity of the ascent. The award is open to all New Zealand citizens and Expedition Climbers Club members for climbs completed in New Zealand or overseas. This year’s awards ceremony has just taken place. And the winners are…
Jono Clarke, Daniel Joll for their one day, on-sight ascent of the Leseur Route, North Face of Les Drus, Chamonix.
We asked mountaineering veteran, Al Uren why he and his fellow judges chose this climb as the best alpine climb in the last 12 months.
“Initially Kester (Brown), Craig (Jefferies) and I decided the award should go to the Matthew Scholes and Kim Ladiges for their ascent up the North Face of Cholatse. But after we were able to sit down as a judging panel at the festival and talk about it face to face, we decided Lesueur should get the award. Our thinking was that the Lesueur, climbed free at M7 in a day was a demonstration of just how strong Dan and Jono are climbing at the moment.”
“Lesueur may not be the baddest or hardest route, but these guys have a style and a mastery of their craft that is truly inspiring. It demonstrates how the technical prowess of New Zealand mountaineers has improved in the last few years. When it’s all summed up, who cares what you’re climbing – all I see is totally focused, passionate young men at the peak of their powers going for it. That in itself deserves an award. Here’s hoping the dream run can continue.”
Joll, who has won the award before, took great pride in another win, but more than that he is proud of the progression made by New Zealand’s mountaineers in the last 12 months.
“Personally, the important part of the Macpac New Zealand Alpinist of the Year Award is not in winning, but in the fact we have a platform to showcase the best ascents made by Kiwi alpinists throughout the year. The award helps publicize and showcase the strength, creativity and successes of the NZ climbing community.
“Choosing a “winner” is difficult especially when comparing a broad range of climbs from solo ascents such as Ben Dare’s climb on Mt. Suter, to technical climbs at altitude like the North Face of Cholatse.”
“This year the judges had a wide range of ascents to consider. This was the highlight for me. It has been many years since such a list of hard alpine ascents was completed by Kiwi teams in a single year. It shows the depth of alpine ability which is growing in New Zealand and gives us a powerful signal about the future of mountaineering in this country. We also had our first nominations for an all female ascent, which is amazing, but no surprise when you actually know the girls who were nominated.”
“Both Jono and myself would really like to thank Macpac who have been supporting this award for several years and working with us to raise the profile Kiwi alpine climbing around New Zealand and overseas.”