The following climbs appeared on the “Super Big List” of 2012 ascents prepared for the 2013 Piolets d’Or jury. This list was compiled by Claude Gardien (Vertical magazine), Manu Rivaud (Montagnes magazine), and Lindsay Griffin (American Alpine Journal).
Pic Gaspard (3,883m). First ascent of Gérons la Canicule on the north face. In August, Max Bonniot and Arnaud Guillaume (France) climbed a vague spur on the left side of the face, finishing up the summit ridge (600m, TD+ 6b+ M4).
Meije (3,982m)–Ailefoide (3,953m). In a remarkable four-day winter link-up, Nicolas Draperi and Julien Loste (France) climbed Salsa Pour Trois Etoiles (750m, 6b) on the north face of the Meije, then Pilier des Temps Maudits (1,100m, 6a+ A1) on the northwest face of the Ailefroide.
Barre des Ecrins (4,101m). First ascent of Coup de Barre, j'Ecrins le Pire on the south face. The 1,250m route was climbed in one day in August by Max Bonniot, Mat Détrie, and Pierre Labbre (France) with difficulties rated ED+ VI/6 M6 6b A1+.
MONT BLANC RANGE
Mont Blanc (4,810m). Ciao Walter is a new 850m route on the Frêney face by Simon Deniel and Patrick Gabarrou (France). In late July, the pair followed an obvious couloir and icefall right of the 1961 Bonatti-Zappelli, then crossed the latter route, keeping left of it to the summit slopes. A week earlier, the pair climbed Super Abominette, which takes the obvious couloir right of the Innominata Ridge to join Gabarrou's 1984 route Abominette.
Petit Dru (3,733m). Jeff Mercier and KorraPesce (France) did the first winter and second overall ascent of the little-known 1979 Czechoslovak Direct on the north face of the Petit Dru. The two made their three-day ascent at 6a M5.
Aiguille des Pèlerins (3,318m). In exceptional early October conditions, Jeff Mercier and Korra Pesce (France) turned the sustained 1967 Dard-Repellin route on the north face (600m, VI and A2) into a modern mixed route. After climbing the first three pitches and leaving ropes in place the previous afternoon, the pair climbed the 16-pitch route in 13 hours at V/5+ M7 90°.
Aiguille de Peigne (3,192m). Jeff Mercier and Korra Pesce, together with Julien Desecures (France) and Jon Griffith (U.K.) climbed the north-northeast face direct, using a diagonal ramp to access the upper half of the possibly unrepeated Fullalove-Robertson route (550m, VI A3). Hard mixed climbing and poorly protected thin smears provided difficulties of V/5+ M6 85°.
Mont Rouge de Greuvettaz (3,480m). First ascent of the 900m northeast face via Eyes Wide Shut (ED1 M6 UIAA IV+ A0). Climbed in one day in mid-November by Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker (U.K.) with a rappel descent of the route during the night.
Piz Badile (3,308m). First solo and third overall ascent of Memento Mori by Rossana Libera (Italy), who made a two-day ascent of this objectively threatened 800m route, originally graded VI+ A3.
Cima Margherita (2,845m).Over three days in January, Luca Giupponi, Rolando Larcher, and Fabio Leoni (Italy) did the first free and first winter ascent of Via Cembridge (550m, 7b+ 6c obl.) on the steep north face.
Sassolungo (3,181m). Over the first two days in March, Wolfgang Hell (Italy) and Pavol Rajcan (Slovakia) made the first ascent of Cold Fusion (950m, 22 pitches, VII- M8 WI5+) on the east face.
Marmolada di Penia (3,343m). On the south face, in August, Hansjörg Auer and Much Mayr (Austria) made the first free ascent of the previously unrepeated L'ultimo dei Paracadutisti (A4, Frizzera-Leoni-Maffei, 1988). The 750m route contains no bolts and was redpointed at 8b+.
Scotoni (2,874m). First ascent of Agoge (400m, VIII/VIII+) on the southwest face, to the right of the 1952 Lacedelli route. Manuel and Simon Gietl (Italy) climbed the route after several previous attempts, using only trad gear and a few in-situ pitons, with 14 pitches, some of them bold.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (2,999m). Simon Gietl (Italy) and Roger Schäli (Switzerland) completed a two-day winter traverse of the Tre Cime in mid-March. The pair climbed the Via degli Scoiattoli on Cima Ovest, descended the south face, and climbed the Dulfer on Cima Grande to a bivouac below the summit. Next day they descended the south face and climbed the Cima Piccola via the southwest face.
Loska Stena, Jalovec Group. David Lama and Peter Ortner (Austria) climbed a new route over three days in late February on the Briceljk section of the broad, ca 1,000m north face of Loska Stena. The two completed 1,300m of climbing, with poor protection and difficulties of VII M6.
Troll Wall, Romsdal.The father-and-son team of Ole Johan Saether and Sindre Saether made the second overall and first free ascent of the ca 1,200m Krasnoyarsk Route. The 25-pitch line went at Norwegian 8– (5.12-), with many pitches of 5.11.
Editor’s note: Two highly notable European ascents were not included on the Piolets d’Or list. In September, the Catalan alpinist and runner Kilian Jornet traversed Mont Blanc via the Innominata Ridge in 8 hours 43 minutes, running from the church in Courmayeur, Italy, to the church in Chamonix, France. Also in September, Alessandro Baù, Alessandro Beber, and Nicola Tondini made the first free ascent of Colonne d’Ercole (1,200m, IX VIII+ obl.) up Punta Tissi on the northwest face of Civetta. The same trio established this route between 2009 and 2012, with no bolts.