In the Val d'Aoste last Thursday, February 28, Valery Babanov, Christophe Profit, Herve Barmasse, the Alpine Regiment Training Centre and Pemba Doma Sherpa were announced as the winners of the first St. Vincent Awards. The awards were created to honor mountaineering professionals and their achievements.
A ceremony will be held in St. Vincent, Italy, on Friday, March 7, and Grivel will present each award recipient with 2,000 Euros.
The Grolla d'Or for "best world climbing achievement by a guide" will be given to Russian Valery Babanov for his eight-day, alpine-style ascent of the west pillar of Jannu (7710m) with Sergey Kofanov in October 2007.
The ridge was attempted seriously several times since 1994; Babanov and Kofanov climbed the coveted line in excellent style despite poor weather.
The Grolla d'Or for "best world climbing achievement by a guide from Val d'Aoste" will be awarded to Italian Herve Barmasse for his first solo ascent of the Matterhorn South Face Direttissima on April 16, 2007.
Barmasse has history with the mountain: he became a guide as an adolescent because of his alpine-inclined father, Marco Barmasse, and spent many days exploring the Matterhorn's south face. Most striking is that his father was a first ascensionist of the 1500-meter Matterhorn South Face Direttissima—the route Herve recently soloed—in 1983 with Walter Cazzanelli and Vittorio De Tuoni. The young Barmasse free soloed the route in eight hours.
The Grolla d'Or for "best service performed in the mountains by a uniformed professional" will be given to the Alpine Regiment Training Centre for its Antarctic traverse and ascent of Mt. Vinson completed by First Officers Ettore Taufer and Giovanni Amort, Officer Elio Sganga and Corporal VFP4 Marco Farina. Reportedly the expedition was ecologically sustainable and provided an opportunity for its members to gain climbing experience outside of Europe.
The Toni Gobbi Grolla d'Or for "best world climbing achievement by a guide-client team" will be given to Christophe Profit for his April 9, 2007, ascent of the Heckmair route with a client on the Eiger Nordwand. The award was named after Toni Gobbi, the well-known mountaineer and mountain guide who organized and modernized the guiding profession. Profit is known for his speed enchainments and solo ascents of the great north faces of the Alps during the 1980s. The award recognizes how Profit, an extraordinarily capable mountaineer, chose to climb a classic route slowly with a client. The success, by a great margin, made Profit the first to guide the infamous face successfully ten times.
The Forte di Bard Award for ethics and solidarity will be awarded to the late Pemba Doma Sherpa for her dedication to the mountains, her fellow countrymen and their shared culture. Besides her achievements as an alpinist—she was the first Nepalese woman to climb Everest via its north face—she remains known for her generosity and her ability to modernize while maintaining strong environmental and cultural ties. In 2000, Pemba Doma founded the Save the Himalayan Kingdom association, a non-profit created to improve living conditions of the Himalayan people, especially youth. The organization helped maintain the Sherpa culture, which included the restoration of numerous Buddhist monasteries. In 2005, Pemba Doma became the first Nepalese woman to reach the summit of Cho Oyu (8021m). In 2007 she summited Lhotse and died on the descent.
Photos: Im Duck Yong, Liana Darenskya, Aleks Avdeiv.