Grit & Rock Award winners announced

This week the Grit & Rock Foundation announced the winners of their First Ascent Expeditions Awards 2018 at an event in Chamonix, attended by the likes of Catherine Destivelle, Victor Saunders, Lydia Bradey and Liv Sansoz.

Grit & Rock, a UK-based charity, established in September 2016 an annual international expedition award to promote female first ascents. The aims of the USD10,000 First Ascent Expeditiom Award are to encourage female participation in pioneering alpine ascents and to further the understanding and exploration of the unclimbed peaks. The Award is open to individuals and climbing teams of any nationality with a majority female participation. In 2017 the inaugural award winners included Natalya Martinez, Maryna Kopteva, Galina Chibitok, Anastasia Petrova, Christina Pogacean, Nasim Eshqui, Dawa Sherpa and Elisabeth Revol. The award-funded expeditions took these remarkable women to ground-breaking ascents in China, Nepal, India and Argentina. Two teams have claimed ascents of the previously unclimbed peaks and two opened new beautiful routes in remote parts of the world.

At the awards event on February 10, 2018, the Award jury consisting of Lydia Bradey, Christian Trommsdorff, Masha Gordon and Victor Saunders announced the winners of the 2018 Award in three categories:

–  Anna Torretta, Cecilia Buil and Ixchel Foord (Italy/Spain/Mexico) for an ascent of virgin Mugu Peaks (5,340m) in the Karnali area of Nepal – USD4,000
–  Josie McKee, Caro North and Whitney Clark (US/Switzerland) for a new route on Mount Arjuna (6,230m)in India’s Kishtwar province – USD3,000

– Ilana Jesse and Katie Bono (US) for a virgin ascent in the Hayes range in Alaska (USD2,000)

– Alena Panova and Nina Neverov (Russia/France) for a new route on Chon-Tor (4,180m) in Kyrgyzstan (USD1,000)

Christian Trommsdorff, a member of the jury and the President of IFMGA and GMHM that administers the Piolets D’Or award, said ‘The jury was impressed with the quality of many applications where a high ambition of projects was matched with strong climbing CVs. In the coming few months, we will be watching these 4 teams with great interest make attempts on their chosen objectives. These journeys will no doubt inspire others to dream up a first ascent goal for the 2019 Award and further female achievement in alpinism’.

Lydia Bradey, a member of the jury, a guide and a first woman to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen, said: ‘The Grit & Rock First Ascent Expedition Award has started a new movement. Through the exposure of the Award, we see the bridging of the (natural) divides between nationalities, languages and cultures. Exposure to the aspirations and achievements of talented female climbers from around the world leads to a trickle-down effect of inspiration. Inspiration to an elite athlete to lead an expedition to a first ascent in a remote location, inspiration to woman who might consider herself ordinary – to step outside, to lead, to go climbing.’

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