Italian Simone Moro, Spaniard Alex Txikon and Pakistani Muhammad Ali awarded the 5th Karl Unterkircher Award, on 14th July, 2018, for the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat (8126m). The trio has did this amazing ascent on 26th February, 2016. The Jury of the 5th edition of the Karl Unterkircher Award composed by Silvio Mondinelli "Gnaro" (President), Thomas Huber, Carlo Caccia, Simon Kehrer and Hubert Moroder, announced the name of the winners at the Culture House "Oswald von Wolkenstein" in Selva di Val Gardena, Italy on 14th July, 2018.
Karl Unterkircher Award is a bi-yearly event, organised by the family, friends and colleagues of the Italian alpinist Karl Unterkircher, who was killed in an accident on Nanga Parbat in 2008, at the age of 38. They started this event in 2010 to honour Karl's memory and to keep his name alive in the mountaineering fraternity. "The award will be granted to three mountaineers or group of mountaineers who have demonstrated great climbing skills or carried out extreme expeditions in alpine style. It is intended not as competition but an award as fair play," as stated in the official website of the event.
There were three nominees for the 5th Karl Unterkircher Award. The other two were -
1. Ines Papert from Germany and Luka Lindič from Slovenia for opening a new route "Lost in China" on the South-East Face of the Kyzyl Asker (5842m) in 2016
2. Simon Gietl from Italy and Marcel Schenk from Switzerland the first ascent of "Amore di Vetro", a new mixed climbing (rock and ice) route on the North-East Face of Pizzo Badile (3308m) in 2016
"The choice proved to be extremely difficult due to the very high level of all the climbs named, which, representing different expressions of contemporary alpinism, are difficult to compare. All three companies are important pages in the history of confrontation between man and mountain. The awarding of the prize is therefore not intended to put a level above the other, but to highlight one of these pages," as the Jury stated the justification of their decision to give the award to the expedition (first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat) that on the mountain, where ten years back, Karl Unterkircher lost his life. "They reached the Nanga Parbat summit on 26th February, 2016 as first winter ascent, which was also Karl's last big dream," the Jury added.
Karl Unterkircher (27.08.1970 – 15.07.2008) is renowned for opening new routes on mountains in alpine style. In 2004, he summited Everest (8848m) and K2 (8611m) without supplemental oxygen within two months. For this achievement, in 2008, his name was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. In 2007, he summited Gasherbrum II (8035m) with Michele Compagnoni and Daniele Bernasconi. On 15th July, 2008, during an attempt to open a new route on Nanga Parbat, he fell down into a crevasse to his death.
Previous Karl Unterkircher Award winners:
1st (2010) - Swiss rock climber Ueli Steck.
2nd (2012) - Galina Chibitok from Russia and Anna Yasinskaya and Marina Kopteva from Ukraine for opening a new route on the North-West Face of Great Trango Tower (South-West Summit 6237m) in 2011.
3rd (2014) - Hansjörg Auer and Matthias Auer from Austria and Simon Anthamatten from Switzerland for the first ascent of the Kunyuang Chhish East (7400m) via South-West Face in 2013.
4th (2016) - Jon Griffith from France and Andy Houseman from UK for the first ascent of the Link Sar West (6938m), called "Fever Pitch" in 2015.
Photo Courtesy: Karl Unterkircher Award Facebook Page