GORE-TEX® Brand Shipton-Tilman Grant recipients Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted were honored with a Piolets d’Or on March 29, 2014, in Courmayeur, France, for their ascent of the 2,500-meter vertical, northwest face of K6 West, the highest peak in the Charakusa Valley in the Pakistani Karakorum. The peak was previously one of the largest remaining unattained goals in alpine climbing, and the team ascended in a light, environmentally-conscious alpine style, including both ice and mixed climbing without the support of fixed gear.
Out of 76 climbs nominated for the 22nd Piolets d’Or, six teams were celebrated for their skilled mountaineering. The overall purpose of the award is to raise global awareness of the year’s greatest ascents and celebrate adventure, bravery and exploration. The awards, which are decided upon by a jury of expert climbers, recognize teams who take imaginative and innovative new routes, use the minimum amount of equipment and build on experience.
“This was an amazing, beautiful and challenging expedition that was ultimately the only successful North American expedition in Pakistan in 2013,” said Welsted. “We could not have accomplished it without GORE’s support, and we were extremely proud to have done it in the spirit and inspiration of Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman.”
Eric Shipton (b. 1907) and Bill Tilman (b. 1897) were arguably the greatest team of mountain explorers of our time. They were strong advocates of traveling in small, compact teams and remaining respectful of the terrai unburdened by numbers of porters and excessive tonnage and leaving little trace of their passage. It is in this spirit that teams were chosen to receive the grants through the 2013 GORE-TEX® brand Shipton-Tilman Grant program, funded by W. L. Gore & Associates, inventors of the GORE-TEX® brand product technology for comfort and protection. Gore established this annual grant program in 1990 as a tribute to Shipton and Tilman.