Simon and Ueli Win The Prix Award

A few weeks back I posted a story about Simon Anthamatten and Ueli Steck being nominated for the Prix Courage Award for their efforts in trying to save Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa on Annapurna back in May. Earlier tonight I received notice that they have indeed one this prestigious award.

Jo Adams, reporter on the scene in in Zurich, has written an excellent story on the proceedings that can be read here. Simon was on hand to accept the award in person, while Ueli was off on, what else, a climbing expedition in Chamoinx. The Jury noted the the two Swiss climbers “did not hesitate to put themselves in danger to save these lives” in referring to their efforts on Annapurna.

By now, the story of what happened high on Annapurana is well known. Iñaki was descending the mountain after turning back just below the summit. Upon reaching high camp, he collapsed and immediately took ill. Later we would learn that he suffered a pulmonary aneurysm, which left him stranded in his tent, unable to continue his descent.

Simon and Ueli were in base camp at the time, waiting for their opportunity to climb the mountain. As soon as they heard about the trouble that Iñaki was in, the immediately gathered up their gear and went up the mountain, climbing as fast as they could. In fact, they were in such a hurry to leave, the left most of their cold weather gear behind, including their high altitude climbing boots. At 6800m, Ueli had to gone alone, after switching boots with Serguey Bogomolov, the Russian climber who has been with Iñaki.

Ueli continued up the mountain and arrived to find the Spaniard, alive but gravely ill. He helped to make him comfortable and brought him food and water. Unfortunately, it was too late, and the most he could do was make Iñaki comfortable before he passed on.

Simon and Ueli’s response to the situation shows how tightly knit the climbing community really is. The two men knew the situation and how grave it was, and didn’t hesitate to go up and attempt a rescue. For that, this Courage award is well deserved, and I salute the both Simon and Ueli for their amazing efforts.

Thanks for the follow up on this story Jo. Keep up the great work. I always enjoy your articles.

Kraig Becker

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