Japan’s Yasushi Yamanoi, who has dedicated his life to mountaineering, succeeded Catherine Destivelle in being awarded the 2021 Piolet d’Or Carrière.
He started out by climbing big walls and made his name around the world by soloing Fitz Roy in the winter of 1990. In 1994 he confirmed the immense talent for high altitude climbing that he had shown on the west face of Ama Dablam two years earlier by climbing a new route on Cho Oyu.
He followed this with a long series of alpine-style ascents in the Himalayas with his wife, Taeko Nagao, although the couple came close to disaster in 2002 when descending from a repeat of the Slovenian Route on Gyachung Kang. Yamanoi lost all the toes on his right foot and five fingers for, but even this couldn’t stop him.
On his return to climbing, he headed back to Yosemite, his first love, and then did a new route on Puscanturpa East in Peru in 2013.
His long career and resilience amply justify his elevation into the pantheon of great mountaineers of recent decades.