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News release

Mark Richey receives mountaineering's highest honor, again

Aug. 12, 2020


The first ascent of Link Sar in Pakistan by the climbing team of Steve Swenson, Graham Zimmerman, Chris Wright and Newburyport’s own Mark Richey of Mark Richey Woodworking made news in the climbing world last summer. Now the quartet is making headlines once again.

The team has been chosen to receive a Piolets d’Or – often called the Oscars of climbing.

Piolet d’Or is French for Golden Ice Axe and a mountaineering award given annually by French magazine “Montagnes” and The Group de Haute Montagne. The award, given out annually since 1992, celebrates achievements of the previous year and is considered mountaineering’s highest honor.

In addition to the team of Swenson, Zimmerman, Wright and Richey, a second American team is also among the four overall winning teams.

For Swenson and Richey, it is their second time winning the award. The duo along a third mountaineer, Freddie Wilkinson, won a Piolet d’Or in 2011 for their ascent of Saser Kangri II. Swenson and Richey also have the distinction of being two of only four Americans to have received the award more than once.

The award will officially be given out in Ladek-Zdroj, Poland, on Sept. 19. Due to the global pandemic and travel restrictions, Richey and the team will skip the award ceremony and join the celebration virtually from home.

“We knew we had achieved a very special feat when we successfully summited Link Sar a year ago. To be recognized with a Piolet d’Or is a true honor,” said Richey. “For Steve and I – the older guys who have been at this a long time – it’s our second award, which is exciting. But it’s equally exciting to see Graham and Chris, two or Americas top young alpinists, receive the award.”

“The number of Americans being honored this year is a testament to our rich climbing culture and depth of talent,” Richey added.

Read more about this year’s Piolet d’Or winners and their climbs at:


Mark Richey Woodworking is the parent company of WallGoldfinger Furniture.

Updated on Oct. 1 to share a video of the award and incredible video of the climb. (Go about 32 minutes in. It's worth the look!)

Richey on Link Sar summit, 8-5-19  P1012
Route 2.jpg
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