The Alpine Club established the Spirit of Mountaineering Commendation in 2007, the Club’s 150th anniversary year, after reported incidents of mountaineers ignoring ailing fellow climbers in order to pursue their own summit goal in a selfish manner.
Initiated by Dr Norman Croucher, the commendation was first made at the Piolets D’Or ceremony in Chamonix in 2009 to six climbers for their attempt in May 2008 to rescue Spanish alpinist Iñaki Ochoa de Olza from 7,400m on Annapurna.
Fortunately, since 2009 there have been fewer reports of extremely selfish behaviour, perhaps influenced by the adverse international publicity surrounding the previous events. However, there have been extraordinary rescues or support by persons including non-climbers, such as helicopter pilots, professional rescuers and base camp teams.
To recognise these wider “Good Samaritan” deeds in mountaineering, the Alpine Club has revised its Spirit of Mountaineering commendation criteria.
“The Alpine Club Spirit of Mountaineering Commendation acknowledges and thanks those who, in the true spirit of mountaineering, have unselfishly given exceptional assistance to those in need of help in the mountains”
Past President Mick Fowler and former Vice-President Victor Saunders have now joined the Spirit of Mountaineering panel, replacing Dr Norman Croucher and former Vice-President John Cleare.
Frank Cannings (now Chair) and former Hon-Secretary Francoise Call remain on the panel.
Nominations for the Spirit of Mountaineering Commendation to be awarded in 2016 are being considered.