There follows a representative list of significant, innovative ascents in most mountain regions of the World, climbed during 2021, in alpine (or in a few cases capsule) style and with minimal or no use of drilled equipment. This is not a list of nominated ascents for the Piolets d'Or and should not be confused with such: it is a selection of routes that are classed as noteworthy within their particularly regions. Grades are those quoted by the first ascensionists and remain unconfirmed.
This preliminary list of significant first ascents during 2021 was compiled by Lindsay Griffin (Senior Editor, American Alpine Journal), with help from Dougald MacDonald (Editor in Chief, American Alpine Journal) and Rodolphe Popier (Club Alpin Francais).
- Saraghrar Northwest (ca 7,300m)
First ascent of Saraghrar Northwest (ca 7,300m), Hindu Kush, via the northwest face (2,300m, ED2 or Russian/Caucasian 6B, 6b M5+ A3+ 80-90°) from September 3-10 by Archil Badriashvili, Baqar Gelashvili, and Giorgi Tepnadze (Georgia). They descended the same route with one bivouac.
For acclimatisation the three had made the first ascent of the south face and east ridge (1,800m, TD 60°-ice 75°-snow) of nearby Languta-e-Barfi (6,833m) from August 24-25.
- Garmush Zom I (6,244m)
Partial new route on the northwest face (1,100m, 55°) of Garmush Zom I (6,244m), Hindu Raj, by Tiphaine Duperier, Boris Langenstein, Aurélia Lanoe, and Guillaume Pierrel (France) on June 13. The four then descended from the summit on ski. The route shared some common ground with a 2007 Korean ascent. The following day, June 14, the four made the second ascent of Garmush Zom II (6,180m), Hindu Raj, via a new route up the 1,400m southwest couloir, descending from the summit on ski with one rappel. In July the same team made the first ski descent of the rarely climbed French Route on the south face of Gasherbrum II (8,035m), Baltoro Muztagh, Karakoram.
- Sami Sar (6,032m)
First ascent of Sami Sar (6,032m) via the north ridge during the meteorological winter (December 17) by Kazuya Hiraide and Takuya Mitoro (Japan).
- Yawash Sar II (6,176m)
First ascent of Yawash Sar II (6,176m), Ghujerab Mountains, Karakoram, on April 30 via the ca 850m southwest face by Andrzej Bargiel (Poland), who descended from the summit on ski.
- Gunj-e-Sar (ca 6,350m)
First ascent of Gunj-e-Sar (ca 6,350m), Ghujerab Mountains, via the north face and west ridge – Shimshal Highway (1,000m, AI5) – by Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab (Poland) over two days in September. The pair descended the southeast face.
- Trident Gunj-e-Sar (ca 6,150m)
First ascent of Trident Gunj-e-Sar (ca 6,150m) via the west face - Pakistani Disco (800m, UIAA V M6 WI4+) – by Michał Czech, Wadim Jabłoński, and Maciej Kimel (Poland). The pair made one bivouac and descended a different route to the southwest.
- Uli Biaho Gallery
New route on the northeast face - Frozen Fight Club (700m of climbing, M7 A3) – of Uli Biaho Gallery during the meteorological winter by Damian Bielecki and Marcin Tomaszewski (Poland).
- Korada North (6,146m) & Kapura Central (6,530m)
First ascent of Korada North (6,146m) on September 6-7 via the west face and northwest ridge – Hot Tang (900m, TD+ M5+ 75°), and the first ascent of Kapura Central (6,530m) via the west face – In the Fire (1,300m, ED M6 85°) in the Tagas Mountains, Karakoram, from September 16-19 by Tim Exley, Will Lewallen and Tom Seccombe (UK). The latter route involved a committing approach and a total of five days round trip from advanced base.
- Dansam West (6,600m)
The first ascent of the north face – Harvest Moon (1,600m, M6/M7 90°) - on Dansam West (6,600m, second overall ascent) in the Western Saltoro Mountains, from June 25-29 by Martin Elias (Spain), Victor Saucède (France), Jérémy Stagnetto (France), and Jérôme Sullivan (France/American).
- Rokapi (6,468m)
First winter and second overall ascent of Rokapi (6,468m), Api Himal, via a new route on the south face and southeast ridge (ca 1,600m, WI3 M4). The route was completed from December 21-23 by John Kelley (USA), solo, and he returned to base camp on the 24th.
- Annapurna III (7,555m)
The first ascent of the southeast ridge of Annapurna III (7,555m), Annapurna Himal, via the route Patience (2,950m, 6a A3 M6 80° ice and 90° snow), by Nikita Balabanov, Mikhail Fomin, and Viacheslav Polezhaiko (Ukraine). Sixteen days (October 22 – November 6) to the summit from base camp. The three then descended new ground on the southwest face for a further three days. They were picked up below this face, at around 5,000m, by helicopter, which had previously transported the expedition to base camp. To acclimatize, the team completed a partial new line to the summit of Annapurna IV (7,525m).
- Dorje Lhakpa (6,955m)
First ascent of the south face (ca 1,150m, 55-65°) of Dorje Lhakpa (6,955m), Jugal Himal. Mikel Inoriza, Iker Madoz, and Mikel Zabalza (Spain) climbed through the approach icefall on October 24 to a high camp at 5,700m, then summited and returned to high camp on the 25th.
- Chobutse (6,685m)
First ascent of the northwest face – Slovenian Direct (1,700m, ED M5 AI5) - of Chobutse (6,685m) in the Rolwaling Himal. Climbed from the village of Na (4,150m), with two bivouacs on the ascent, by Nejc Marčič and Luka Stražar (Slovenia). Descending by the west face, the pair made a three-day round trip, October 28-30, from Na.
- Kangchung Shar (6,063m)
First complete ascent of the north face and northwest face/ridge - Ada's Heavenly Traverse (ca 900m TD+) – of Kangchung Shar (6,063m) by Jaroslav Bánský and Zdeněk Hák (Czech Republic).
- Tengkangpoche (6,487m)
First ascent of the ca 1,600m northeast pillar of Tengkangpoche (6,487m), Rolwaling Himal, from October 24-30 by Matt Glenn and Tom Livingstone (UK). Descent via the east ridge on the 30th. No grade given for the ascent route – Massive Attack - but thought similar to that quoted by the party making the previous highest attempt (to 5,930m): 5.11 A3 M7.
https://www.tomlivingstone.com/climbing-blog-1/2021/12/6/tengkangpoche-part-1-boundless-energy (four-part story)
- Tengkangpoche (6,487m)
First ascent of the east ridge integral (approached via the north flank) of Tengkangpoche (6,487m). Climbing two, parallel, new routes, Santarai (François Cazzanelli and Leonardo Ghezza) and Settebello (Emrik Favre, Jerome Perruquet, and Francesco Ratti) both 450m and AI5 (or AI5 R) M7 A2, the five Italian climbers reached the ridge in the region of several small summits between Kwangde and Tengkangpoche. They then crossed these tops to the start of Tengkangpoche’s east ridge, which they followed to the summit.
- Cholatse (6,440m)
First ascent of Brothers in Arms (1,600m, ED, WI5 M5+) on the north face of Cholatse (6,440m) by Stéphane Benoist, Pauline Champon, Anouk Félix-Faure, Pierrick Fine, and Pierrick Giffard, with four bivouacs.
- Baruntse (7,152m)
A new route – Heavenly Trap (1,300m, UIAA VI+ M6+ 80°) - on the west face of Baruntse (7,152m) in the Mahalangur Himal climbed from May 22-25 by Radoslav Groh and Marek Holeček (Czech Republic). The pair then took another four days to descend the southeast ridge in a violent storm to ca 6,100m, where they were evacuated by helicopter. The pair made a total of nine bivouacs after leaving base camp.
- Chamlang (7,319m)
The first ascent of A l'Ombre du Mensonge (ca 1,600m, ED WI5+ M5+ 90°) on the north face of Chamlang (7,319m), Mahalangur Himal, from October 10-12 by Charles Dubouloz and Benjamin Védrines (France). The pair then descended the west ridge with a further bivouac
- Pik Voennyh Topografov (6,873m)
First ascent of Impromptu (2,000m TD or Russian 5B AI3) on the south face of Pik Voennyh Topografov (6,873m, Military Topographers Peak), Tien Shan, on the China/Kyrgyzstan frontier. The team of Dmitry Golovchenko, Dmitry Grigorev, and Sergey Nilov (Russia) made a 20km+ approach from Khan Tengri base camp, crossed the frontier on August 20, climbed to the summit on the 27th, descended the long northwest ridge, and then had to walk several days out to a road for collection, arriving there on September 4.
- Pik Ostryi (4,818m)
First ascent of Pik Ostryi (4,818m), in the Orto-Chashma Gorge of the Pamir Alai, on August 4-5 via the east ridge (550m, 5B, UIAA VII+ A3) by Maria Dupina, Nadya Oleneva, and Marina Popova (Russia). The party made one bivouac and descended by rappelling to the west.
- Pik Simagina (4,400m)
New route on the north face and east ridge - Aquadiskotheque (550m, 5A, M5 A2) – of Pik Simagina (4,400m) in the Ala Archa. The ascent was made in the calendar winter by Alexey Boyko, Anatoly Syshchikov, and Pavel Tkachenko (Russia).
- Pik Kosmos (5,942m)
The first ascent of Pik Kosmos (5,942m) in the Western Kokshaal-too via the north face (1,800m but 2,600m of climbing, ED WI4) from September 26-30 by Alexander Gukov and Victor Koval (Russia). The pair then descended the east ridge with two more bivouacs.
- Pik Koroleva (5,816m)
Partial new route – north face and northwest ridge (1,650m, AI4 M5) - of Pik Koroleva (5,816m) in the Western Kokshaal-too, with one bivouac during August, by Kirill Belotserkovskiy (Kazakhstan), and Ivan Temerev and Alex Tyulyupo (Russia).
- Siren Tower
First ascent of Siren Tower via the north face – Wall of Planck (700m, 16 pitches, 7b+ or 8a via a variant freed during the descent), Mythics Cirque, Schweizerland. Nicolas Favresse (Belgium), Aleksej Jaruta (Sweden), Sean Villanueva (Belgium), and Jean-Louis Wertz (Belgium) climbed the route capsule style in a total of five days during August, fixing the first 200m. Approach to the area by yacht from France. This team climbed many other routes in the area during their lengthy stay.
- Siren Tower
New route – Forum (800m, 22 pitches, 7c) on the north face of Siren Tower, Mythics Cirque, Schweizerland. Matteo Della Bordella (Italy), Silvan Schüpbach (Switzerland), and Symon Welfringer (France) climbed the route in capsule style and freed it over six days during August. Two bolts were placed by hand. Approach to the area by kayak from Tasiilaq.
- Neacola (2,850m)
First ascent of the Medusa (north) face of Neacola (2,850m), Aleutian Range, Alaska, from April 11-17 by Nick Aiello-Popeo, Ryan Driscoll, and Justin Guarino (USA). The 1,400m face was rated 5.10 A2 M6. The climbers reached the summit ridge about 300m distant and 75m lower than the main summit but were unable to continue due to extremely high winds. They descended the east face in one long day.
- South Buttress of Denali
First ascent of Anubis (2,500m, WI5 M6) on the Isis Face of the South Buttress of Denali, Central Alaska Range, by Michael Gardner and Sam Hennessey (USA). Approach on skis from the Ruth Glacier, top of the buttress at 4,695m, and descent on skis of the South Buttress and out to Kahiltna Base Camp from April 27-28.
- Denali (6,190m)
South to north traverse of Denali (6,190m) via the Cassin Ridge to Main summit, traverse to north top, ski descent (the first) of the 3,000m Northwest Buttress, the Peters Glacier, then across the tundra to the road at Wonder Lake by Adam Fabrikant, Michael Gardner, and Sam Hennessey (USA). Taking place from June 12-14, this trip covered a total distance of around 80km from Kahiltna Base Camp in 64 hours, most of that time spent awake.
- Mount Huntington (3,731m)
First ascent of Heart of Stone (1,050m, M7 90°) on the west face of Mount Huntington (3,731m) by Luka Lindič (Slovenia) and Ines Papert (Germany).
- Fitz Roy Massif
The first ascent of the Moonwalk Traverse (4,000m+, 6c 50°) – the first complete south to north traverse of the Fitz Roy Massif (Aguja de l’S to Aguja Guillaumet), from February 5-10, by Sean Villanueva (Belgium), solo.
- Illampu (6,368m)
New route on the west face - Mental Ward (850m, WI4 M5) – of Illampu (6,368m), Cordillera Real, by Brad Ward and Matt Ward (USA).
- Hualcan (6,125m)
First ascent of Knights and Days (1,000m, VII M5 90°) on the north face of Hualcan (6,125m), Cordillera Blanca, by Blaž Karner, Matevž Štular (Slovenia) and Aritza Monasterio (Peru).
- Hualcan Este (6,122m)
First ascent of Virtual Insanity (1,500m, M5 90°+) on the northeast ridge of Hualcan Este (6,122m), Cordillera Blanca, par Bor Levičnik and Matija Volontar (Slovenia).
- Concha di Caracol (5,640m)
First ascent of Cerveza, Pan y Ácido (700m of climbing, ED AI4 90°) on the south face of Concha di Caracol (5,640m), Cordillera Vilcanota, by Andres Marin and Alex Torres (Colombia) and Anna Pfaff (USA).
- Flat Top Peak (2,282m)
A new route - Soulfly (1,100m, M5 AI5+R) on the east face – and first winter ascent of Flat Top Peak (2,282m), Southern Alps, by Ben Dare (New Zealand), solo.
- Sandneshatten (2,200m)
The first ascent of Le Pilier du Contrevent (750m, 6a A2 M4) on the east face of Sandneshatten (2,200m), Orvin Fjella, Queen Maud Land, by Jacques-Olivier Chevallier, Didier Jourdain, and Jordi Noguere (France).
- Petit Dru (3,733m)
The first ascent of Base (1,000m, 7a M8+) on the west face of the Petit Dru (3,733m) by Thomas Auvaro, Léo Billon, Jordi Noguere, and Sébastien Ratel (France). A calendar winter ascent approximating the former Harlin-Robbins Direttissima and the 2015 Spanish attempt.
- Combin de la Tsessett (4,135m)
New lines and ski descents, which included the east face of the 4,135m Combin de la Tsessette (via a 1,200m line called the Les Piliers de Bagnes), the 900m Merci Mamans on the southwest face of the Bietschhorn (3,934m), and X on the 950m southwest face of the Täschhorn (4,491m), by Paul Bonhomme (The Netherlands/France), Vivian Bruchez (France) and (on the Bietschhorn) Gilles Sierro (Switzerland).
- Cimon della Pala (3,184m)
First ascent of Elements of Life (900m of climbing, AI5 M6) on the north face of the Cimon della Pala (3,184m), Pale di San Martino, by Emanuele Andreozzi and Matteo Faletti (Italy).
- Cima Tosa (3,173m)
First ascent of Pazzioni Primavernale (around 1,000m of climbing, AI6 M7 90°+) on the north-northeast face of Cima Tosa (3,173m) by Emanuele Andreozzi and Matteo Faletti (Italy), and Santiago Padrós (Spain).
- Cima de Gasperi (2,994m)
First ascent of Alchimia (800m, AI5+ M6+) on the northwest face of the Cima de Gasperi (2,994m) by Emanuele Andreozzi (Italy) and Santiago Padrós (Spain).
- Sella di Sennes (2,787m)
First known ascent of the southwest face of Monte Sella di Sennes (2,787m) Fanes Group, via the route Sorejina (700m, WI5+ M6 50°) on January 11 by Manuel and Simon Gietl (Italy).