Krzysztof Wielicki, the "Ice Warrior" of Poland, is the fifth person to climb all 14 eight-thousanders, and the first to climb Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, and Lhotse in winter. He has also made solo ascents of Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak in 22 hours.
Wielicki has received numerous awards for his achievements, including the Lowell Thomas Award, the Princess of Asturias Award of Sports, and the Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the Explorers Club, which includes some of the most famous explorers in history, such as Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, and Neil Armstrong. The International Astronomical Union named an asteroid “173094 Wielicki” in his honor.
In addition to his climbing achievements, Wielicki has also made significant contributions to the development of mountain culture through his books, films, lectures, and participation in events. He is an inspiration to climbers around the world, and his work has helped to promote the values of courage, determination, and teamwork.
Catherine Destivelle is one of the most established mountaineers across the globe. She became widely recognized in the world stage by demonstrating unrivaled talent in the fields of sports climbing, rock climbing and alpine climbing in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 1990, she became the first woman to climb the fascinating granite monolith Trango Tower in Karakoram. In 1992, she opened a new route in the west pillar of the Dru by herself. In the winter of 1992, she climbed the north face of Eiger, once again by herself, which took her only 17 hours. She also climbed the south west face of Shishapangma (8,027m) and the south face of Annapurna (8,091m) in Himalayas. With faith and passion, Catherine Destivelle broke the social prejudice that women were not able to climb. She helped other women mountaineers make a major step forward by making challenges to the high-risk solo mountaineering. The 'Destivelle Route,' which she cultivated while climbing the Aiguille du Dru in the French Alps for 11 days alone in 1991, is the first rock climbing route that was named after a woman.
Kurt DIEMBERGER is the only living person who has made the historical first ascents on two mountains over 8,000 meters among the 14 Eight Thousanders. He has made a number of movies and worked on several film projects including his career in the American Everest Expedition in 1981 joining as a cinematographer, which led him to be the world-renowned professional cinematographer on high-mountain filming area and gave him the honor of being called “the Filmmaker of the 8000s” which means the cinematographer on the highest mountains.
Kurt DIEMBERGER has also been honored with various prizes including the Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 and the Grand Prize at the 2018 International Alliance for Mountain Film. Among a total of 33 films he produced throughout his film career, two were screened in the 4th Ulsan Ulju Mountain Film Festival. Those were K2 - Mountain of Dreams and Destiny and Mountain of Crystal. He is still active in international mountain film festivals and mountain forums giving speeches and introducing films. His presence in the previous Ulsan Ulju Mountain Film Festival is still remembered by many international mountaineers and thus has been making a huge contribution to the promotion of the Festival.
The second recipient of Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Awards is Sir. Chris BONINGTON who was knighted for his mountaineering achievements in 1996 by the royal Queen of the United Kingdom. He is the first professional mountaineer who pursued future-oriented mountaineering. Since 1963, he made the first ascents to the Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia and Nuptse, and opened a new phase to the big wall climbing in Himalayas by succeeding the first ascents to the south face of Annapurna and the southwest face of Everest as well. At the age of eighty, he climbed the “Old Man of Hoy” in the UK and inspired the world with never-resting frontier and adventure spirit.
Despite his busy schedule, he took part in all the events he was expected including the opening ceremony, press conference, lecture, exhibitions and the audience meetings after the screenings, among which the press conference and lecture are still remembered by many as they lasted longer than two passionate hours.
Rick RIDGEWAY from Son of the Earth is the first recipient of the Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Awards. As a mountaineer and environmental activist, he succeeded in the ascent of K2 without supplemental oxygen for the first time among American mountaineers, and has been dedicating to the environmental issues since the mid-1990s. He joined the board of directors in Patagonia, an outdoor brand, in 2000, and shifted to his current position as the company’s VP of Environmental Affairs.
Rick RIDGEWAY is a writer and motion picture producer as well and has been recording his mountaineering life in writings, pictures and films. When he received the Award in 2017, he shared his philosophy as a mountaineer and environmentalist in a lecture and exhibitions, which drew much attention from various people. He donated all the cash award to the environmental activist groups in Korea. He has written six books and produced about twenty films so far and received the National Geographic’s Lifetime Achievement in Adventure Award and an Emmy Award.
Reinhold Messner is a living legend in the world of mountaineering. He was the first person in history to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and the first to conquer all 14 eight-thousanders. He has authored some 70 books since 1974, and been operating the Messner Mountain Museum and the Messner Foundation for Himalayan Residents since 2003.
To commemorate the hosting of Korea’s only mountain film festival, the Ulju Mountain Film Festival (UMFF), Messner was invited to share his life and philosophy through lecture and exhibitions. His lecture drew over 300 Korean mountaineers who wanted to hear about his mountaineering experiences.
Messner’s lecture became a catalyst for shedding light on various aspects of mountain culture, one of which was for UMFF to establish the Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Award, which is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to mountain culture.
Messner has been involved in the production of 10 films to date, and UMFF continues to screen one to two of his films each year, maintaining the connection between Messner and the audience.