18 January 2012
Matthias Scherer was born in 1974 near Frankfurt in Germany, and since many years he lives with his climbing and living partner Tanja in Cogne. His biggest passion is ice, which he has climbed almost everywhere, but with the icefalls of Gran Paradiso's valleys Matthias has a special feeling, how is easy to understand reading the fine story he has sent to UpClimbing. Here Mathias talks of his 19th ascent of Repentance, one of the most fascinating ice lines of the Alps.
No life without Repentance
By Matthias Scherer
It is the fourth day of January 012 and I am on my way to Repentance. For the 19th time I am going to climb this icefall today and of course my thoughts are going back. What changed? What stayed unchanged? Of course ice climbing means to discover new places and so I travelled a lot together with Tanja in the last years all over the world in search for fascinating ice lines and new possibilities to conquer the inutile and admire the surreal beauty of frozen water. But here in Cogne or should I say at Repentance. we are at home.
I climbed Repentance nearly every winter since I life in Cogne. Every November, when I ´m heeding towards the back of the Valnontey, I feel already nervous. Is there water – is it forming? It feels like meeting an old friend whom you have not seen for a longer time and you are very curious what he is looking like. First appears the pencil of the third pitch and then the lower wall. I am every winter excited to see the line again.
So nothing changed here since I saw and climbed it for my first time in January 04.Well, the fall himself? He changes a lot from winter to winter or during the season. In some winters I had the privilege to be the first person to climb it and probably the last and so I could follow the evolution of this mystical line of ice. I met all kind of ice conditions from pouring wet in December 06 to brittle hard in December 09.
From very thin in December 07 to incredible huge in February 09. In some winters the fall was climbed so many times, that at the end of the season it appeared like a card house, where everything can fall really easy apart. So the Icefall changed constantly but the fun I had climbing stayed unchanged. I never considered or discussed the grade over all my ascents because I learned that ice is not rock and it changes from one instant to another and we climb, because we love it.
Today on the fourth day of 012 the ice is more fragile than usual.There is a lot of air in the ice and not all the meduses can be trusted. The ice is dry and an amazing sight for the eye. I am linking the first two pitches in one big pitch and reach the belay on the right side of the pillar. I enjoy the view down while I am belaying Tanja up. What changed? After all those ascents - Did we grow wings? Are we now flying these line up? No, let´s be serious - On every day I climb the ice teaches me something - sometimes the hard way, but this is what it makes so special: There will be always something new to learn, to discover, to enjoy.
The biggest lesson I learned is when you have to accept and when you should resist – but also on this path I am still a seeker for new answers. We never know even after all those ascents whats awaiting us - because the ice is restless and ever changing. So the challenge and the adventure remain the same. I am climbing up the exit pillar to the Plateau Money – the ice is dry and offers lots of natural features.
The cornice at the top of the pillar is the last obstacle, before I reach the belay on the plateau. I am looking around - the sight of the Gran Paradiso, Herbetet, Roccia Viva makes me feel at home - a good feeling of an inner peace is growing inside of me. Tanja is following fast - we have finished our 19th ascent, but I think it will be not our last. We start to abseil - the stone is rolling down again - we have to imagine Sisyphus as a happy person. Oh yeah – one thing did not change too: my friendship with Tanja. My deepest thanks for sharing all this moments on the 19ten ascents…
Matthias Scherer was born in 1974 near Frankfurt in Germany. He discoverd the Alps with his family in young childhood and decided in 1993 to move completly to the foot of Mt.Blanc. Since then he never left the mountains for long. In 1993 he started waterice-climbing which became fast his biggest passion. Till today he climbed over 500 waterfalls all over Europe and Canada. In the Ice "Off-season" he is looking for quite faces, pillars and ridges all around the Alps and hones his rock-climbing skills on the many famous cragging areas around Europe. He lives together with his climbing and live partner Tanja in Cogne in the Aosta Valley on the south side of Mt.Blanc.
Matthias Scherer website