Couples who share their passions are not so infrequent in the sport industry. We find examples in the climbing, swimming, skiing, mountaineering world in general.
Tanja and Matthias, however, are united by a love for something rather treacherous: ice climbing. It is the frailty of it all, hanging from a brittle and unstable piece of ice that appeals to them, for they are always reminded that life is but a short flash and needs to be enjoyed fully.
I met Tanja and Matthias at the IMS www.ims.bz in Brixen, South Tyrol, in 2012. This mountain festival offers the chance to spend time with mountaineers and climbers, and so I immediately captured their spontaneity and their kind manners. They have lived in stupendous Chamonix and are now based in Cogne, the ice-climbing capital in stunning Aosta Valley. Being German, and from a non-mountainous region, means that they had to adapt to different cultures, languages and settings to be able to follow their interests.
What I found most fascinating, though, was the fact that they always come back from their frequent trips – to the fabulous Canadian Rockies or magical Norway for instance – with many excellent photographs and videos, whose soundtrack they compose themselves on a computer software. Frozen Love is one example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVt7WAyQSYU A journey into the allure of ice climbing and a testament to their love. Others are the ascent of Repetance in Valnontey, Cogne http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-Yj2jHah9XY# and a video on Canadian Ice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xPXtogtbjc&feature=share&list=UUpkU8x1cVuuYnqcWzw5o-SA
Their websites www.tanja-schmitt.com and www.matthias-scherer.com/index.html are also incredibly rich in pictures and extremely detailed descriptions of their ascents, with slideshows, comments, advice and superb shots which aptly frame their vision.
Among Matthias’ most memorable lines are Juste une Illusion and Rappelle toi que tu es un Homme in France, Lipton in Norway, Rainbow Serpent, Replicant and Killer Pillar in Canada. As for Tanja, some of her most cherished routes are Double Scotch in France, Rübezahl in Kandersteg (climbed together with her twin sister Heike), Crash, Dancing with Chaos and Shooting Star in Canada, and Hydnefossen, Hauksfossen and Kjerrskredkven in Norway.
They also practice ski touring and, in the summer months, when ice is nowhere to be found, they go rock climbing. They have also been very active on the mountaineering front with several first ascents, such as a new route on the north face of the impossibly beautiful Grivola, in the Gran Paradiso National Park, in 2006.
They take part in several courses and will be at next month’s Alpine Arc’ademy in Chamonix http://alpinearcademy.com An excellent way of getting to know the basics of mountaineering in the company of professionals, with magnificent surroundings as a backdrop and a chilled-out atmosphere.
See you there!