Cogne Ice Climbing Opening 2013


The girls are ready to go! – Girls Clinic Day 1

Mountain festivals rock and we find them in various forms and shapes.  Whether you organise such events or take part in them, you share a common ground. Passion for nature and the respect for the environment that goes along with it.

Something I really thought about at the latest Ice Climbing Opening in Cogne.   Ice climbing is not really something I had ever envisaged myself doing. The long approaches, the hard pitches, standing around in the shade while the sun blinks at you from far away, but most of all braving the cold. Where’s the appeal in all that?  In fact, although two days are but a fleeting introduction to this fascinating sport, I have to admit I enjoyed it (after some considerable effort, that is…).

Matthias Scherer and Tanja Schmitt, renowned and experienced ice climbers, are the proud organisers of this excellent, informal but informative, fun week-end, 2013 being its second edition. People from all over the world, pros and beginners alike, having a go with ice-axes or honing their skills. Isabelle Santoire and Heike Schmitt (Tanja’s twin sister) were with us on both days, accompanied by Tanja on Sunday. Superb coaching and great enthusiasm from them.

On Saturday evening, presentations made it all even more interesting.  Jeff Mercier showed a video on his new route in the Dolomites (with Korra Pesce), Klemen Premrl talked about Canadian Ice (Wolverine, Helmcken Falls, Canada, with Tim Emmett), Matthias Scherer and Tanja Schmitt showed their movie on Kjerrskredkvelven, the giant ice line in Norway – see more on this blog – , Matteo della Bordella and Luca Schiera briefly talked about their new route on Torre Egger (with Matteo Bernasconi), and Ezio Marlier discussed Repentance,  probably the most iconic ice fall in Cogne.

A relaxed atmosphere, smiles and cheers from everyone, plus the chance to try the gear and clothes from the sponsors (Arc’teryx, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Suunto, Glorify, Chimpanzee). So fear not, you will get dressed from top to bottom.

And then you sit in the bar and chat to famous people, such as – in addition to the already mentioned ones –  Christophe Moulin, Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker (watch out for an interview with them, soon on this blog) and you, too, feel part of the thrilling, evanescent and tough world of ice climbing.

Come and join the fun next year!


Approaching the ice on day one – Valeille


Heike Schmitt leading, Isabelle Santoire belaying.


Uh.. not easy to swing the ice-axe!


Other ice climbers in Valeille.


Smiling again – the girls on day 2


Approaching the ice in LIllaz


It’s getting busy on the ice…


And the sun is with us… just before we are set to leave!


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