Candidates speaking on day 2

This time we’ve prepared something special for you! On Monday the whole gang drove to Valsavarenche where they ascended a route called Cascade Rovenaud. Even though they followed the same line their impressions and feelings about it are soooo different 🙂 Read their own words ‘decorated’ with nice pictures from David Ravanel…

Today I learned something very important: how to keep warm in -12 degrees while kicking the ice really crazy with my new best friends – crampons and ice-axes 🙂 Since nobody was leading the route before us the ice was even harder than the day before… A bit later, when seconding a scary traverse, I lost all my energy trying to fix a stuck rope. After few seconds my forearms were totally pumped and I started to get worried about loosing my axes. I couldn’t rest on my feet neither cause the section was really steep and we we’re front-pointing… Fortunately the other pitches were more enjoyable even though we were climbing in an ‘ice-rain’ pouring down from the top of our rout 🙂 Well, new experiences, new learnings, enjoying anyway! Isa                                                                                                                                                  

Today I was scared a little bit for first time since the Mountain Academy started. I realised that sometimes an easy looking ice can be much harder than expected. I just guess it happens quite often for ice climbing. Also, today I belayed the fall of my partner who suddenly decided to test a new BD ice-screw 🙂 Definitely it’s good to see that a properly placed ice-screw can hold one’s flight. Nevertheless I don’t plan to test it on my own… Milos                                                                                                                                                    

Today was another fine day with the Academy! It was great to see how smoothly the experienced guys move up nearly vertical ice. My own placements didn’t feel nearly as secure. But sure it’s good fun to lead some ice again, after over one year away from the winter games 🙂 So Denise cruises the last wet pitch; we catch a bit of the sun on the top… Sang                                                                                                                                                  

After another tasty breakfast buffet we were heading towards a valley parallel to Cogne – to a village called Rovenaud. Already on the approach to the icefall we felt that the temperaturas were a little friendlier than on the previous days. We all sensed it was going to be another good day!

Before climbing a three-pitch-icefall our group did first some warm up routes. Later on I got a chance to lead the second pitch. As I lifted the ice axe quite high, my jacket moved up and the water started pouring down my pants along the legs 🙂 Even though I was totally wet, slip included, I felt a deep and complete satisfaction. Another perfect day of the Mountain Academy! Denise                                                                                                                                                  

After topping out the Cascade Rovenaud with Milos we decided to repeat the first pitch and then finish our day with some more sportive, steep and demanding icefalls located on the right side of the arch. In order to fulfill our idea of ‘pioneer climbers’ we chose a nice pillar where surely nobody has been before and we really did our best over there!

So it was me leading the last part before the top, getting rid of some brittle ice and placing protection in the right place. ‘Time for the next ice screw’ I thought while looking down, matching hands and trying to get a better position at the same time… and oops… whoaaa… suddenly sitting in the harness some 6m lower, almost at the beginning of the pillar 🙂 Having the next edge 20cm under me I was glad that Milos was belaying properly. ‘Could have been a different end to it!’ I thought… So no more tricks on one ice axe – that’s for sure – but how the heck do I get me the other ice axe, still hanging 6m above?? Florian                                                                                                                                                  

6:59 In the middle of girls’ room. First music notes of the alarm clock make me immediately remember where I am – with the Mountain Academy team in Cogne! Denise’s alarm clock is so typical and always on time (it’s a Swiss watch naturally). Wake up, the second day of the Academy is starting right now 🙂

10:42 Here we are, at the bottom of our playground for today. Ready to apply the advice #1 that we were given yesterday: ‘Never hesitate to place an ice-screw’. Time to do some ice climbing!

11:11 OK, finally. New advice #1b has been just given ‘Please try to climb at least one meter before trying to place your next screw’ 🙂 So the day goes on and we try to apply all the tips&tricks… enjoying ice climbing, enjoying being together, enjoying the place…

14:08 Quite unusual time for a shower, isn’t it? Especially for a cold one… This is it – top of our last pitch!

22:38 After a hot shower, nice evening with the team, ready to fall into ice dreams… waiting for the next day! Aude                                                                                                                                                  

First rule of ice climbing: do not fall while ice climbing! Second rule of ice climbing: DO NOT FALL WHILE ICE CLIMBING!!!

After the “introduction to ice climbing” yesterday, we were ready for something a bit more challenging. “Finally, some vertical action” I thought to myself 🙂 If you want to learn how to climb steep ice, you just have to climb steep ice. It is as simple as that. There is no other way.

So there we were, standing below our first obstacle: a really well-formed, two-pitch WI4. Some of the participants started warming up on the right side, where the ice was steeper, but shorter, with possible belay on the trees for top-rope. The rest of us headed towards the main icefall. Milos and Florian started on the left, and Federica and I started on the right. As I was climbing, Seb kept yelling from the bottom: “Bojan, place a screw there!”, and I thought to myself “oh come on … I just placed one” as I was screwing in another one. But I soon forgot about that, and just kept swinging my tools. Woohooooooo 🙂 Ice climbing roX 🙂

At the top, Jerome also reminded me, that I should place more protection. He told me a story, how he fell 50 meters in the mountains when he was “young and brave”, because he did not put any protection. He was lucky and got out of it with just a few scratches and bruises, but I still did not think much about it. You simply should not fall while ice climbing, I thought.

After we finished with the icefall, five of us went back down, and decided to climb the short but sweet icicles on the right. I started climbing the right one, and Florian decided to go for the left one. I managed to get to the top without many problems, and Federica lowered my to the bottom. But then someone yelled: “aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!” As I turned my head, I could see Florian flying down, stopping just before the ledge.

“Whooooaaaaaa dude?!?!? What the hell happened? Are you ok? … Are you sure?”

After Flo rearranged, he explained to us, that his tool came out, when he tried to put the ice screw in. But he was lucky, and his previous protection held. Huh … I always wanted to know if ice screws hold a fall, and I guess now I found out. If placed properly, they do hold a fall 🙂

But this does not mean we should fall in ice. First two rules of ice climbing should still be considered as holy 😉 Do not fall while ice climbing! Be careful of every single tool placement. Test it by putting weight on it a couple of times. Make sure it is 100% solid, especially on lead. And do place protection, even on easy terrain. Especially on easy terrain! Many times we loose focus when we are climbing inside our comfort zone, and that’s when we make mistakes. Don’t let these words scare you. Go out and climb! Go out and have fun!

We spend another beautiful day, with beautiful people, in beautiful mountains. I can’t wait for tomorrow 🙂 Bojan




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