The ice was steep and cathedral-like with impressive formations hanging over us like huge organ pipes. It made everything around look minuscule, in both beauty and size. I gazed up to the giant ice above, this was the Repentance Super ice fall!  

It had not been or first ambition to climb such a challenging ice fall and little did we know about it, but the Repentance Super made a strong impression on us. It was simply captivating! All at once I realized that our plans that day were about to change.

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I could not take away my eyes from the ice. Any other climbing options that day had to step aside…

In the mid February, in Cogne, Italy, we were the first party to arrive at the base of the two popular ice falls “Repentance Super” (WI6) and the easier “Mondey Money”, a WI4+ and a true classic that Gorm Gunleiksrud and I had the intention to climb as we walked into the valley early that morning.

The two ice falls share the same approach and when looking up at the enormous neighbor Repentance Super that hung for hundred of meters above our heads, partly overhanging with huge mushroom formations, we got struck by its beauty. Why not climb there instead?!

But none of us had ever climbed such a demanding ice before, nothing close to nor its amplitude or difficulty…was it a mad idea?

Mondey Money ice fall Cogne

The first plan in the morning was to climb the beautiful classic Mondey Money, WI4+, pictured here. But Mondey Money clearly came in the shade next to its fascinating neighbor Repentance Super.

Gorm and I found out that we shared the same thoughts… Agreeing on giving the Repentance Super our best, we climbed into an evolving adventure of various ice.

As we started, the other parties arrived behind us. Now it was up to us to try not to release big chunks of ice onto their heads… The climbing varied between being strenous, powerful, delicate, technical, exposed and always very impressive.

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We climbed into an evolving Adventure of uncompromising ice

The formations of ice that we had to climb through looked nothing like any ice I had encountered before. I moved my axes up, meter after meter, making use of every technique I know, trying to relax and not grip too hard. WI6 had until now been unknown ground for both of us, but the feeling of exploring it and actually mastering was fantastic. At times very pumped but very, very happy to advance higher and higher up the ice.

Topping out 6 pitches and about 200 vertical meters later, made a special sensation! Never before had we climbed anything similar, new boundaries on ice had been broken that day. It was a mileage. I felt so happy and grateful that I had trusted in the good sensation and the lust to explore!

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Placing the crampons carefully on the vertical ice pillar, the direct finish and very last pitch.

It is a value in the unknown

The experience from Repentance Super reminded me of how good it sometimes is, not “to know” too much in advance about a project/objective, but to rather just go and find out by yourself, letting the will to discover guide you into an adventure and meet the challenges with an open mind.

I think that if people had told me what it would be like, or what to expect when climbing the Repentance Super ice, I would have felt intimidated and maybe even lost the confidence to try. Honestly, I don’t think I would have had the same courage.

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Gorm working the stamina on the 2nd pitch. A game of steep vertical and partly overhanging ice.

There are many keys to success, but as often as we search for information to faciliate, hoping to give ourselves better chances, the unknown itself can be very liberating!

Johanna Stålnacke Ice climbing

The sun came into the ice on the very last pitch of the Repentance Super. What a spectacular climb!