Expect the worst but look forward to it with a smile

Expect the worst but look forward to it with a smile - breath the clear reality in and the illusions out !

Rest when you can - act without doubt when the moment comes !

Matthias Scherer on 'Les Misérables', Canada - Picture by Tanja Schmitt

Matthias Scherer on 'Les Misérables', Canada - Picture by Tanja Schmitt

Hot dust is whirling around my head while I focus on my breath. It's +35C and I am since hours on my bike, cycling endless turns up and down. Another descent ends and I start the next climb under a merciless sun - I can feel how every string of my body is burning in the heat. That was the end of the summer : 330k's and 8000m vertical gain in 15hours and 9min on the race-bike around Mont Blanc and its calming white silhouette. 
Beginning of November 3am - total darkness outside and far below 0C. We leave Lillaz and another trip to the Canadian Rockies starts. Crazy traveling brings us finally after 35 hours to Canmore. 

We hit the ice right away with a surprisingly pleasant Ascent of Nemesis at the Stanley Headwall. Virtual Reality is the next line we climb and also this one is in fun conditions compared to the real ones in November 2012 and November 2015.  Whiteman Falls and the Weeping Wall are also climbs on our quest for the early season ice this year. With the rain on the parkway rare lines are forming and Shooting Star presents itself in perfect shape. A technical first part with the spectacular freestanding up high and the massive bowl above makes this line on Mount Wilson always an outstanding day !

But our eyes were on the upper Tabernac bowl. Rarely in conditions all lines seemed to be formed up there. The steady snowfalls and therefore the high avalanche danger stopped any attempt in the beginning. So patience was on the schedule and the upper Haffner Cave was a good quiet place to keep the reflexes up. We all send Caveman M10, the classic very steep Drytooling route, that has seen quite a bit of changes over the years.

With low temperatures (-15C at the car) and a settled snowpack the conditions were now right to venture into the upper Tabernac bowl. Heike  lead fast  'Oh le Tabernac' in one pitch and so we stared the hike up to the upper wall. Full on in the sun all lines are threatened by ice and rockfall. We went for 'Les Misérables' - the wonderful steep straightforward line on the right of the wall. An impressive sight with the awareness of the extreme objective dangers: so the decision to go for it was the crux, but the whole team was super motivated. We found a perfectly protected belay 15m up the line behind a pillar. From there I made a long very steep pitch on sun rotten medusas to a small ledge and Tanja finished the line on a vertical pillar! Finding good ice for the V-threads was tricky but with some 'bricolage' we connected several ones to good ones... we escaped the wall without being hit by falling ice (the whole day icicles were breaking off) and rocks (two lines left from us a huge rockfall was sliding over the ice during the day).

Weeping pillar was still on our mind. So two days later saw us again driving up early in the morning the parkway. A quick climb up the central pillar of the lower WW brought us to the foot of Weeping Pillar. The exit looked grey and temperatures felt too high so we went to the right part of the upper WW. We climbed 'Nasty Habits' and all pitches on this part of the upper wall were very good various climbing!

The traveling back to Lillaz was as crazy as the beginning of the trip. But leaning out the next morning into the (this season very kindly formed)  traverse of Lau Bij was a good way to shake the jet lag off. With the ascent of Repentance on 23.December after the organization of the Cogne Ice Opening the long weekend before I had the feeling to be finally back home again ... 

Matthias Scherer