Es ist geschafft! Anfang Februar haben die beiden Mountain Hardwear Athleten Tim Emmet (UK) und Klemen Premrl (Slowenien) die als extrem schwierig geltende Eiskletter-Route Spray On (230m, W10, M9+) der Helmcken Falls, Kanada bezwungen.

Die besondere Herausforderung an den Helmcken Falls ist, dass sie nie komplett zufrieren. Zudem verursacht ein konstanter Sprühnebel zwar eine atemberaubende Eislandschaft, stellt Kletterern aber u.a. durch Temperaturschwankungen vor immer neue Herausforderungen. Die Höhle der Helmcken Falls ist ungefähr so hoch wie ihr Überhang lang ist und verlangt, abgesehen von Akrobatik, auch eine außerordentliche Klettererfahrung.

Am Montag, den 6. Februar kletterten Emmet und Premrl die 150-Meter-Wand bis ganz oben. Nach dreijähriger Vorbereitungszeit für Emmet zeigte sich die erfolgreiche Kletterpartie als krönender Höhepunkt der 15-tägigen Reise der beiden Sportler.

Im nun die ursprüngliche Meldung auf Englisch:

British climber Tim Emmett and Slovenian Klemen Premrl completed ‘worlds hardest climb’, Spray On Helmcken Falls, Canada. By phone Tim reported last week on Monday: „Helmcken ….. Falls ! We did it ! 8 pitches. Started this morning, finished by head torch. Klem and I are totally psyched, team Geisler celebrating with us at Helmcken Falls Lodge. Tequila stuntman coming up…Drinks are flowing“

Mountain Hardwear is proud to tell the story of Tim and Klemen on this amazing accomplishment through their own words.

Tim tells: ‘On Sunday Feb 6th After 15 days of preparation, on Sunday 6th February Klemen Premrl and I climbed to the top of the cave at Helmcken Falls -„Spray On..Top“ We started in the morning and climbed to the top of the ice in two pitches (last year Will and I did this in 5 pitches but this year the ice floor was 70ft higher than last year so the start was level with the second pitch) We then continued along the ‚Space Invaders‘ traverse on rock to the firstsmall cave. The next pitch went up to the largest icicle in the main cave and climbed this for several feet before belaying at another small cave/ledge. The ‚lip trip‘ pitch is the wildest climbing I have ever been on, a diagonal traverse across the outrageously steep wall heading up to the lip of the main cave. Klem split the long pitch to the lip with a mid belay on two bolts. We gained the lip in 6 pitches and then continued the last 2 pitched to the top by head torch. Klem climbed the whole route with no falls; I had a rest on the 6th pitch while seconding it. I led the first 3 pitches and Klem the next 4; I finished by leading the last one.’

Bild: Mountain Hardwear

Bild: Mountain Hardwear

‘We were incredibly happy and excited about our ascent. There was immense time pressure and sustained difficulties but we somehow managed to get through it. Super psyched! For me it is by far the most outrageous climb of my life.’

‘Helmcken Falls is a very special place, the cave overhangs about as much as it is high, It’s 141M (463ft). To walk behind the falls in winter is an amazing experience. When I first went there with Will Gadd in 2009 I didn’t know places like that existed. Since then my perception of ice climbing has changed dramatically. I once looked at grade 6 ice as something to aspire to and dreamed of climbing the world’s most amazing lines. Now, the idea of climbing grade 6 ice is like getting out of a sports car and driving home in a tractor!’

All the people I know that have climbed in the Spray Cave think it’s the most fun ice climbing ever. The Spray Ice is so soft that nearly every placement goes in first time, just the way you want it! Added to that the sound of the waterfall is immense and the ice features covering the walls are out of this world. It’s amazing just being there. The climbing itself is very steep, powerful and acrobatic.

In 2011 Will Gadd and I climbed to the top of the ice formations (half way up the cave wall) in a total of 5 pitches. (After the this, the climbing turns to snow covered rock and dry tooling but still very steep)

This year Klemen Premrl and I wanted to see if it was possible to climb to the top of the cave. We started bolting from Wills high point from last year and made our way to a series of small caves and eventually the lip and headwall of the main Cave. We climbed all the pitchesbelow the lip as we bolted them but then Klem was unable to make progress to get through the lip. We retreated and decided to abseil in from the top to see if we could find a way to connect our high point with the top of the cave. The last two pitches we bolted from the top down and we found a possibility that might be climbable. Then we had one day left before Klem had to leave for Slovenia, so we went for it!’

Klemen: ‘We climbed the most outrageous ice climb that I know of! The most tense moment for me was while working on a route, climbing and drilling Lip Trip pitch. I was hanging of my tools at the end of tremendous overhang, 2 m away from easier ground, unable to find any hooks for my tools… That could mean that we would not be able to finish this route. I knew that there had to be a sequence (there almost always is). I already postponed my flight back home, but we were running out of time again, but this time out bolts too. It was the first time on that route that I was ready to surrender, but luckily I was climbing with Tim, so giving up, was not an option. We manage to get some bolts (5) but no hangers, and some ring bolts (4) that we could hand placed in drilled holes. With a small amount of remaining time and bolts we could not afford to make a mistake. Since there is no obvious line in the headwall, we would easily end up bolting a line that ends in blank rock. That would mean the end, and we really, really did notwant that to happen. So, we opted to abseil from the top. We were back in the game!

Next day it was my turn. I was trying to connect our highpoint to the very last pitch that Tim did a day before. The headwall that we considered as easy ground (and compared to the rest of the climb it really is) is still quite overhanging, so there was a lot of swinging and hanging… anyways, after a whole day of working I was at the top, I linked the missing part of our route.

Venturing new ground, looking for new possibilities, looking beyond existing, creating new things, that was the game that Tim and I played. Topping out on the very top of Helmcken Falls for the first time, that was the name of our game. I think that this route will soon be climbed in better style, probably repeaters will find it easier than we did, but I’m quite sure that anybody that will do that climb, will be surprised by the magnificent surrounding, exposure and scale.’

Bilder & Quelle: Mountain Hardwear