Eiger Nordwand ↑ all posts

Eiger Nordwand

Finally a break in the weather! Up at 6am to get a glimpse of the mountains in the clear morning air, and the north face of the Eiger finally revealed itself. This face is not the biggest in the Alps, it’s not the hardest, and it’s not the most beautiful, but it has a fearsome reputation nonetheless. Part of its fame comes from the visibility of the face: tourists in sunny Kleine Scheidegg can view the face easily through telescopes and so attempts to reach the top were constantly under scrutiny by the public.

There has been so much written about the race for the first ascent that the names and locations are well known in the climbing world: Death Bivouac where Mehringer and Sedlmayer died in a huge storm which enveloped the face. The Hinterstoisser traverse, where in 1937 a retreat from the face was made impossible by a covering of verglas after a storm, resulting in the death of all involved including the tragic and iconic death of Toni Kurz, hanging on a frozen rope within shouting distance of the attempted rescue.

The recent cloud cover had added a fresh covering of snow to the rocky outcrops and huge icefields visible from Kleine Scheidegg. Rivulets of ice and snow were spilling off the face, and as I watched the clouds returned, billowing off the western ridge and quickly engulfing the mountain. It looked like a terrifying face to climb, especially back in the 1930s without today’s equipment, weather reports, and rescue services. Reluctantly I shelved my plans to free solo it and headed back to the valley.