Eiger and it’s 1800meter high north face is one of the most impressive features in the Alpes. The drama prior to the first ascent, all the impressive routes and all the books and movies made about it, both documentaries and fiction, has made Eiger one of the best known mountain in the world. The first ascent route from July 1938 by Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek is the most famous and most climbed route in the Nordwand.
I’ve wanted to climb the Eigerwand by its classic route for very long, simply because I’ve read and heard so much about the wall. It’s one of those mountains you just cant get out of your head. Same as for the Trollwall in Norway, witch I still haven’t climbed. Not yet.
I traveled to the Alpes on February 8. knowing that the Alpes hadn’t had any big snowfalls for a long time and that conditions on many of the big alpine faces was good. I received a mail from my Grindelwald friend Andreas the same same day as I left, saying conditions was good on Eiger. And flying into Geneva in good weather I had a perfect view straight onto the Eigerwand. I couldn’t wait to climb it, just needed to find a partner.
I had two days of acclimatization in Chamonix first – soloing a easy route on the Tacul Triangle to the summit of Mont Blanc du Tacul and the next day, soloing Fil a Plumb in the north face of Midi/Col du Plan. I was living in the same apartment as Ole Kristian Nytrøen and when I started talking about Eiger he was of course keen. Ole is one of very few young Norwegians who are keen on alpine climbing and he was the perfect partner for Eiger.
We slept comfy inside the Eigergletscher station the night before the climb and started just before 03.00 on February 12. And the climb went quite smooth. Conditions was very good with tracks on the snowfields, sometimes to much. In the dark, we had a hard time finding the Difficult crack because we followed the wrong tracks… Except for the 4 (or so) crux’s pitches we mostly simul-climbed and summited a little more than 12 hours after we started climbing. Not to bad, but still more than 4 times longer then the Swiss machine Ueli Steck. We descended the west face and made it back to Eigergletscher in a 15 hours roundtrip. We then walked back to Grindelwald and drove back to Chamonix the same night, making it a really long day. Modern alpinism – sleeping comfy, going light and fast and making it back home for a beer. Today we climb much faster than the pioneers and that might seems very impressive, but we are just lacy and sissies compered to the climbers who pioneered this big faces back in the golden age of alpinism.
The Eigerwand has been called “an obsession for the mentally deranged” and maybe it is? But the only way to get healed was to climb it. And in the process I got an adventure into alpine climbing history and a fantastic alpine terrain.
Click on images to see larger versions