Eiger north face

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The north face of the Eiger in August 2008
The Lake Thun before Eiger (left), Monk and Jungfrau

The north face of the Eiger is one of the great north faces of the Alps . The Eiger ( 3967  m above sea level ) belongs to the Bernese Alps , its north face is over 1800 meters high. With a length of up to four kilometers, the climbing routes through the wall are among the longest and most strenuous in the Alps; the danger from falling rocks and avalanches is great. The wall became known primarily for its dramatic attempts and climbs. For public interest has also helped that the wall of Grindelwald and the even better by train reach Kleine Scheidegg is viewed directly.

Max Sedlmayr and Karl Mehringer died during an attempt to climb in 1935 ; When attempting to climb in 1936 , all four climbers of a German-Austrian rope team died. In 1938 a team of four with Anderl Heckmair , Heinrich Harrer , Ludwig Vörg and Fritz Kasparek made the first ascent. The predominantly German-Austrian first ascent attempts at the time of National Socialism were heavily criticized because of their political orientation and their relatively new climbing style, which was not yet established in the Western Alps .

Meanwhile, more than 30 interconnected routes lead through the wall, some of which require the mastery of the very high level of difficulty ten (X) . Today, top alpinists manage to climb the north face within a few hours in favorable weather conditions. Since November 2015, the record on the Heckmair route has been 2 hours, 22 minutes and 50 seconds, after the first climbers had needed three days.

Location and surroundings

Stratification in the north wall. In 2000, Ueli Gegenschatz performed a base jump from this “mushroom” .

The Eiger rises southwest of Grindelwald ( Interlaken district of the canton of Bern ). It is located in the Swiss Alps and is part of the Bernese Alps. The famous north side of the Eiger is formed by the north-east wall and the north wall, which is actually a north-west wall. In between is the north pillar . The Mittellegigrat limits the northeast wall to the east and the north wall ends in the west ridge. The border of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn runs at the foot of the north side of the Eiger . In the rock behind the north face, parts of the Great Tunnel of the Jungfrau Railway lead to the Jungfraujoch. In the wall there is the viewing gallery of the Eigerwand station . Like the whole of the Eiger, the wall is made of limestone from the Helvetic system . The sediments form alternating layers of Schrattenkalk , marl and clay slate and drop to the north at 60 to 70 degrees. The stratification is evident on the outside of the north wall.

History of the north face ascents

The north face of the Eiger was climbed by many famous mountaineers such as Gaston Rébuffat , Hermann Buhl , Kurt Diemberger and Reinhold Messner .

It was nicknamed the Murder Wall in the mid-1930s after two serious attempts to get through had ended in death. So far, more than 70 climbers have died in and on the north face, and many more had to be rescued, sometimes at enormous expense in terms of personnel and materials. Two climbers are still missing. With one of them it is questionable whether he even stepped into the wall - only the tent at the base of the wall was found.

Preliminary remarks

The north face of the Eiger seen from the northwest.

A British mountaineer wrote in a book about the north face of the Eiger that appeared in 1864:

«Of the thousands who pass under the shadow of this grandiose wall every year, the height and steepness of which exceeds that of the Wetterhorn , everyone is deeply impressed by the wild demolition. But as overwhelming as the sight of these rockfalls from below may be - no one can properly assess them who has not looked into them from above. Not even in the Dauphiné have I seen such a sudden, smooth demolition. A stone that breaks off the edge of the ridge falls hundreds of meters without hitting once. It is almost astonishing that the west side of this massive rocky mountain is relatively easy to walk on, while the north face plunges so suddenly into the depths, as if the whole mountain were cut off here. Smooth and absolutely inaccessible [...] »

- AW Moore : The Alps

Alpinists often associate the term “north face” with particular difficulties and dangers. In the Alps have steep walls only in northern mutual alignment major glaciations on. Due to the lack of solar radiation, it also takes longer until the icing on the rocky sections thaws after a sudden fall in the weather . In walls like the north face of the Eiger, freshly fallen snow triggers avalanches even with relatively small amounts of fresh snow due to the steepness . The north face of the Eiger was seen by many mountaineers as one of the “last problems” of the Alps, especially after the successful ascent of other north faces ( Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses ). Extreme storms can develop in the semicircular wall structure and temperatures can drop to -40 ° C. This also happens when the sky is clear around the wall. Even when a typical cold front breaks in from the northwest, the north side of the Eiger is the first high obstacle, and the weather on the front is particularly intense here.

The development of materials in the alpine equipment sector has made a decisive contribution to the feasibility of the Eiger north face. Crampons with up to ten points have been used since the mid-19th century. It was only with the twelve-pointed models that had been available since 1938 that tours in steep ice became possible. When using such irons, there was no need to hack the steps in the ice. However, twelve-point crampons were very expensive at the time. Since 1911, next to were climbing rope and rock and snap hook used. Only the associated securing via fixed points enabled a safety standard that allowed climbing through heavy walls. Despite these improvements, climbing remained dangerous; the fuses were deceptive. Since the rope was tied around the body without a climbing harness at that time , serious internal injuries usually occurred in large falls.

Attempts and first ascent

North-east and north walls, separated by the north pillar

The first documented ambitions to climb the wall are attributed to the Ramsau mountain guide Johann Grill . When he and his guest John P. Farrar were on their way to a Virgo crossing in 1883, the wall fascinated him so much that he could only be prevented from entering with great difficulty. The face was first climbed in 1911. The Grindelwald mountain guide Christen Almer and his Zermatt colleague Joseph Schaler climbed with the Englishman PH Thorp from the Kleine Scheidegg to below the Eigerwand station, from where they were pulled up with the help of a rope.

On August 20, 1932, the Swiss Hans Lauper and Alfred Zürcher with the mountain guides Josef Knubel from St. Niklaus and Alexander Graven from Zermatt managed to climb the northeast face for the first time in one day without artificial aids. Heinrich Harrer speaks in this regard of the last major first ascent in the classic style, which the pimple opened to the best Swiss mountain guides. This first route through the north face of the Eiger is known today as the Lauper route . The route goes over 55 degrees steep ice fields and has difficulty climbing of V on.

The first serious attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger by Max Sedlmayr and Karl Mehringer from Munich in August 1935 ended in tragedy. The two had chosen a direct route and reached the second ice field on the second day, where they were surprised by a sudden fall in the weather. Three days later, the climbers were spotted in the area of ​​the iron before their trail was lost. Attempts by mountain rescuers and experienced alpinists to reach the troubled Munich residents failed in the following days due to the icy rocks and fresh snow. A month later the crew of an airplane discovered one of the lifeless bodies at the level of the third ice field; this place has since been called "death bivouac". A special feature was the fact that a mountain tragedy had been observed for the first time by onlookers with telescopes.

The next attempt at the first ascent took place in July 1936 by the Germans Anderl Hinterstoißer and Toni Kurz as well as the Austrians Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer , who had embarked as separate two-person ropes on a route that the Austrians had explored west of the Sedlmayr / Mehringer route. In the course of the ascent, the rope teams joined together and reached the first ice rink through a crossway opened by Hinterstoißer, which still bears his name today. The next day, the climbers were observed crossing the second ice field before visibility deteriorated. On the third day, the four climbers were still at the level of the iron or the second ice field, before the observers in the valley noticed that the climbers were on their way down. In addition, the telescopes showed that one of them must have been injured. On the descent, the four climbers got caught in a storm and were probably hit by an avalanche, which only Toni Kurz survived. Mountain rescuers who had climbed could not reach Kurz and had to leave him on the wall overnight. The next day Toni Kurz died while trying to abseil himself to the rescuers. The rescue of the accident victims lasted until the summer of next year, and Sedlmayr's body was also found.

Three days after the death of the mountaineers, the government of the canton of Bern issued a ban on climbing the north face of the Eiger. This was legally not tenable and was repealed in November 1936. However, the alpine rescue stations were released from their duty to provide assistance on the north face of the Eiger.

In July 1937, Bertl Gollackner from Salzburg and his rope partner Franz Primas reached the north face of the Eiger. They climbed into the northeast face in order to explore the north face from there for a first ascent. Since they expected a return to the base of the wall on the same day, they were traveling without bivouac material and with only a few provisions. Due to the difficulties in the wall, the onset of bad weather and a fall from a rope by Primas, the two had to spend one night each in the wall and on the middle riser. On the further ascent, Gollackner died of exhaustion after two more nights, while Primate was rescued by mountain guides after another night around 200 meters below the summit.

Eiger north face with the Jungfrau Railway tunnel station, to the right of it further tunnel holes at about the same height.

Mathias Rebitsch tried in August 1937 together with Ludwig Vörg to climb the Eiger north face. They came a few pitches over the death bivouac and had to retreat after a sudden fall in the weather. This was the first successful retreat from a great wall height after they had stayed there from August 11th to 14th. They were helped by the fact that they had left a rope in the Hinterstoisser cross-corridor.

In June 1938, the Italians Mario Menti and Bortolo Sandri fell to their deaths at the height of the difficult crack after the two were surprised by a thunderstorm. The two young alpinists and workers from Veneto were the victims eight and nine on the Eiger north face. The first ascent was finally made a month later by the Germans Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Vörg , as well as the Austrians Fritz Kasparek and Heinrich Harrer . The two rope teams had stepped onto the wall separately. Heckmair and Vörg feared bad weather and initially got down again. In addition to Harrer and Kasparek, there was another rope team on the wall at this point, but they also retreated after an injury. In the early morning of July 22nd, Heckmair and Vörg climbed the wall again and reached Harrer and Kasparek between the second and third ice rink. They benefited from the steps they had already taken, but were also faster thanks to their twelve-point crampons - Kasparek only had ten-pointers and Harrer had no crampons at all. Both teams continued to climb separately, with Heckmair taking the lead. After they had already supported each other several times, the rope teams finally joined forces after having survived an avalanche together. After two more nights of bivouac and three days of climbing together in bad weather and with constant avalanches, the summit of the Eiger was reached for the first time via the north face at half past three on the night of July 24th.

Inspections until 1960

Eiger and surroundings at night. In the north face you can see the lighting of the Eigerwand station

In August 1946 the Swiss Edwin Krähenbühl and Hans Schlunegger reached the ramp ice rink before they retired the following day due to a sudden fall in the weather. The first repetition of the Heckmair route was made in July 1947 by the French Lionel Terray and Louis Lachenal . The third ascent was undertaken by the Swiss Hans and Karl Schlunegger with Gottfried Jermann in August of the same year, when they were accompanied by a storm from the height of the ramp ice field.

In July 1950 the Austrians Leo Forstenlechner and Erich Waschak climbed the north face of the Eiger for the first time in one day when they finished the tour within 18 hours. They overtook the Swiss Jean Fuchs, Marcel Hamel, Raymond Monney and Robert Seiler, who secured the fifth ascent a day later.

In the summer of 1952 there was a real rush on the north face of the Eiger, with the French Maurice Coutin and Pierre Julien making the sixth ascent on July 23. Four days later, the two Austrians Josef Larch and Karl Winter reached the summit on the seventh ascent. On July 29, the eighth ascent by the rope teams Hermann Buhl / Sepp Jöchler and Otto Maag / Sepp Maag, as well as the French Jean Bruneau, Paul Habran, Pierre Leroux, Guido Magnone and Gaston Rébuffat succeeded . The three rope teams had joined forces in the upper part of the wall and only separated again on the summit ice field. Rébuffat is the first alpinist to reach the three great north faces of the Alps. The ninth ascent was made by the Austrians Karl Lugmayer , Hans Ratay and Erich Vanis on August 8, the tenth ascent was carried out on August 15 by Karl Blach and Jürgen Wellenkamp. Siegfried Jungmaier and Karl Reiss were able to secure the eleventh ascent, whereby they also attempted to climb the wall step between the death bivouac and the spider.

In August 1953, Ueli Wyss and Karlheinz Gonda climbed the north face of the Eiger and attempted a direct ascent from the iron to the spider. Although they later had a fatal accident on the summit ice field, the twelfth ascent was credited to them. Five days later, Albert Hirschbichler and Erhard Riedl made it through as the thirteenth rope team.

In August 1957 the "Corti-Drama" about the Italians Claudio Corti and Stefano Longhi and the Germans Günter Nothdurft and Franz Mayer occurred . The Italians had climbed through the wall east of the normal route and had been overtaken by the Germans in the area of ​​the Hinterstoisser traverse. The two rope teams did not stick to the normal route, but looked for a transition to the spider around 150 meters above the cross between the gods, where Longhi fell into the rope and was stuck on a ledge. At this point the Italians had been in the wall for six days, the Germans for four. Before the exit cracks, Corti was hit by falling rocks and could no longer continue. This place still bears the name "Corti-Bivouac" today. The Germans wanted to get help and were able to climb the wall, but had a fatal accident on the descent and probably only missed the ascending rescue workers by hours. Two days later, about 70 alpinists and rescue workers from five nations were involved in Corti's rescue, who took Corti out of the wall using a steel cable device anchored on the summit ridge and thus carried out the first successful rescue from the north face of the Eiger. For Stefano Longhi, any help came too late at this point. His body was only recovered two years later, with considerable expenditure of time and personnel. The bodies of Nothdurft and Mayer were only found in September 1961 on the western flank. They were posthumously awarded the 14th ascent. The first ascent in Italy was not made until August 1962 by a rope team under Armando Aste .

In August 1958, Kurt Diemberger and Wolfgang Stefan made the 15th ascent. Lukas Albrecht and Adolf Derungs reached the summit as the 16th rope team in August 1959, followed by Ernst Forrer and Peter Diener in September of the same year.

1960 to 1970

From 1960 attempts began to climb the Eiger north face alone, in winter, or on new routes. Lothar Brandler , Jörg Lehne and Siegfried Löw failed when attempting a first winter ascent in February 1960, as did Josef Larch and Karl Frehsner a few days later.

From March 6 to 12, 1961, Walter Almberger , Toni Kinshofer , Anderl Mannhardt and Toni Hiebeler made the first winter ascent of the Eiger north face. Although the climbers did not finish the wall in one go, but in February to the tunnel hole and a week later after a bad weather onset, the tour was approved.

The Tyrolean Adi Mayr fell to his death on August 28, 1961 in the first attempt at solo ascent from the area of ​​the waterfall chimney after he had reached the area of ​​the death bivouac the day before and stayed there overnight. Two further solo ascent attempts in 1962 also ended fatally; The Swiss Adolf Derungs had an accident on July 31st below the Hinterstoißer-Querganges, the Austrian Diether Marchart on August 27th in the area of ​​the ice tube. In addition, a first attempt by a woman failed that year when the Swiss Loulou Boulaz and her companions Michel Darbellay , Yvette Attinger and Michel Vaucher had to break off due to bad weather. Darbellay managed the first solo ascent of the Eiger north face from August 2nd to 3rd, 1963, after Walter Bonatti failed in July at the level of the second ice field.

From August 13th to 15th, 1962, the first-time climber Walter Almberger climbed the north face of the Eiger again and was accompanied by Klaus Hoi , Hugo Stelzig and Adi Weißensteiner. He became the first mountaineer to climb the north face of the Eiger in summer and winter.

In August 1963 the two Spaniards Alberto Rabadá and Ernesto Navarro died in the area of ​​the spider after they had stepped into the wall four days earlier and had been surprised by a sudden fall in the weather. When the Spaniards were rescued in December, the Swiss Paul Etter , Ueli Gantenbein and Sepp Henkel were the first to descend through the entire north face within three days.

In January 1964, Werner Bittner , Rainer Kauschke, Peter Siegert and Gerd Uhner failed in a four-day attempt at a direct route ( Direttissima ) through the north face. From September 1st to 4th, 1964, Daisy Voog was the first woman to climb the north face of the Eiger. It was led by Werner Bittner involved in the Direttissima attempt. Overall it was the 51st ascent.

In August 1965 Mitsumasa Takada managed, under dramatic circumstances, the first Japanese ascent of the Heckmair Route, which had been hotly contested since the early 1960s. After he and Tsuneaki Watabe got into a storm on the second day at the level of the third ice field, they had to fight their way through the icy and snow-covered wall from the next day. They were forced to spend a third night in the exit cracks and by the fourth day they had already had their greatest difficulties when Watabe fell under the summit ice rink and was injured in the rope. Takada made the last 300 meters unsecured to the summit and was able to descend over the western flank that same night and alert help. Watabe, however, had died fatally in the meantime; his body was recovered in the area of ​​the wall porch.

From February to March 1966 an English-American-German rope team opened a Direttissima route through the north face and named it after John Harlin , who fell victim to a rope break below the spider and thus led to the merger of the three separately operating rope teams. The climbers included Dougal Haston , Siegfried Hupfauer , Jörg Lehne , Chris Bonington , Don Whillans , Günther Strobel and Karl Golikow .

The Frenchman Roland Trivellini disappeared without a trace in March 1967 when he tried to go this route alone. Four months later, Fritz Eske , Günter Kalkbrenner, Kurt Richter and Günter Warmuth fell to their deaths below the Hinterstoißer cross-corridor in poor visibility. The four of them had moved around the wall without a rope. By September 1, 1967, the French Christine de Colombel was only the second woman to climb the wall; She was accompanied by her compatriot Jack Sangnier.

From July to August 1969, a Japanese team opened a second Direttissima route with a huge amount of material, which runs over the partially overhanging Rote Fluh. The “Japanese Direttissima” or “Summer Direttissima” was repeated in January 1970 by the Swiss Otto von Allmen, Max Dörfliger, Peter Junge, Hans Müller and Hanspeter Trachsel. The first winter rescue from the north face of the Eiger also took place in January, when the Japanese Kenji Kimura, who was injured in the leg, was pulled up from the cracks using a steel cable device.

1970 to 1980

Mountaineer in the second ice field (1979).

In September 1971 climbers were first rescued from the north face by helicopter, when the pilot Günther Amann flew the two Germans Peter Siegert and Martin Biock from the edge of the second ice field. The Germans had got caught in a sudden fall in the weather and had lost their food stove, had been in the wall for three days and had unwittingly made rescue more difficult by descending from the death bivouac.

In August 1974, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler set a ten-hour speed record for rope teams on the Heckmair route and overtook three other rope teams on the wall.

In August 1976 the Czechs Jiří Smíd, Sylva Kysilková, Petr Plachecky and Josef Rybička opened a new route through the north face, which is west of the Japanese Direttissima. The “Czech Pillar” runs in the lower part through the right side of the Roten Fluh and ends as the first route not on the summit, but already at about 3700 m on the west ridge. The "Czech Route II" was built from January to February 1978 in the eastern part of the wall and also does not go to the summit.

From March 3rd to 9th, 1978, the Japanese Tsuneo Hasegawa managed the first winter solo ascent of the Heckmair route, just ahead of the French Ivano Ghirardini, who climbed all three major north faces of the Alps in winter for the first time this season.

In April 1978 an attempt by a Czech group to open a new Direttissima route between the existing ones failed. After Dieter Smeikal was flown out of the second ice field with severe frostbite on April 24, Jiří Pechouš and Jiří Šlégl fell to their deaths from above the spider five days later. In August 1979 Michel Piola and Gérard Hopfgartner completed the first modern free climbing route with the “Geneva Pillar”.

1980 to 1990

In February 1980, Claudia Heissenberger from Vorarlberg became the first woman to complete the winter ascent. She was accompanied by Wolfgang Loacker, Beat Kammerlander , Dietmar Galehr and the 17-year-old Wilfried Amann, the youngest climber to the north face up to that point.

In 1981 the Briton Eric Jones single-handedly climbed the Heckmair route and was filmed by Leo Dickinson, who had been dropped off by a helicopter in the area of ​​the death bivouac. Jones had already climbed the north face with rope partners in 1970. The documentary "Eiger Solo" was created from the film material, which for the first time enabled close insights from the wall and climbing into it.

In August 1981, the Swiss Ueli Bühler set a new speed record when he climbed the Heckmair route in eight hours. Two days later , Marcel Rüedi , Hans Howald and Christel Howald cracked the difficult, approximately 1300 m high northern intersection in the eastern wall section. Just one day after this success, the three-person rope team also climbed the classic Heckmair route.

In the summer of 1982, two new free climbing routes were created in the western part of the wall by the soloist Franček Knez ("Knez route") and the Swiss Kaspar Ochsner and Urs Brunner ("loophole"). From March to April 1983 the Slovak Pavel Pochylý climbed an ideal direttissima from the foot of the wall to the summit, following the Mehringer / Sedlmayr route from 1935 to the second ice field and a route explored by the Czechs in 1978 in the upper part. Thomas Bubendorfer set a new speed record in July 1983 when he climbed the Heckmair route in four and a half hours. A few days earlier he had explored the route with Peter Rohrmoser.

In July 1983, a new Direttissima route was created through the western part of the wall, which leads over the most prominent pillar above the Roten Fluh at 1400 meters. It is named after its lovers, Michel Piola and René Ghilini. Another difficult route through the north face was opened with the “Toni Hiebeler Memorial Path” in March 1985 by the three Czechs Jiří Šmíd, Michal Pitelka and Čestmír Lukeš. In July 1985 the "Slovenian route" followed in the eastern part of the wall through Franček Knez, Marjan Frešer and Dani Tic. In September 1985 Daniel H. Anker was the first to complete the northern intersection on his own .

In the following time, mountaineers in the Eiger north face concentrated on repeating already known routes. Smaller new routes through short wall sections received less attention or, due to their combination with existing routes, were not recognized as independent tours. The 15-hour ascent of the Japanese Direttissima by Heinz and Ueli Bühler in February 1989 should also be emphasized.

1990 to 2000

The decade began in January with the 27-hour solo ascent of the John Harlin Direttissima by the Slovenian Slavko Svetičič. From February to March 1991, the “Métanoïa”, a new large north face route, was opened by the American Jeff Lowe single-handedly and without bolts; a repetition of this difficult tour was only possible in December 2016 by the three-party team Thomas Huber , Roger Schäli and Stephan Siegrist .

On March 10, 1992, Catherine Destivelle made alpine history after being the first woman to climb the Heckmair route alone, in winter and within a day. In the summer of 1994, a Dutch rope team was rescued from the upper part of the Geneva pillar for the first time using longline technology by helicopter. The first night rescue from the wall took place in January 1996 when a poorly equipped Swiss rope team had to be flown out of the Götterquergang.

In October 1997, the Italian Benedetto Salaroli, at the age of 72, climbed the Heckmair route from the Stollenloch to the summit as the oldest mountaineer to date, and was led by Ueli Bühler and Kobi Reichen.

In September 1999 the mountain guides Evelyne Binsack , Stephan Siegrist , Hansruedi Gertsch and Ralf Dujmovits climbed the Heckmair route for television in front of and with the cameras running . “Eiger north face live” was broadcast on the internet.

2000 to 2010

North view of the Eiger

In August 2000 Daniel H. Anker and Stephan Siegrist completed the route “La vida es silbar”, the most demanding route through the Eiger north face in terms of free climbing up to that point. The tour is about 900 meters high and leads from the Stollenloch over the Rote Fluh and the Czech pillar to the west ridge. Anker and Siegrist had been working on the route since 1998.

On September 12, 2000, Englishman Matthew Hayes and New Zealander Phillip O'Sullivan fell to their deaths from the second ice field; the accident was filmed by a British television station and watched by writer Joe Simpson , who later described the experience in his book "The Beckoning Silence".

Stephan Siegrist and Ueli Steck opened a new north face route in October 2001 with “The Young Spider”, which leads from the Eigerwand station in a direct line via the death bivouac and the spider to the summit wall. It is the first direct north face route to the summit since the Ideal Direttissima of 1983.

Stephan Siegrist and Michal Pitelka climbed the Heckmair route in August 2002 with the equipment of the first climbers from 1938 for the documentary film "Eiger North Face - On the trail of the first climbers", filmed by Thomas Ulrich . Pitelka already knew the route from a solo ascent in 1992, Siegrist had already mastered this classic climb three times.

It was also Siegrist who, together with Ueli Steck, set the speed record for rope teams on the Heckmair route in July 2004; the two climbed through the wall in nine hours and undercut the record set by Messner / Habeler in 1974 by one hour. In March 2003, Christoph Hainz set a new solo speed record of four and a half hours on the Heckmair route. This marked the beginning of numerous speed records in the years to come.

In January 2005, the Italians Claudio Chiaudano and Roberto Moreschi fell to their deaths in the area of ​​the broken pillar for reasons that were not clear. According to the author Rainer Rettner, it was already the deaths 62 and 63 on the Eiger north face.

Almost 40 years after the death of his father in 1966, John Harlin III climbed the Eiger North Face in September 2005 with Robert Jasper and Daniela Jasper . The film "The Alps" shot in the process was released in the cinemas in spring 2007.

In February 2006 a Russian rope team opened a new Direttissima from the base of the wall to the summit. The "Russian Direttissima" opened by Yevgeny Dmitrienko, Vladimir Archipov, Pawel Malygin and Dmitri Tsyganow runs near the Pochylý route.

On February 21, 2007, Ueli Steck set a new record in the Heckmair route when he managed the tour alone in just 3 hours and 54 minutes. On February 13, 2008, he set his own record of 2 hours and 47 minutes. The rope team record was also broken in January when Simon Anthamatten and Roger Schäli climbed the north face in 6 hours and 50 minutes. Just one month later, Dani Arnold and Stephan Ruoss broke this record by 40 minutes.

At the end of March 2009, Fabian Eberli and Ueli Frey climbed the Heckmair route before they were killed in a sudden fall in the weather on the western flank. Due to the weather conditions, they could only be recovered a week later. In August 2009 Robert Jasper and Roger Schäli managed the first free ascent of the Japanese Direttissima.

Since 2010

On July 31, 2010, the brothers Stefan and Robert Dietrich fell below the tunnel and died.

In October 2010, Ueli Steck and Bruno Schläppi climbed the Eiger on the Heckmair route in 5 hours and 3 minutes, a new rope team record. In February 2011 Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl undercut this time by 38 minutes.

In April 2011 Dani Arnold climbed this route alone in 2 hours and 28 minutes. In doing so, however, he used fixed ropes in the Hinterstoisser cross-corridor and in the exit cracks .

In 2011 the experienced Giovanni Quirici from Ticino had an accident on the Geneva pillar and in 2013 an Austrian in the area of ​​the Lauper route. This has exceeded the mark of 70 deaths on the wall.

On November 11, 2015, Ueli Steck and Nicolas Hojac set a new speed record for a rope team on the Heckmair route when they completed the tour in 3 hours and 46 minutes. On November 16, 2015, Ueli Steck also set a new record for a solo ascent of the route in 2 hours and 22 minutes.

On March 31, 2017, at the age of 74 , Peter Habeler climbed the Heckmair route with David Lama and thus became the oldest north face climber to date. The film material of this inspection became a sequence for the Bergwelten series by ServusTV .

First ascent and National Socialism

During the Olympic Games of 1936 , Adolf Hitler promised the first to climb the Eiger north face a gold medal. The German ambassador to Austria, Franz von Papen , signed the so-called July Agreement with Austria on July 11, 1936 , which Germany saw as a preliminary stage to the annexation of Austria . The German propaganda took with joy the news on that at the foot of the Eiger waited rope teams from Germany and Austria to be able to go into the wall. A common ascent and summit victory would have been a welcome symbol for a union on a political level.

Model of the NS-Ordensburg Sonthofen, where Heckmair and Vörg were employed at the time of the first ascent

In 1938 the NS-Ordensburg Sonthofen was looking for mountain guides , whereupon Ludwig Vörg, who was already an educator for sports at the Ordensburg, found Anderl Heckmair a job. For their plan to climb the north face of the Eiger, the two were given free official scope by their superiors. They were also offered money to finance, but refused. They only accepted an offer to complete the equipment. This enabled them to afford the expensive, modern equipment.

Even before the Eiger expedition , Harrer had joined the SS (from April 1, 1938) and the NSDAP (from May 1, 1938). He became a sports instructor of the SS with the rank of SS-Oberscharführer , an activity which, according to his own admission, he never carried out. Harrer later called these accessions a “stupid mistake” and “ideological error”.

After the first ascent, the Nazi propaganda celebrated the success as “a testimony to our youth's indomitable will to win”. Karl Prusik says: "A people who have such sons cannot perish!" quoted. For Hitler, the company was proof of the superiority of the German master race. In Breslau he received the first-time climber quartet, whose progress on the wall he had regularly received reports. In 1938, the central publishing house of the NSDAP published the book Um die Eiger-Nordwand , in which the four first climbers report on their experiences.

The accusation that they tried and climbed the north face "for the National Socialists" was denied by the first climbers. But they were aware that success could have a positive impact on their future lives. Harrer, for example, hoped that the responsible authorities would become aware of him and that he would have the opportunity to take part in an expedition to Nanga Parbat . After Heinrich Himmler had successfully climbed through, Fritz Kasparek personally received the offer to join the SS, which he accepted.


Heckmair route

The Heckmair route
Route section «Spider»

The most famous and now common route through the Eiger north face is the first-time climber, the Heckmair route . It is assessed with the overall difficulty SS and when climbing the V level must be mastered. The mountaineer can expect two to three days of climbing, the length of the tour is due to the many crossways; the wall height of 1,800 meters becomes a climbing route of four kilometers.

Altogether there are 17 prominent, named places along the route. After entering west of the First Pillar, the route leads relatively directly up the wall before it bends west towards the tunnel hole. At the height of the tunnel hole you turn to the east. After another change of direction, the difficult crack is reached, which holds difficulties from V, A0 for climbers and is the first key point of the route. The ascending line follows the course of the Roten Fluh , a bright, smooth wall section without entering it. This is how the mountaineer reaches the Hinterstoißer traverse . The 30 meter wide rock slab is secured with fixed ropes so that a climbing maneuver like that of the first slab climber Hinterstoißer is no longer necessary. The swallow's nest , a popular bivouac after the first quarter of the climbing route, joins the traverse . Via the first ice field and the ice tube , the route strives towards the second ice field . After overcoming it, the route runs eastwards towards the iron , a rock spur that separates the second and third ice rinks. A little further up, the climbers reach the death bivouac . The name of this popular bivouac after half the climbing route is due to the fact that the Germans Mehringer and Sedelmayr were last seen alive there. The third ice field joins the death bivouac and the path leads to the ramp . In this is the waterfall chimney (difficulty V, A0), after which the ramp ice rink follows. Cross the Brittle Band (Brittle Riss) to the west, crossing the Götterquergang . At the end of it the spider is waiting , a firn field in the summit wall. Firn couloirs that lead into the spider from above and those that lead out of the spider below give the impression of a huge spider. Following the route upwards, the climber reaches the exit cracks and continues to climb to the Corti bivouac . Claudio Corti had stayed here until he was saved. The ascent goes up to the summit ice field , from which the Heckmair north face route ends on the Mittellegigrat. Following this upwards the summit is reached.

Other routes

The routes from 1932 to 1969

The levels of difficulty listed below can be found under the SAC mountain and high-altitude tour scale (AS and others) and climbing difficulties (V, 7c, A2 and others).

After climbing the north face, it took 28 years before a new route was opened in the face in 1966. The international team (including Jörg Lehne and Karl Golikow ) named this new route (difficulty AS +) after their comrade John-Harlin -Direttissima (mixed: M8-; rock: red point 7a; E5) who died in a crash . Two years later, the north pillar (edge ​​between north wall and north-east wall) was first climbed in summer . First, a Polish team climbed the north face and climbed to the north pillar in order to get to the Lauper route a little east of this (named after the leader of the first climber: Hans Lauper). A day later, Reinhold and Günther Messner , Toni Hiebeler and Fritz Maschke, also a little to the east , succeeded in direct ascent from the foot of the north pillar (SS) . In 1969, the Japanese Direttissima (AS +, Rotpunkt 8a) followed, a direct line to the summit that was won during the first ascent through the use of a lot of material and time.

In 1970 a Scottish team succeeded in ascending the Scots Route (AS) directly over the north pillar. It took another six years before Czechs opened the Czech Route (EX) in 1976 . It emerges from the Heckmair route at the level of the tunnel hole and strives over the western part of the Roten Fluh to the west ridge, where it ends. Two years later, the Czechs opened another route, the Second Czech Route , which begins from the John Harlin Direttissima and flows over the north pillar into the Lauper Route. In 1979, two Swiss people first climbed the Geneva Pillar and named the route that ends on the west ridge Les Portes du Chaos (AS, V).

The routes from 1970 to 1988

In July 1980 the lower, direct west ridge was first climbed. In 1981 three Swiss climbed the northern intersection (AS, VII-) over the Geneva pillar , a route that was logical for the natural conditions. In 1982 the Slovenian solo climber Franček Knez (SS +, IV +) and the Swiss Ochsner-Brunner (SS +, V) opened up two new routes in the western part of the wall . Three new ones followed in 1983: Pavel Pochylý from Slovakia first opened the Ideal-Direttissima (AS) solo , then followed the first real sport climbing route Spit verdonesque édenté (EX, VIII, A1 or X-) in the western part of the wall and then in 1983 the Piola-Ghilini-Direttissima (EX-) over the most prominent pillar west of the Roten Fluh. In 1985 two new routes were once again taken, first the Hiebeler Memorial Path , which emerges from the lower Heckmair route , runs east into the middle of the wall and then leads east of the Czech route to the west ridge, then the Slovenes route (AS, VII ) in the eastern part of the wall over the north pillar into the Lauper route . In the anniversary year of 1988, the last three routes of the 1980s were opened. From the Portes du Chaos two Swiss opened the route Eigersanction (AS, VII, named after the film from the year 1975). A little further to the east, a group of Indonesians climbed the Gelber Engel line (EX, VII) in expedition style . Similar to the direct West Ridge route, two Swiss people again opened the Locherspiel route , which they named after the holes in the rock.

The routes from 1991 to 2008

At the beginning and end of the 1990s, two more routes were first climbed. In 1991 the American Jeff Lowe climbed the Métanoïa route single-handedly . This leads between the Heckmair route and John-Harlin-Direttissima into the Ideal-Direttissima . In 1992, two Swiss completed their route Le Chant du Cygne (EX, VII) on the Geneva Pillar, which they had started the year before. In 1998, Italians climbed the Yeti (EX +, IX +) route between the northern intersection and the Eigersanction . In 1999 the German extreme mountaineers Robert Jasper and Daniela Jasper combined the Chant du Cygne with the Spit verdonesque through the Symphonie de liberté (8a, X-UIAA) , they created the first 8a which was climbed in a large alpine north face.

From the tunnel hole, two Swiss climbed relatively directly over the Rote Fluh in 2000 and called the path La Vida es Silbar (French 7c, IX +). The route Deep blue sea (EX +, IX-) west of the Spit verdonesque takes its name from the bluish shimmer of the rock in which it runs. It was first climbed by two Swiss people in 2001. In autumn of the same year, the direct north face route The Young Spider (EX +, 7a / A2, WI6, M7) followed. In 2002 came the Griff ins Licht (7c, M5) on the north pillar and in 2006 the Krasnoyarsk Direttissima . In 2003 the Yeti became the route Magic Mushroom (7c +; named after a mushroom-shaped rock pillar on which the route ends) from the Dynamite Hole to the west ridge. Paciencia (8a or X-) is the 33rd route in the north face. Since the first ascent of this route in 2003, the first climbers tried to climb this red point before giving it an official name. This was achieved in August 2008. In 2009, Robert Jasper and Roger Schäli managed the first free ascent of the Japanese route (August 28–31 , 2009, 8a, X-UIAA) and then in 2013 the first free ascent of the Piola-Ghilini-Direttissima ( IX) In 2015, the first ascent of the so far most difficult route "Odyssey" X- / 8a + through the Eiger north face followed by Robert Jasper and his climbing partners Roger Schaeli and Simon Gietel.

North Face in Literature and Film

Around 50 fictional works were written on the subject of the Eiger and, for the most part, the north face of the Eiger. These include novels , stories , plays , poems , as well as an epic and a comic .

In 1936, the first Eiger book, Der Kampf um die Eiger Nordwand , was published just a few weeks after the short rope team died . This was followed by the wall. Diary of a young mountaineer by Erika Jemelin, which is a fictional diary by Toni Kurz, as well as the verse epic Das Drama am Eiger by Theo Lütolf. In 1938 Gustav Renker wrote the novel Destiny in the North Face , in which the north face is a symbol of the struggle between man and nature. Nine works were written in the second phase of the "Eiger sensation" from 1956 to 1966. In 1956 Ernst Nobs wrote the novella Die Wand , in which an American woman tries to climb the wall. In 1959, Oswald Frey published the book Im Schatten der große Wand about the real mountaineer Alfred Derung. The novel Die Nordwand by Otto Zinniker seeks explanations as to why people climb mountaineers extremely. The Corti drama is worked up in 1960 in Eigerjagd (original title: The Man on the End of the Rope ) by Paul Townend, who critically questions the role of the press in the North Face hype. The Corti theme is also taken up by Whit Masterson in Man on a Nylon String in 1963 , the hero of the book trying to rescue Douglas Holden (aka Stefano Longhi, see above) from the wall. 1970 In the order of the dragon (original title: The Eiger Sanction ) by the pseudonym Trevanian , a spy thriller, in which there is fighting in the north face. In Bob Langley's 1980 thriller Traverse of the Gods , the main character finds a German Wehrmacht soldier on the north face. In 1983 the Irishman Dermot Somers linked the infernal north face with the apocalypse of a nuclear war in the short story Fall of Darkness . In the book La face de l'ogre by the French Simone Desmaison, the reader gets an insight into the psyche of mountaineers and their women who are left behind at the entrance. The books Flash-back sur l'Eiger and The Fall by Daniel Grevoz and Simon Mawer, published in 2000 and 2007, allow the main characters to follow in Toni Kurz's footsteps.

The north face also plays a more or less central role in some films. There are documentaries and feature films that deal with the north face of the Eiger or in which it forms a backdrop. The wall was filmed for the first time in 1936 for the work Die Eiger-Nordwand . As part of Toni Kurz's rescue, Max Hermann accompanied the rescuers through the wall with a small camera. The accompanying film of a real ascent of the north face on the Heckmair route seemed particularly attractive. At first, the technical and mountaineering problems were too great for this and several attempts failed, for example in 1958 and 1959. As an alternative, the mountaineers on the north face were filmed from the ridges. Leo Dickinson finally succeeded in 1970, who used it to create the film Out of the Shadows into the Sun. Another documentary is the film North Face - Murder Wall , in which a 1988 ascent was filmed. In between, Heinrich Harrer and Anderl Heckmair talk about their ascent. Several documentaries were also made, in which primarily the historical events of 1935 and 1936 were re-enacted. In 1962 Luis Trenker shot his last film His best friend on the Eiger , depicting the ascent of the north face. The book On behalf of the dragon was made into a film by and with Clint Eastwood under the same name . In 1980, Gerhard Baur prepared the tragedy of 1936 as a feature film for Bayerischer Rundfunk. The special thing about this work is that all scenes were filmed at the original locations. The film has received many national and international awards. In 2008 the feature film Nordwand by Philipp Stölzl was released . The drama from 1936 was also prepared for the cinema. There is also more recent film material from the inspections as part of the Eiger-Live program on Swiss television in 1999, and an inspection in historical clothing and equipment was filmed in 2000. The latest documentary is Michael Gambo's IMAX film The Alps over the Swiss Alps, which also captures a climb of the north face in 2007.


Web links

Commons : Eiger  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger. The vertical arena . 4th edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 12.
  2. ^ Toni P. Labhart: Geology of Switzerland. 5. revised Edition. Ott Verlag, Thun 2001, p. 78ff.
  3. ^ Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena. 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 12.
  4. ^ Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena. 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 302 f.
  5. Quoted from Heinrich Harrer: The white spider. The big book from the Eiger. 5th edition. Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 2006, p. 21.
  6. Ralf-Peter Märtin : Excursus three: Eiger or death. In: Ralf-Peter Märtin: Nanga Parbat. Truth and madness of alpinism . Berlin Verlag Taschenbuch 2004, ISBN 3-8333-0093-0 , p. 202.
  7. ^ Roman Büttner: Nightmare of the Alps. einestages.spiegel.de, 2008, accessed on May 5, 2009 .
  8. Ralf-Peter Märtin: Excursus three: Eiger or death. In: Ralf-Peter Märtin: Nanga Parbat. Truth and madness of alpinism . Bvt Berliner Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2004, p. 213.
  9. Upgrade: The way to the highest peaks. 3sat.de, 2008, accessed on May 5, 2009 .
  10. ^ Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena. 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 281ff.
  11. ^ Heinrich Harrer: The White Spider , Ullstein, Berlin, 1958, pages 19 and 60
  12. The Unknown Drama
  13. From the wall of death to the wall of victory
  14. Heinrich Harrer: The white spider. The big book from the Eiger. 5th edition. Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 2006, pp. 71-131.
  15. Anderl Heckmair: Ausstiegsrisse - Die Durchsteigung 1938. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 228ff.
  16. Solina, l'impresa dell'Eiger cinquant'anni dopo
  17. [1]
  18. El drama de Rabadá y Navarro en la pared norte del Eiger
  19. Tragedy in the fog on the north face of the Eiger
  20. ^ Eiger - north face: First helicopter recovery
  21. 03 / P7: Homage to Leo Dickinson  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.daskino.at  
  22. https://www.eigernorthface.ch/de/eiger-chronik.html?file=files/content/enw/PDF-Datein/Detaillierte_Eiger_Chronik.pdf
  23. Jeff Lowe's Metanoia
  24. Helicopter pilot honored for rescue operation in the north face of the Eiger
  25. The oldest climber on the north face is celebrating its anniversary
  26. Climbers who plunge in Swiss Alps
  27. On the trail of Heckmair
  28. The two dead from the Eiger
  29. spiegel.de: Steck made the north face of the Eiger in two hours and 22 minutes
  30. Extreme mountaineer Peter Habeler conquers the Eiger north face again at the age of 74
  31. https://www.bergwelten.com/a/bergwelten-peter-habeler-ich-will-die-welt-von-oben-sehen
  32. a b c d Rainer Amstädter: Spider - Hitler climbed with. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 220ff.
  33. Rainer Amstädter: Hinterstoisser Traverse - heroes or victims. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 77f.
  34. Wiliam Cole, AP: Heinrich Harrer is dead. In: Der Spiegel , January 7, 2006. Online
  35. a b Rainer Amstädter: Spider - Hitler climbed with. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 223.
  36. a b Info: Eiger. In: Tour book. alpin.de, 2006, accessed on May 5, 2009 .
  37. ^ Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena. 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 6.
  38. Daniela Jasper: Robert Jasper and Roger Schaeli achieve another milestone in the Eiger north face . climbing.de. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  39. Japanese route in the Eiger north face freely climbed for the first time . climbing.de. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  40. climbing: Jeff Lowe, b. 1950, USA. Retrieved January 27, 2017 .
  41. ^ Karl Hausmann, Bernd Rathmayr: Alpine Tours Bernese Alps: Part 4, Jungfrau Region , SAC Verlag, Bern 2010, ISBN 978-3-85902-308-6
  42. ^ Daniel H. Anker: Rote Fluh - The alpine development of the north side. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 90ff.
  43. Robert Jasper and Roger Schaeli manage the first free ascent of the Ghili-Piola Direttissima on the Eiger north face on www.climbing.de. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  44. https://www.climax-magazine.com/erstbegehung-an-der-eiger-nordwand/
  45. Daniel Anker: Götterquergang - Drama on the book wall. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 210ff.
  46. Markus Schwyn: Iron - Filming the Impossible. In: Daniel Anker (Ed.): Eiger - The vertical arena . 4. revised Edition. AS Verlag, Zurich 2008, p. 148.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on May 25, 2009 in this version .

Coordinates: 46 ° 34 ′ 44 "  N , 8 ° 0 ′ 23"  E ; CH1903:  six hundred and forty-three thousand five hundred twenty  /  158781