Eiger News

by Mick Ryan Eiger North Face Alpinists Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman just got down from the North face of the Eiger on Thursday (15th March), after a successful day and a half ascent of the classic 1938 route. Nick wrote to us: “Having a flat mate with an up-to date weather forcast got us there almost first. Ran´, Ian, and Kenton walked in about an hour after us and a German team an hour before…(although the Germans got a tad lost on the start meaning Andy Houseman and I had the face to ourselves for an hour or two!). The face is in great shape at the moment, but it´s set to crap out big on Sunday. All I can say is don´t be fooled, just because it was climbed in 1938, and Ueli soloed it in 4 hours it´s no pushover.” Ueli Steck zipped up the face in February. Dougald MacDonald at Climbing.com wrote: “Switzerland?s Ueli Steck has soloed the classic 1938 route on the North Face of the Eiger in 3 hours 54 minutes. Steck climbed the 6,000-vertical-foot route over two days in mid-February with a partner, and then returned three days later to solo it. He self-belayed a few pitches with a 15-meter loop of rope tied through an anchor and then pulled up after the crux, but otherwise free-soloed. It took him one and three-quarter hours to Death Bivouac; just under four hours to the top.” More at uelisteck.ch” Nick also mentioned Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Sir Ranulph is being guided up the Eiger by the UK alpinists Kenton Cool and Ian Parnell and is also attempting to raise £1.5 million for the Marie Curie Delivering Choice Programme and according to despatches at mariecurie.org.uk they are doing well and are at the Death Bivouac over half-way up the mile-high face, Sir Ranulphreports, ?On the first ice-field there was a tricky bit, but Kenton managed to find a way up OK, even though the bottom was all broken up. There were one or two nasty bits, where the ice is sludgy and your axe can?t grip. All of a sudden, from very high up above, an ice axe came wheeling down from god knows where, bouncing off the rocks as it careered to the bottom. Later an avalanche of ice and rock went very noisily down the ?ice-hose. Traversing the second ice-field was a concern as several years ago when Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void, was attempting the Eiger, two climbers died when they fell from the second ice-field, past Joe who was in Swallows Nest. That made me feel uneasy.? In other Eiger news, this month also sees the premier of the IMAX film, “The Alps” featuring John Harlin III who made an ascent of the Eiger North face in 2005. John Harlin III, editor of the American Alpine Journal, (see report below) is the son of John Harlin who perished on the North face whilst attempting a directissima in 1966. A fixed rope broke and Harlin fell to his death. Nearly forty years later, the younger Harlin followed his father?s steps on the Eirgernorwand. John Harlin III?s memoir, The Eiger Obsession is also being published by Simon & Schuster this month to coincide with the film release.Eiger factsHeight: 13,025 ft, 3,970 meters Location: Switzerland, Bernese Alps First climbed in 1858: Christian Almer and Peter Bohren and Irishman Charles Barrington North wall 6,000 ft high North Face first climbed 1938 by Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek First direct route 1966 by Haston, Lehne, Votteler and Hupfauer North Face deaths: More than 60 Classic book about: Harrer, Heinrich, The White Spider: The History of the Eiger´s North Face, translated from German, London, 1959 (revised 1965, 1979)