Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 14, 2012 - 01:07am PT
The man was always humble as a guide and as the main force behind the Eiger North face first ascent. Alpinist 40 has this picture of the alpinist in his youth, after the climb. For all the bullshit of the times these guys were real athletes:
I have always appreciated Heckmair's attitude to climbing:
"I consider mountain climbing an absolutely egocentric activity; I could therefore never understand why one would want to set up rules for it. "In the mountains, freedom rules" is an old poacher's saying. Whether and how I use artificial means is my business. To climb in the cleanest and smoothest way possible - that was my desire. How others climb is their business, and nobody else has the right to interfere. Most people abide by rules because they want to be accepted. I was only truly content when I succeeded in completing a climb the way I had envisioned it. Naturally, there is satisfaction when a climb is acclaimed by the experts, but basically, this was not as important to me as the recognition by my friends."
A couple of books about the history of Eiger climbing:
Daniel Anker's "Eiger. The Vertical Arena"
Rainer Rettner's "Eiger. Triumphe und Tragödien 1932-1936"
I'm not trying to hi-jack Jim's original threme, but the best known book on the Eiger is "The White Spider" by Heinrich Harrer.
Like Heckmair, HH lived into his 90s, and made it to 93. There were pretty long odds against either of them even reaching 30!
About 10 years ago I was at the Banff Film Festival, and HH was one of the guest speakers. A small part of his presentation was about the FA of the north face, which had taken place 60+ years earlier. The original photos had been made into slides, and it was amazing to look at them while he described the ascent. "Here ve do der Hinterstoisser", "Dis is der Death Bivouac", etc. He was there. He did it. It still gives me goose-bumps.