North Face of the Eiger: Who's done it?


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Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 8, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
My whole universe changed after I stumbled onto a copy of The White Spider in the library at age 14.

I had the chance to do it at 23 but it never stopped storming and I never saw the face above the 2nd icefield. The face was running with waterfalls and from this little shepherd's hut at the base I could hear rockfall echoing out from the concave face. One of my biggest regrets, but man, that is one ugly looking wall.

Here is where I hung out for ten days waiting for a break in the weather that never came:

Johnny K.

Dec 8, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
Didnt Werner winter solo it in one pitch with a 4,000M static rope and 3 cams? The Eiger north face is one of a kind.

Ice climber
Dec 8, 2013 - 01:54pm PT
Might want to ask Jeff Lowe.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2013 - 01:56pm PT
Surely somebody here has done it....

Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Funny story:

I couldn't get anyone from Chamonix to go with me so I took my gear to solo it. I was climbing at a high level that year, but maybe it is a blessing that I could never get on it.

So...I hitched from Chamonix to Brig, where you go through a train tunnel through the Bernese Alps and pop out on the other side. I didn't make it there in one day and ended up sneaking into a vineyard along the Rhone River.

I was sleeping between the rows, and these beautiful grapes were hanging right there above my head. I had to sample them, and ate a few. They were as hard as rocks and nothing like the store bought grapes I was used to.

I made it through the tunnel to Interlaken the next evening (passing up an offer to spend the night at this beautiful American girl's father's chalet). I spent the next night in a pouring rain next to a haystack outside of Grindelwald.

I make my way up to Kleine Scheidegg the next day and come down with uncontrollable squirts from eating the grapes. Every toilet in Switzerland required payment, and I had little money. So I spent the next couple of days sneaking a poop in the local's gardens.

I get home and find out that my girlfriend had been cheating me the whole time.

If I had it to do over again, I would have not eaten the grapes, nailed the girl savagely, and hung out until the weather broke.

Sport climber
Dec 8, 2013 - 03:08pm PT

...good story...

Here's a chronology of Eiger ascents from the start in 1858 until 1999. It's scanned from Daniel Anker's excellent book "Eiger. The Vertical Arena". An Irishman was first...

I don't know how many Supertopians are mentioned.

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Dec 8, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
I know Rick Sylvester did it with John Bouchard BITD.

R.S. post here on occasion.

I know a few others, but they never post on S.T.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 8, 2013 - 04:27pm PT

steve shea

Dec 8, 2013 - 04:45pm PT
Went three times in the 70's. First time with Tobin Sorensen. We did not get off the ground due to the Foehn. Tobin climbed it later that fall with Alex McIntyre I think. Second time got to the Wet Cave and got wet, big storm. Third time in autumn '78 we had success. With Larry Bruce. We started at noon day one, bivied at the Swallow's Nest then Brittle Ledge night two and finished at noon day three. About 22 hrs total climbing time lots of bivy time with very short days in Nov. Awesome, awesome climb! I agree with Bruce Kay about the history and the similarity to the CDN Rockies. As a matter of fact Larry and I were in the Rockies that summer and almost bought it in a climax avalanche on the GCC North face Of Mt Kitchener. the whole lower apron pulled out down to black ice. It was a lousy season. We planned our trip to the Eiger right after that as a consolation prize. Got lucky on the route but not so on the descent. An absolute epic with two others in tow. A long story. I would post pix but I am in the same boat as Steve with lots of dusty 35mm slides from my days in the Alps.

Not many Americans had done it in the 70's. Harlin, Sylvester, JB, Bob Wade, Ron Matous, Mike Munger, Tobin and Larry and me is all I know of. All pre Gortex.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2013 - 05:12pm PT
I talked to John Bouchard about it a couple of years later when he brought the first American paragliding canopies to Bishop. We flew all day every day for a week or so. I really enjoyed my time with him.

What I hear is that these days it isn't good to do during the summer. As the face has dried out, the rockfall is really bad. Most people do it in the winter or late spring.

I always wondered exactly how hard it is. Nobody has ever given me the pitch by pitch beta.
steve shea

Dec 8, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
Yes, what were we thinking? I had had some good cold seasons there and just hit too warm that year. Poor judgement made us go on the route but good judgement saved our sorry asses. The isotherme was so high that we could hear water running at midnight and we were sweating like stuffed pigs. We bailed. Not a half hour after we had rapped the schrund the whole thing came down. But for the grace of God... Lessons learned in the Alps saved us.

The icefields do make weather. Very perplexing place. The only place I have ever been in a raging storm while my aneroid alt/bar read high pressure. But I love the Rockies. Larry used to call them the "poor man's Alps" because you could drive there and the beer was strong and cheap.

We used garbage bags and tape to get up the lower wet sections on the Eiger. Poor man's gortex.
steve shea

Dec 8, 2013 - 05:27pm PT
Base if all the classic sections were in, the rock is 5.9 and the ice 4/5ish. We had great conditions but for one section. The Ice Hose was not there. So Larry went left on to 5.10ish face climbing. Fortunately the Ice Bulge was in fantastic condition at the top of the Ramp. Overhung to start, just awesome with 5000' at your heels. What makes it interesting is the pro was terrible. We took our standard alpine rack. Eight screws or so, 6 pins some soft iron and a good selection of nuts. We took two cams, new to me, and used one once on the Traverse of the Gods.

Trad climber
Dec 8, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Never tried it.
My buddy Kevin wanted me to join him in the Alps in 1983 but I declined because of having to start working after a 15 month break.
He managed to do load of climbs including a 2 week period where he did the Eigerwand, Croz Spur in horribly iced up conditions, and soloed the N Face of the Matterhorn. His Eiger partner was a Scot who was on his first Alpine climb. Kevin's comment: "He slowed us down. We should have been able to do it in 12 hours instead of 18"
Kevin said the Croz was the diciest climb he had ever done, more intense than Gimme Shelter, GCC on Kitchener in winter, North Face of Goodsir. It was the 1/2 thick ice with no gear or belays that had him concerned.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Dec 8, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Went to Grindelwald in the spring of '90 and hiked around at the base. I was in good shape, but that was about it. Wayyy too scary looking and sounding with all the crap falling off.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
Was there in 1986 with my friend who, the day before, became the first American cyclist to win a major European stage race(Tour de Suisse). The conditions were ugly with lots of crap coming down. Definitely not in shape and neither was I.

Alan Bradley climbed it with Mark Twight in the 80's. I believe Bridwell did it in the early 90's.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
Sewellymon, Roskelly didn't do it with Marts. Can't help you beyond that. I could say more
but I'm already on probation with the Thread Drift Police.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
Steve Shea,

I was just going to say, " I think my friend Larry Bruce climbed the north wall".
Didn't know it was with you though, small world.

Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
Steve...that's some "taco cred" IMHO...ha ha.

Barcelona to Zurich last Tuesday:

I've looked down the NF from the train late September after a bit of a snowstorm. Kinda cured me from thinkin' too hard about it...

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
Roskelley did it with Chris Kopczynski.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:53pm PT
Post title should be changed to 'Anyone know anyone that's climbed the Eiger?'
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