The funny thing about the Eiger is your perception of what it’s like is very different to how it actually is. I thought it was going to be in a mailstorm of falling rocks whilst pulling on loose holds with Clint Eastwood body belaying me up a ice field with a funny glint in his eye.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the nature of the climbing was very different to that of the Mont Blanc Massif which made it quite interesting and difficult in places. I was however disappointed by the lack of rock fall and gruff film stars.
Here’s how it went….
It was a Thursday in April 2011. I woke up after a good solid 11 hours kip with absolutly no idea I would be heading over to Grindelwald that evening. However I very much wanted too and me and Ally Swinton had been keen to get over there for a while and with a good weather forecast the time seemed perfect.
We were missing two things. Transport over there and Ally having the day off the next day. Bugger. Luckly my mate guy lent me his car and after ally had finished work (luckly negotiating the following day off) at 6.30 we were off. Ally hadn’t eaten so we stopped off for some cheap bread, squezzy cheese and bacon crisps in a Swiss service station in Martigny. I looked and smelt terrible and I was glad that I had been gorging myself on pasta all day instead.
After some hours we arrived at grindlewald to find that the trains had finished running quite some time ago. Bugger. So we reajusted our plan from an early start from the Eigergletcher to a first train from Grindelwald. I paused only slighty in the morning to contemplate whether not taking bivy kit was a good idea…..
After what seemed like and eternity the train pulled to a stop at the Eigergletcher at around 8.30am. We left at a sprint for the bottom of the face intent on climbing it as fast as we could. We started climbing at 9.00 and got to the bottom of the difficult crack a hour or so later. The rope came out and we moved together all the way through this to the hinterstosser traverse. Ally led off and after the 60m of rope had gone I started along it to. We moved together all the way through the ice hose and the three ice fields like this untill we got to the ramp. We had passed 14 people between the end of The Hinterstoisser Traverse and the 1st pitch in The Ramp.
Things began to slow down through here as more hard climbing emerged…..
Finally we reached The Brittle Ledges and Brittle Crack. I led the Brittle Crack only to pull over it into bright sunshine. How lovely.
After shuffling a short way along The Traverse Of The Gods we realized it might be a tad warm (as it was 5pm and the sun was directly on us) to carry on as a waterfall was coming down The White Spider with other detritus following that. So we stopped for some tea and cake and waited for it to get dark.
We started climbing again at about 9pm when it was dark and had been for an hour or so. From then on it all got a bit funny. After a mild route finding error we found ourselves at the bottom of something that was not on the 1938 route. But we had a go anyway. It was hard. Definitely the hardest pitch I’ve tried to lead. So we sat down for a few hours in our bivy bags. It was bad. Very cold, slopey ledge, windy and for poor Ally, who had decided that a small bit of karimat was to heavy, quite ass numbing. We got bored of that setup pretty soon and with just enough light coming from the sunrise we realised the error of our ways and corrected it with a short diagonal abseil right. Up to and through the quartz crack was superb climbing. After the short traverse leftwards to the Corti bivy we were confronted with this.
Yer it was pretty hard going for a bit. Slopey feet pressed outwards brought on a pretty bad thigh burn. This marked the end of the difficulties. I briefly thought about making a abseil descent of the face. All that remained was the final snow slope and ridge to the top.
So there you have it. Success! 24 hours on the face. Made it to the top. All that remained was the easy trot back down to the train station. followed by about a week of drinking and sitting about doing F- all.
A big thanks to Ally for being a good mate and letting me have the bigger ledge for sitting on ;-). Guy for lending me his car and the weather for being good and for UKC in providing a spiffing topo here.
Untill next time folks………..