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Eiger North Face Solo, Bold New 5.12 Alpine and a Winter Ascent

Did you know that in 1982 an all-female team made the first winter ascent of a committing alpine face in the Alps? It was just repeated by an all-male team

The European alpine climbing scene is always full of big news, from winter ascents and bold solos to new multi-day climbs. Here are a few things of note from the past few weeks.

On March 25, Austrian alpinist Laura Tiefenthaler soloed the North Face of the Eiger, making her possibly only the second woman to do so after Catherine Destivelle’s historic solo in 1992, exactly 30 years ago.

“On the 25, I set off at 1 a.m.,” she said. “I felt good. Doubts were magically gone. With curiosity as my main motivation, and knowing that up to a point, I could get down, it felt safe to go explore. As I progressed, confidence grew. I rope-soloed all the hard pitches and some short sections. Reaching the Traverse of the Gods at 10am, I knew that time was on my side. I slowed down, prioritizing safety over speed, and topped out at 4pm, exceeding my expectations.”

Simon Messner and Martin Sieberer have made the first ascent of a serious new alpine rock route on the north face of Schrammacher (3,410 m) in Tyrol, Austria. They graded the crux UIAA 8-, which translates to 5.12a in North America.

They named the 10-pitch 450-metre climb Goodbye, Innsbrooklyn for Messner’s upcoming move away from the city of Innsbruck. “I tried this project four times over five years but either there was too much snow in winter or too much rockfall in spring/summer,” said Messner, “another time someone had stolen our deposited material”

He continued, “This time Sieberer and I started early on skis, went up the dominant snow ramp with mountain boots, crampons and ice axes to then continue in rock climbing shoes (as a backup we carried along one pair of boots, crampons and ice axes for both of us as well as two Musli bars and 800 ml of liquid each to be as light as possible) and this tactics worked out… A repetition of the route requires the experienced all-round alpinists (snow, ice and brittle rock!) and very good tactics, too. Good luck to the repeaters and be careful of the loose rocks – stay safe.” Messner finished with, “Wearing climbing shoes for a whole day on a north face was definitely not the best idea.”

Silvan Schüpbach and Peter von Känel made a winter ascent of Pizzo Badile via the British Route in March. The route was first climbed in 1968 by Mike Kosterlitz and Dick Isherwood. The first winter ascent was in 1982 was by Czechoslovakians Zuzana Hofmanová and Alena Stehlíková, two of the best female alpinists at the time.

Schüpbach said, “We didn’t know what to expect… But it seemed to me a cool drytool/mixed line which is not condition dependant… And, as a cherry on top, the rock is very good. The route offers steep climbing, easy to protect and excellent hooks. I dare to say it has the potential of becoming a extreme classic for hard alpine mixed climbing. The approach was hard, we carried skies for hours and the Cengalo Gully was full of unconsolidated snow. From the hut to the summit we had a 22 hours push. We brought bivy gear but the lack of proper ledges had let us continuing.”

And this week in Alaska, The Shaft of the Abyss, a 4,000-foot alpine climb in the Revelation Mountains that gets the grade VI AI5R M5 90-degree snow A0, was opened. Read about the epic new line here.