Top Climbers Bail on New Route Attempt on Eiger North Face
Alex and Thomas Huber, and Stephan Siegrist attempt an ambitious new route on on of the most famous north faces in Europe
In 2016, Thomas Huber (Germany) and Roger Schaeli and Stephan Siegrist (Switzerland) made the second ascent of Metanoia VII 5.10 M6 A4, 1800m, on the north face of the Eiger, 25 years after the first ascent by Jeff Lowe.
Inspired by their repeat, Thomas and Siegrist wanted to attempt their own bold route up the face, along with Alex Huber. They started up a few days ago under a starry sky, climbing steep and compact limestone with aid and hard free moves.
“Day two on the Eiger was a beast,” said Alex. “We were pounded by spindrift, and the higher we climbed, the worse the conditions got. The rock was covered with snow, all the cracks were full of ice. Our progress got slowed down. We bivouacked in the middle of the wall, but didn’t know whether it would make sense to continue climbing.”
On day three, they bailed but will return in spring. Thomas said, “Spindrift and way too much unconsolidated snow slowed down our progress so that we couldn’t see a realistic chance to finish our project in good style.”
North Face FA 1938
The north face was famously first climbed on July 24, 1938 by Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek. The party had originally consisted of two independent teams: Harrer (who did not have a pair of crampons on the climb) and Kasparek were joined on the face by Heckmair and Vörg, who had started their ascent a day later and had been helped by the fixed rope that the lead team had left across the Hinterstoisser Traverse.
The two groups, led by the experienced Heckmair, decided to join their forces and roped together as a single group of four. Heckmair later wrote: “We, the sons of the older Reich, united with our companions from the Eastern Border to march together to victory.”
The expedition was constantly threatened by avalanches and climbed as quickly as possible. On the third day, a storm broke and the cold was intense. The four men were caught in an avalanche as they climbed “the Spider,” the snow-filled cracks radiating from an ice-field on the upper face. The members successfully reached the summit at four o’clock in the afternoon.
They were exhausted and descended by the normal route through a raging blizzard.