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Tom Ballard Completes North Faces With Fast Ascent of Eiger

British climber Tom Ballard has soloed the North Face of the Eiger in five hours and 38 minutes and in doing so completed his Starlight and Storm project.

Tom Ballard is a British alpinist who has just completed climbing the six great north faces of the Alps in winter and solo.

In a brief conversation with Gripped, Tom said, “It took five hours and 38 minutes, I was slow because I’m not well at the moment, a bad cold, sore throat.”

Tom Ballard standing on the summit of the Eiger after his five hours and 38 minutes ascent of the historic Heckmair Route.  Photo Tom Ballard Collection
Tom Ballard standing on the summit of the Eiger after his five hours and 38 minutes ascent of the historic Heckmair Route. Photo Tom Ballard Collection

Only a few days ago, he climbed the Allain – Leininger 1935 route up the Petit Dru North Face. The solo only took eight hours, not bad considering he’d never climbed the mountain before.

Two weeks ago, he soloed the Colton – Macintyre on Grandes Jorasses in a fast time.

With only one week to go, Ballard climbed the 1938 Heckmair Route up the Eiger.

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The first route Ballard climbed was the Via Comici-Dimai on the Cima Grande di Lavaredo on Dec. 21 and 22, the route was first climbed in 1933. The second route was the classic Cassin Route on Piz Badile on Jan.6 and 7, which was first climbed in 1937. The next route was the Schmidt Route on the Matterhorn on Feb. 10 in under three hours, the classic route was first climbed on 1931. Two weeks ago, was his sub-four-hour climb of Grandes Jorasses’ Colton-Macintyre, first climbed in 1976. Last week he climbed the Allain-Leininger Route on Petit Dru, which was first climbed in 1935.

Planet Mountain has a collection of interviews with Ballard from his six ascents. Start reading them here.

The first to climb all six faces was Gaston Rébuffat and he documented his accomplishment in his 1954 work, Etoiles et Tempêtes (Starlight and Storm).

The three hardest faces north faces are on the Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses. The are known as the trilogy. The first to climb them in one year was the Austrian Leo Schlömmer, from 1961 to 1962. The first to solo them all in winter was Ivano Ghirardini. The first woman to climb them was Catherine Destivelle in 1992-93-94. Then Christophe Profit climbed all three in 24 hours on March 11 and 12, 1987.

Congratulations to Tom Ballard on completing one of the most ambitious goals of the year.

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