The Eiger

Once the weather broke in the mountains we jetted up from Croatia though Slovenia, Italy and into Switzerland. I had always wanted to see the Eiger and try to climb it, so we were going for it. Not knowing the conditions or even how to get to the climb we started off slowly, but confidently. Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc and the conversion was easy as it was a 1 : 1 conversion with the US dollar meaning that it was worth the same. Anyway, that being said Swiss prices are 2 to 3 times more expensive than in the United States. Passes to ride the train up the Jungfrau (The Eiger is next to it) are high, but it saves 3-4 hours of walking before the normal 1.5 hours approach to the route.

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After talking with some guides and shop employees in town we had a pretty good description of the route and how to get there, the problem was that we could never see it from town. The clouds just hung right over the Geneva Pillars (where the climb was located). This made it difficult to actually understand the descriptions that we received. So we headed up the mountain to find the route as it was already late in the day with hopes of climbing it tomorrow. We brought our gear with hopes of stashing it at the approach rappels. After an hour or so of walking in a cloud up steep slabs and alongside snowfields we came to a cliff. Even though we couldn’t see through it or down it we believed that we were at the rappels for the route. We decided to remain there for a while in hopes of actually seeing the rock. After about an hour of wandering through the clouds a tiny opening emerged. It was maybe 50 foot wide. We saw enough to think were were there yet not enough for me to be sold that we really were there. In the end we left our gear under a rock and headed back to catch one of the last trains down the mountain. Nothing seemed correct about where we were and even after walking further up the mountain and down climbing the cliff that we ended at something seemed amiss.

It wasn’t until the following day that we saw where we walked and where the climb actually was located. It is amazing what a lack of clouds does for visibility. Anyway, with a forecast for afternoon showers we explored the valley instead of the north face of the Eiger and headed out early the next morning. When we arrived at the climb another unforeseen thing happened, the entire upper half of the was running with water while half of the bottom half was running with water. We were foiled. We had another option which was to lower in to the bottom half, climb the upper steep 70 meters of the lower 100 meters (the first being a slab) and then try the neighboring route. So we did just that and realized that it was freezing cold on the wall. It is windy and around 32 degrees while we climbed and as our feet and hands went numb during that top rope we both felt like it was the wrong time to be on the wall. We were also surprised to see a film crew filming the upper half of the other route that we were going to try. I was willing to try the other route but when the professional climber that was getting filmed was unable to make it up the route due to the harsh conditions, we felt ok about heading back down the mountain and to Chamonix, France where the weather was soon to be stable and dry.

 

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