Mount Everest isn’t the only mountain worth climbing or scaling. There are so many wondrous mountains that are just as notable and just as impressive.
Take the Swiss Alps, for instance. When you hear of the Alps, the first thing to come to your mind would probably be snow-capped mountains and skiing. But that is not all there is to the Swiss Alps. In the midst of this mountain range, the Eigernordwand – the Eiger North Face – stands strong and proud.
The Eiger Mountain and the Eigernordwand
The Eiger Mountain is simply one of the many in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. Its northern face rises about 9,800 ft (3,000 m) above the inhabited valleys of the Bernese Oberland. The Eiger North Face is simply one of the six great north faces of the Alps. However, it is also touted as one of the most classic and technical faces in the world.
The first ascent of the Eiger Mountain was made by Christian Almer and Peter Bohren, both Swiss guides, and Charles Barrington from Ireland. This was in August 11, 1858. However, scaling the Eiger North Face was attempted since 1935, to disastrous and deadly results, with at least sixty-four climbers perishing. It wasn’t until an Austrian-German expedition with Andreas Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek in July 24, 1938 that the climb was successful. It took them three days to climb the northern wall.
You’d think that the initial attempts to conquer the Eiger North Face would turn away many climbers. Quite the contrary, in fact. It further intensified that siren’s call that only mountaineers and climbers seem to hear. They took it as a challenge to their bodies, their spirit and their character. It suddenly became a journey that they couldn’t undertake.
And for good reason. As imposing and as daunting as it may look – even in photographs – there is no doubt that this is one mountain worth conquering. People who seek adventure will have no shortage of it the moment they set foot on the base of the northern wall, look up, and behold what they are daring to climb. It definitely is not for the weak of heart and body.
Ask any of the climbers who made the climb and they’d tell you that the Eiger carries an aura of magnetism that is impossible to ignore and pretend does not exist. It’s like a flame drawing the moth to its warmth.
It is not without its hazards. After all, you only have to think of the many lives lost in the pursuit of the summit via its north face and you know it’s not a walk in the park. Aside from the natural wear and tear that time brings, making parts of the wall crumble away, there are the loose rocks, stone-fall, slippery ice, and unpredictable weather that makes what is already a dangerous wall an even more treacherous one.
But the rewards are great. Many have compared the face to be something that is alive, pulsing and breathing with the life force of those who have given their lives on the mountain. And there is that rush, that sense of victory, that feeling of pride in the knowledge that you accomplished something worth shouting at the top of your lungs.
Unfortunately, not all of us can climb the Eiger North Face. But for those who have, and for those who will, we thank them for sharing their experience, giving us a glimpse of one of the world’s many wonders.