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Climbing The Eiger

When climbing the Eiger, Tim’s usual preference is the Mettileggi route, one of the most famous ridge climbs in the alps.  Climbed when it is mainly rock it still presents a challenging climb with extreme exposure as you traverse above the entire famous north face.  Being an efficient and agile rock climber in alpine boots is essential for this difficult summit.

Climbing the Eiger: guide Tim Robertson comments:

What’s special about this peak? Why would anyone want to climb it?

It’s the most famous peak in the Alps after the Matterhorn, even though it’s not a 4000m peak.  Because it’s limestone, the character of the climbing is quite different,

The Eiger gets a lot less traffic than the Matterhorn because it is quite difficult.  The descent often takes more time than the ascent.

What are the particular challenges in this ascent?

The nature of the limestone, it’s a lot more “slabby”.  The holds are smaller compared to granite, so you need to be quite agile to move fluidly up it.

It’s super-exposed, when you are traversing above the North face of the Eiger.

What is your approach to climbing the Eiger?

I really like to have a warmup climb with people.  The chances of success are much greater if we’ve worked together beforehand on a less demanding route.

I’m not prepared to guide the South ridge route, I don’t think it’s a good or logical option. It’s exposed to rockfalls from other parties above using the South ridge as their descent route.  It entails an even longer day.

What are the requirements for the clients in terms of fitness, gear, skills?

Even more than for the Matterhorn, you need to be agile and efficient climbing in alpine boots on rock, in slightly more slabby climbing.  The climber needs to be able to do this in even more exposed locations.  The Eiger is graded harder than the Matterhorn, but is perhaps not as continuous.  There is an abseil on the route, as well as fixed lines.

You need to be proficient on crampons as well.  All in all the successful climber needs a strong alpine resume.

Another other comments?

It is a really historical peak. The north face of the Eiger was of course the last great challenge of the Alps, the whole area is steeped in history.  You’re aware of that when you’re above the North face, which is super impressive.

It’s unusual in that the most commonly guided route is quite a difficult challenge.

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What’s so special about the Bernese Alps?

The Alps are a massive range, stretching over 8 European countries.  The highest peak, Mont Blanc (4,804 m), is shared by France and Italy.  Switzerland has most of the rest. The Bernese Alps have 9 peaks above 4000m plus another 40+ in the 3500 – 4000m range.

Of the 10 highest peaks in The Alps, 8 are located in the Pennine Alps, in the Valais canton.  At number 9, Finsteraarhorn (4274m) is in the Bernese Alps and is shared between the Valais and Bern cantons.  Here’s a list of peaks:

  1. Finsteraarhorn (4274 m), highest in the Bernese Oberland
  2. Aletschhorn, (4182 m), actually in the Valais canton
  3. Jungfrau, (4166 m)
  4. Mönch, (4105 m)
  5. Schreckhorn (4080 m)
  6. Grosses Fiescherhorn (4049 m)
  7. Grünhorn (4043 m)
  8. Lauteraarhorn (4041 m)
  9. Hinteres Fiescherhorn (4025 m)
  10. Gletscherhorn (3983 m)
  11. Rottalhorn (3969 m)
  12. Eiger (3967 m)
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