Location: Bernese Alps, Switzerland
Height: 3,970m AMSL
Date Summited: August 28th, 2016, at 9:20 (MESZ) – local time
Route: Mittellegi Ridge
The Eiger, a legendary peak located deep within the European Alps. For many, its legendary ascents have captured the imagination and imprinted a deep desire to tackle the mountain. This was the case for me, and for a decade, a deep desire echoed in my spirit to climb this mountain. The Eiger was part of the “Great Alps Project” which also included Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, and was supported by Casol Villas France. Our team consisted of Stéphanie Maureau, Guillaume Omont, Alina Zagaytova and Antoine Labranche. There are a few routes on the Eiger. We opted for the Mittellegi Ridge, which leads to the summit from the East via a ridge that connects initially to the North-East face, and then overlooks the North Face. It is perhaps the most beautiful sight in the mountaineering realm that my eyes have ever witnessed.
To arrive at the Mittellegi Hut, located on the Mittellegi Ridge at 3,355m, we took the train from Grindelwald, Switzerland, to Kleine Scheidegg, a station on a mountain pass below the Eiger. From there we took the historic Jungfrau train, a pioneering masterpiece, that travels through the Eiger mountain up to the Jungfraujoch “Top of Europe” (highest railway system in the world). We disembarked the train at Eismeer, where we down climbed the South Face of the Eiger, from literaly a large window carved into the mountain, onto the glacier, and then traversed up until we reached the Mittellegi Refuge. There we witnessed a beautiful sunrise (similar to the one I shared with Mr. Laussermair in the Andes) and stayed there for the night. After a quick breakfast, we set for the climb at 0520 on the morning of Sunday the 28th of August. The weather was CAVOK, with little to no winds, and with a pleasant temperature. We could see the stars above, and the lights below in Grindelwald. The moon phase offered some light, which reflected on the glaciers below us. Most of the climbing was conducted in the dark, until we arrived at the second pitch.The Eiger consists of limestone rock. Really not an easy type of rock to climb. It breaks into pieces easily and is extremely rough on the hands. Hence, the climbs are slower for security reasons, we had to constantly pay attention to the climbers above us. With some large cumulus clouds approaching far in the distance from the East, I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrise of my life. It was breathtaking, and the warmth on the rock was much appreciated. Then we ascended one last pitch of roughly 100 meters, and there it was, the summit ridge in sight. It was sunny, and the summit was there, covered in snow with a cornice overhanging on the South Face. The entire climbing party reached the summit at 0920, four hours after our departure. After a quick celebration at the summit, we left the summit ten minutes later, and descended to Jungfraujoch via the ridge and onto the glaciers, for slightly less than five hours.