SKIING THE EIGER – Steep skiing in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT?
I first looked at this line about 8 years ago after being totally inspired by this area as a child. Having not skied much longer than that it never entered my mind that I would actually do it one day. That was until last year when the spark was lit again.
After quickly catching the train from Austria I met with my friend in Wilderswil where we completed the last of our equipment checks before jumping onto a train to Kleine Schiedegg.
Once arriving at Kleine Schediegg we evaluated the current condition of the Eiger including our route choice…somewhat putting things into scale!
We set out to make our camp at Rotstock (2663m) which is situated roughly 300hm above the Eigergletscher train station (2,320m). Rotstock is a small peak on the Eiger that gets no real attention – for obvious reasons. However it does provide reasonable cover from elements and a perfect bivvy spot for the night. If you happen to have a clear night you’re in for a treat…from here the views are magnificent!
Setting off at approximately 5:30am we began pushing up the first snowfield which we had hoped would have frozen overnight…it hadn’t and wading through soft snow first thing in the morning was extremely tiring.
Whilst navigating our way under the Serac we experienced a sharp rise in wind, spindrift and falling pebbles which, in my opinion was just the usual Eiger experience.
After passing the Serac we began heading left into a relatively steep gully, it was pretty obvious from here. This took us closer to the ridge-line and the North face. At the top of this gully we found a few fixed lines and an excellent sheltered platform giving us time to re-fuel before the final snowfield.
Luckily by this height the snow was a lot firmer making for easier climbing. The final snowfield, being steep in places lead to a very small pitch of ice climbing just 50hm before the summit. The summit! Amazing views and somehow steeper on all sides than I had imagined. You get your Eiger fix at this point as your in touching…no…falling distance of both North and South faces of the Eiger.
Unfortunately the weather changed rapidly with increasing wind coming in fast. I opted for the quick change to skis just for bragging rights (I did 4 turns before having to side slip over ice very close to the North Face)…it wasn’t the most efficient plan however it was fun and I’m claiming it all the same!
A quick change and rappel left us freezing at this point wondering what the f*** had happened to the weather. We were pretty silent as we began descending the last snowfield back to the sheltered platform we had found earlier. We rappelled again from there due to a rocky section we had to pass – again with the right snow cover you could ski this.
Standing on top of the gully we were stoked to ‘officially’ get our skis on! Big camera away and GoPro out…we began our descent down the Eiger!