I stopped for lunch today at my favourite place – the top of the Tschuggen T bar. The wooden bench along the side of the wooden building faces south and on a sunny day like today, that bench is warm and inviting. You have to bring your own sandwich though.
Set before anyone on that bench is the Eiger north face. It’s not quite so sunny. Even on the best of winter days, it seems threatening, sat in the gloom of the mountain’s own shadow.
In summer the Idle Skiers traverse the Eiger trail, under the north face. The walk is punctuated by the sound of falling stone and there is often snow even in August. I have never been to the Himalayas or any of the other great mountain ranges, but my instinct is that few mountains can match the drama of this place.
When I read the “White Spider”, I thought it a worthy read rather than a page turner. However, Joe Simpson’s book “The Beckoning Silence” brings the whole mountain alive. (Incidentally, I read first his book “Touching the Void” and then his whole canon one after the other; however good a climber he might be, his writing is better still.) Over sixty people have died on the north face since the first attempt to climb it, but every day we pass beneath without a care in the world. We might think of this place as a playground, but the mountain has its own ideas.
A glorious sunny day brought 10,825 vertical metres in 23 lift rides.