June 10, 2012 GMT
I have climbed (on) the North face of the Eiger

I had eaten and gone to bed just before it started to rain. It was pelting down hard as I layed up for the night.

I was awoken at about 2pm by a wet elbow. In fact, just about everything was wet. It turns out that the hot temperatures of the Adriatic had unglued the taped seems on the tent.

The rest of the night involved mopping up water with socks or undies and atempting to sleep under a waterproof jacket.

Eiger bike dryer.jpg
Motorcycle clothes dryer...

I refused to get out of bed until the rain had stopped which it finally did about 9am. It was like a tsunami had hit my tent. I needed some way to stop this happening again. I would go to the shops, hoping they would be open as it was Sunday.

In a word they weren't. Anyway more important things were happening. Clouds were clearing, the sun was coming out and the Eiger was unveiling itself.

Eiger n face better.jpg
The North Face of the EIger shows it's face...

I zipped up Tsunami tent, and that somehow drew a line under it. The cog train up to Kleine Sheidegg wound its way up the valley, and it soon became apparent I was looking at the North face. It was camera clickquick, I wasn't sure if I would see the face again due to the number of clouds.

Eiger KS.jpg
Kleine Sheidegg...

Arriving at Kleine Sheidegg in clouds was no surprise. The fleet of mostly Japanese and Indian tourists ran to the next train that would take them through the Eiger to the Jungfraujoch, 'the top of Europe'. Well, the top that sells coffee for 7 Swiss Francs and has a souvie shop.

I lost 99.9% of people by heading up the path to the Eiger glacier. Most of the time I was in cloud but every now and again a veiw up or down the valley would reveal itself. Trudging up the path and through the occasional snowfield was hard work. I was panting like I was doing a 100 metre race. I was 2300 metres up though.

Eiger misty.jpg
A bit misty on the North Face...

Finally I reached the Glacier station and there in front of me was the North East corner of the Eiger. If ever there was a mountain to put the Willies up you, this one ticks all the boxes. Fearful weather, difficult route finding, a lot of loose rock falling, very hard to retreat, very limited chance of rescue, but more than anything, Its deadly reputation.

Eiger climb2.jpg
On the Eiger Trail... One at a time...

I was going to follow the Eiger trail below the North face and see if I could find a wire rope climb over the eastern corner of the mountain. Both trails were meant to be closed. Scooterisis had flaired up again.

Eiger clouds.jpg
It was a long way down...

I was a tad freaked just to be touching the mountain. I was expecting it to reach down and flick me off its knee, as you would an ant. Its all about reputation, and perhaps I had read too many books!

Following the Eiger trail below the cliff face soon became a bit of an ordeal. Snow and ice still lay around and one slip would send you to a nasty place with big rocks and 100 metre drops. It was ice axe and crampon territory. I was not kitted up for this. One foot was in a plastic bag because my boot was leaking an it had begun to snow

Eiger climb.jpg
I did 10 feet...

Above me was over 4000 feet of cliff face. I walked half on a bergsrung, half holding the cliff till sense told me to stop. A small stone falling and hitting the snow confirmed this. I turned back still looking for the wire rope climb. I saw the rope had been pulled up so endevoured to reach it. It was only 20 feet of climling on V Diff material, but after 10 feet, I got the willies and retreated. So now I can say I have climbed (on) the North face of the Eiger.

Eiger train.jpg
Thomas the tank Engine's steroid munching, foul mouthed half brother...

Halfway down, I stopped for lunch of bread and chesse, weird Eiger cheese, I think it came from goats. I did a lot of stareing. Sometimes I forgot to chew!

Eiger Wetterhorn.jpg
The view tot he Wetterhorn from Kleine Sheidegg...

Back at Kleine Sheidegg, a train was just pulling in. Should I buy a fridge magnet for 7 quid or should I just get on the train and bugger off?

So my Eiger adventure over, I returned to the car crash that masquaraded as my tent. Emptying the whole thing, to dry, I gaffer taped the seams on top of the tent. I hoped this would hold.

Eiger quickie.jpg
The Quickie Bar... I hope not, for the price you pay, it needs to last...

Gaffer tape appears to come in two indeterminate grades. Grade 1 will not stick on anything. Grade 2 will stick a space shuttle to a space station. I had brought Grade 1. So a number of applications of the Grade 1 material and that would have to do.

So a herty meat of pasta, sauce and sausage and it began to rain. If the tent was not going to hold I was going in the toilet block. So far after an hour of rain, everything is still dry.

I have managed to pay back a little kindness to some Austrian lads by lending them my washing up liquid and scourer. Its hardly Live Aid, but it is a start!

Posted by David Bailey at June 10, 2012 06:11 PM GMT

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