Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Eiger West face

We had a hot tip off at the weekend from friends who had climbed the North face that the West face of the Eiger was in very snowy condition, so a crack team was hastily assembled to go and ski this legendary summit.
Weighing in at 5.2 on the Toponeige scale, and with 1600m vertical, with 1200m at 40º or more and 4/500m of steady 45º high up this is not a descent to take lightly (not to mention the mid-height serac).

Grindlewald grund train station:

On the train up to Kleine Sheidegg

Eiger North face looking moody:

The team contemplating the West face, upper half hidden by the clouds:

Ross Hewitt & Cedric Bernardini at the 5 star bivvy spot:

Sunset on the Jungfrau:

Antigravity chough:

7.30 am, time to climb... only 1600m to go:

A bit of rock climbing for a wake-up call:

A few hundred metres of skinning up the lower apron, then skis on pack, crampons on, and time to start boot-packing:

Cedric approaching the ice runnels that allow you to stay well left (though not completely out of the line of fire of the serac):

Starting up the upper face:

Looking down from approx 3600m on the West face, Eigergletscher station visible 1300m below:

A quick peek down the North face - very good conditions on the classic '38 route currently:

The team on the summit:

French pair coming off the North face:

Dave Rosenberger puts in the first couple of turns down a slightly firm West ridge - 4m wide, 1600m of north face on the right, 1600m of West face below, so slightly 'airy'!:

John Minogue - first turns on the West ridge:

Spot the skier (yes he is in there - dead centre) - Dave ripping the upper face:

Jim Lee high on the upper face:


Ross & Cedric below the serac - 100m of mixed conditions - chopped up powder, sluff balls, spring snow & the odd runnel... just where you don't want to be hanging around!

Good spring snow right through the lower slabs - just enough there to get through with skis on...

And ski to within 50m of the Eigergletscher station:

One for the laydees! - The cream of the crop of Chamonix steep skiers flex their pecs in the afternoon sun:

The West face. The line skied started from the summit down the West ridge (left hand skyline), then skiers left through the rock bands of the upper face to join the wide slopes above the serac:

Culture shock - one minute you are in the high mountains, the next sitting on a train full of Japanese tourists!

Legendary summit + great line + good snow + crack team = awesome day out!

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