Only the other day we were re-living Ueli Steck’s Eiger speed climbing record – 2 hrs 48mins, set in 2008. Suddenly news pops up that Mammut sponsored pro climber Dani Arnold, only 27, has smashed 20 minutes off that time, racing up the North Face in 2 hr 28 minutes!
I wonder what Heckmair, Vorg, Harrer and Kasperack, the 4 who first succesfully climbed it in 1938 would make of the new speed records? And the hundreds who perished trying to make it up the North Face before that (and since)? Do these speed records take something away from past heroes, or simply build on their glory?
Known for its dangerous rockfalls and exposed ice fields, it has a long and romantic climbing history, with some of climbings most dramatic stories being enacted on the face. Perhaps most famous, thanks to Joe Simpson’s book and documentary ‘The Beckoning Silence’ and the 2008 film ‘North Face’, is the tragic story from 1936 of Hinterstoisser (the traverse now named after him), Kurz, Angerer and Rainer. Trapped on the face for days by bad weather and unable to recross the Hinterstoisser traverse, the group were eventually swept away by an avalanche. A heavily frostbitten Kurz, the only survivor, died within touching distance of the rescue team, when he become unable to pass the rescue rope through his karibiner and lower himself to them.
With many more stories like this, you can’t help but feel some of the legendary sense of foreboding that accompanies the words ‘North Face of the Eiger’ has been lost as mountaineering skills and equipment progress to a point where people start to literally run up it.
That said, wow. You can’t help but be in awe of this speed climbing feat from Dani Arnold, one of the climbing communities new stars.
More info about the route he took can be found on the Mammut website here
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