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Jasper, Schaeli Free Eiger
Posted on: October 22, 2010
Edited on October 27, 2010: Thank you to Dane and Robert Jasper for correcting us. We got a little carried away in reporting Jasper and Schaeli's climb on the Eiger. As noted below they did not completely free the Harlin route, nor did they ever claim as much. Below is an email from Robert Jasper in regards to this Newswire which should convey what was and was not climbed. Apologies -Ed
Robert Jasper and Roger Schaeli have made a breakthrough in climbing history by freeing the legendary Harlin Direttissima (ED4, 1800m) on the Eiger north face (3970m). Between September 20 and 23, the duo climbed the 1800-meter route in alpine style.
The Harlin Direttissima is named for John Harlin II, an American mountaineer who died while attempting the route. In February of 1966, Harlin, along with Layton Kor, Dougal Haston, joined forces with a team of Germans (Golikow-Haag-Hupfauer-Lehne-Rosenzopf-Schnaidt-Strobel-Votteler) and Chris Bonington to climb a direct line up the north face. On the first summit attempt, Harlin was jumaring up from the Death Bivouac when his seven-millimeter fixed line broke and he fell 1200m to the base of the wall. The remaining climbers reached the summit three days later. In total, the route took a month to prepare and ascends 80-degree ice and A3 V+ rock.
Jasper and Schaeli arrived at the Eiger in late September, choosing to attempt the climb in autumn rather than battle the cold in winter or dangerously warm conditions in summer. The duo followed the historic route up the center of the north face until a point where the line breaks right onto loose rock just below the "Fly" ice patch. Instead, the climbers topped out via the Original Route (ED2). To protect the climb, they supplemented questionable pitons left by the first ascensionists with new pitons and natural gear. On the evening of September 23, Jasper and Schaeli reached the summit of the Eiger and set up their third bivi on a narrow ridge a few meters below the top. They graded the free route M8- 7a.
Jasper attempted the Harlin climb four times in the last two decades and forged a personal connection to the route when he climbed the peak with Harlin's son while making an IMAX film in 2005. 'The Alps' chronicles John Harlin III's successful bid to climb the route that killed his father more than three decades before.
"I was really affected by the tragedy," Jasper said. "As I lead climbed the [pitch] where John Harlin took his fatal fall in 1966, thoughts of my family and the risks of the mountain flitted through my mind, which was really tough. That route was the most emotional climb of my whole life."
Sources: David Falt, Robert Jasper, 1966 AAJ, thebmc.co.uk