Stephan Siegrist places one of the last bolts on Pitch 8 during the establishment of La Vida es Silbar on the north face of the Eiger in 1998. The route was set up over the course of three years for a redpoint; in June, Siegrist returned with Ueli Steck to redpoint the twenty-seven-pitch line at 7c (5.12d). [Photo] Thomas Ulrich
In 1998 Daniel Anker and I decided to tackle the Rote Fluh, a section of the north face of the Eiger which up until then had been considered taboo. For a long time the Rote Fluh had been considered too hard to free climb, and since the Eiger does not have the best reputation for rock quality, we also had our doubts when we first started our reconnaissance. A year later we drilled the last pitch of La Vida es Silbar at the top of the Czech Pillar. Thus, a twenty-seven-pitch climb emerged through the longest and steepest rock pillar on the shady side of the Eiger. The desire to climb every pitch redpoint in one go was on my mind for a long time. However, this dream was put on hold for two years, the consequence of an injury.
Thanks to the continuous run of good weather this summer, Ueli Steck and I managed to redpoint La Vida es Silbar (V 7c, 900m) on June 29-30, 2003. The dream was finally fulfilled!
During the climb we had to pull the rope three times, the consequence of falls. Thus, the first sixteen pitches took us twelve hours. It was 9 p.m. before we could make ourselves comfortable at the Czech Bivouac.
The climb begins at the same height as the Stollenloch (the Gallery Window of the Eiger train tunnel) and runs directly through the Rote Fluh, over the Czech Pillar, and finishes about one and a half hours below the summit of the Eiger. It is the most continually difficult free climb on the north face of the Eiger, with two pitches of 7c, two of 7b+, one of 7b, two of 7a+, two of 7a, with the remainder 6c+ and easier.
At 7:30 a.m. on June 30, we started climbing Pitch 17. The weather service reported a cold front with strong frontal thunderstorms for the afternoon, which dampened my optimism somewhat.
On the first pitch our fingers were very cold, which is actually quite normal on the north face of the Eiger. However, on the next pitch we had great climbing conditions. After seven hours we reached the end, right on time for the cold front, which was already noticeable with turbulent, cold air and clouds.
We made two abseils down the Czech Pillar and then climbed down over the west flank of the Eiger, reaching the Kleine Scheidegg at 4:30 p.m., where we once again extinguished our “Eiger Thirst” with beer.
Editor’s Note: The approximate route line for La Vida es Silbar can be found on Page 86 in Alpinist 2.
— Stephan Siegrist, Interlaken, Switzerland