Less than a month after Simon Anthamatten and Roger Schali broke the team (seilschaft) record on the Eiger Nordwand (see the February 5, 2008 NewsWire), Daniel Arnold and Stephan Ruoss of Switzerland have done it again. Besting Anthamatten and Schali by forty minutes, their ascent from the bottom of the Heckmair Route (ED2, 1800m, 1938) to the top of the Eiger (3970m) took 6 hours, 10 minutes.
Arnold and Ruoss carried only bare necessities, little food and minimal gear, to make the speedy ascent.
There’s not much ice on the north face this year, Arnold said, and conditions were generally poor. He and Ruoss initially planned to climb The Young Spider (7a [5.11d] A2 WI6 M7, 1800m, Steck-Siegrist), but there was no ice, so they changed their objective to the Heckmair. Additionally, snow had fallen two days earlier, forcing them to break trail and filling in cracks, including the Difficult Crack, one of the more delicate rock and snow sections low on the Heckmair.
They began the climb at 1:35 a.m. and three hours later were at the Death Bivouac. They made up some time on the Ramp and cruised through the more demanding sections above, using a rope from the Stollenloch to the top. Having battled strong winds to climb the Exit Cracks, they reached the Mittelegi Ridge as the first sun broke that morning, February 23. They summited at 7:45 a.m.
The last two seasons have produced uncanny Eigerwand speed ascents that have decimated records from just over a year ago. Ueli Steck, the famed Eiger speed ascensionist, broke last year’s solo record (4:40) with a time of 3:54 (see the March 6, 2007 NewsWire for more history) in February 2007, then blasted the Heckmair again this season for the fastest time ever: 2:47:33.