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Young Guns Break Eiger Nordwand Record

Simon Anthamatten making history through mixed terrain, his specialty, on the Eiger Nordwand’s Original Route (ED2, 1800m, Harrer-Heckmair-Kasparek-Vorg, 1938), Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. On January 28, 2008, he and Roger Schali climbed the route in 6:50, the fastest time ever recorded for a team (seilschaft). Prior, Anthamatten had never climbed the route in its entirety.
[Photo] Roger Schali

On January 28, 2008 young guns Simon Anthamatten (1983) and Roger Schali (1978) made a speedy ascent of the classic 1938 route on the Eiger’s north face. They needed 6 hours and 50 minutes to climb from bottom to top, a new team (seilschaft) record.

Schali had climbed the route nine times prior, but Anthamatten never had climbed the complete Original Route (ED2, 1800m, Harrer-Heckmair- Kasparek-Vorg, 1938). He had spent many hours on the Nordwand guiding, filming and free climbing the Japanese Direct (5.9 A3, 1800m, Imai-Kato-Kato- Negishi-Hirofumi-Kubo, 1969), but he never completed the most famous route, what many call the Heckmair, in one push.

The pair climbed fast and light; at 11:45 a.m. they reached the Death Bivouac, where they enjoyed a quick lunch. “Just another day at the office,” said Anthamatten with a smile. In the waterfall-chimney they conquered a thick pack of snow. Anthamatten, who won the ice climbing World Cup in Val Daone, Italy the week before, quickly dispatched this section. On the Mittelegi Ridge they short-roped then scampered to the summit. In spite of being exhausted, the two had great fun.

“Are we still ahead of Ueli?” Anthamatten joked at the top, referencing Ueli Steck’s 3:54 solo ascent, which currently holds the record for the route and the face (see the March 6, 2007 NewsWire). Aware that a climb is only finished when safe in the valley, they descended quickly and cautiously.

Of recent note Schali climbed the new route Magic Mushroom on the Eiger (see the November 8, 2007 NewsWire), and Anthamatten broke the retour record on Europe’s other most famous classic, the Matterhorn’s Hornli Ridge (see the September 20, 2007 Newswire).

Also, Anthamatten and Schali play roles–Andreas Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurtz, respectively–in Joe Simpson’s new movie, The Beckoning Silence, which documents the infamously tragic 1936 attempt on the Eiger’s north face. [This film had its US premiere at the 2008 Alpinist Film Festival. –Ed.]

“It was fun, to be together on the face again, where we spent so many good moments during the filming,” Schali said. “Sometimes we really had pain in our muscles from laughing.”

Anthamatten and Schali atop the Eiger after their record breaking ascent. About 4000 meters of climbing is involved on the Original Route. [Photo] Roger Schali collection