Eiger has always played a special role in the history of European mountaineering. The fame of its north face has intimidated and at the same time attracted generations of climbers, including us.
I’ve dreamed of climbing one route on that wall for many years, but for one reason or another I had never taken the initiative. Routes like “Paciencia”, “La vida es silbar” or “Odyssee” had always drawn our attention, so this summer we finally decided to go trying them … or at least one of them.
The weather quickly became our main obstacle; the scorching heat played into our hands, but the frequent storms certainly didn’t encourage us to spend several days on the wall.
The desire to climb on that wall still took the upper hand and so, in mid-August, we headed to Grindelwald. To get around the problem of the weather, we decided to climb some routes in a day, bivouacking for a few days at the base of the glacier. Our first route on the wall was “Deep blue sea”, probably one of the most famous and short routes there. We were immediately impressed by the quality of the rock, which has nothing to envy to the more famous limestone walls. Our second objective was “Magic Mushroom”, a much longer and more challenging route, which was still possible to climbed in a day. Thanks to some luck with the weather we managed to climb both routes free, a great start and a nice source of motivation to try something longer and more challenging on that wall.
After repeating these routes we shifted our attention onto “Odyssee”, one of the newest routes on the Rote Fluh, the most overhanging part of the Eiger. Begun in 2009, it was finished and free climbed in 2015 by Roger Schäli, Robert Jasper and Simon Gietl; currently it is considered the most difficult rock climb on the wall and still awaited a free ground up ascenmt.
The 30 pitches up to 8a +, with are protected by a mixture of bolts and traditional protections, makes it certainly a challenging route, which normally requires several days of climbing.
Given the difficulties we planned to spend more days on the wall, in order to have enough time to try to both free climb all the pitches. Obviously the big unknown, as well as one of the main obstacles, was the weather.
We spent 4 days (and nights) on the wall, during which we had to face several storms; luckily the right side of the Eiger is very overhanging and we had a single portaledge in which we could protect us from the rain. The first day we climbed the initial challenging pitches, finishing the day with the crux pitch of the route, a very short and bouldery 8a +. The second day was definitely the most intense; many pitches up to 7c +, were completely wet and we fought hard to send them and not to bail. On the third day we reached the last difficult pitch of the route, an 8a situated just 100meters from the top. We bivouacked there for the last time and on the next day, worried about the bad weather, we quickly climbed the last easy pitches before to start the rappels. The storm surprised us right on the final rappel and we arrived at the car soaked and exhausted, but at the same time happy to have managed to climb both free this spectacular route!
Odyssee (hardest free climb on the Eiger):
lenght: 1400m big wall, 33 pitches
difficulty: up to 8a+
first ascent: Roger Schäli, Robert Jasper, Simon Gietl
ALL PICTURES: PAOLO SARTORI