Eiger North Face: world's ultimate via ferrata?

The most famous mountain face in the world has always been the preserve of an elite few climbers, and so when Trek & Mountain was recently offered the chance to abseil from the Stollenloch window, we were – to put it mildly – extremely excited.

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Jungfrau Railway, and 150 years of Swiss equipment maker Mammut, 10 lucky competition winners and us were given an unbelievable experience that is a dream come true for many mountain lovers. The Jungfrau Railways runs through a tunnel that was blasted out of the Eiger just after the turn of the 20th century, and the operator of the railway had arranged for the train to be stopped in the middle of the tunnel, in order for us to climb out of The Stollenloch window – famous for the failed attempt to rescue Toni Kurz during his team’s ill-fated attempt to climb the North Face in 1936.

After stepping off the train, we first were shown classic mountaineering gear as used by the early pioneers, before exiting the window and onto the face itself, some 600m (or a third of the way) up the peak. After a safety briefing from the company that runs this experience, Eiger Vision, we clipped into the ropes using via ferrata kit, and followed a little circuit that took us across the face a few metres, down and round to climb back up to the Stollenloch. The aura of the face is incredible, and it’s easy to imagine the first ascentionists all those years ago battling their way up the precipitous wall. The view is not too bad either, with the green meadows of the valley far below almost surreally distant.

Our group did brilliantly, some never having even climbed before (what a place to start!) but showing very few nerves as they first negotiated the via ferrata circuit and then abseiled 20m directly off the ledge of the Stollenloch. After an hour we disappeared back into the tunnel for a celebratory whiskey and tea, before jumping back onto the train and continuing on up to the Jungfraujoch station at the top.

We’d like to thank Eiger Vision, the Jungfrau Railway, Mammut and Switzerland Tourism for organising and inviting us along on this amazing experience – it was an absolute privilege to have been on the North Face of the Eiger, and not one we expect to repeat soon!




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