Eiger Mittelegi Ridge

~ Saturday 27th August 2016

It's been a busy week, starting with the Dent Blanche South Ridge, Petite Dent de Veisivi, and a day rock climbing.

I finished the week with the Performance Alpinism team on the Eiger Mittelegi ridge - a very fine way to spend Friday! A route with such history and reputation brings a risk of anti-climax - especially if you've waited years to climb it! - but the Eiger didn't disappoint. It's a stunning climb, sensationally exposed, and although there are a lot of fixed ropes you still have to climb some technical ground with the void of the North face below your feet!

The hut approach is a climb in itself with a surreal start out of a small tunnel from the Eismeer station before a couple of proper pitches off the glacier lead to some unlikely terrain up to the hut.

In the dark you can't see the drop down the NE face, but you can "feel" it! The climbing starts straight from the hut, with a couple of short pitches before the first fixed rope.

We reached the main fixed ropes around sunrise, but the ropes are on the NE face here so can stay icy underfoot. It's not that easy, and would be desperate without the rope!

There are a lot of fixed ropes on the Mittelegi, but also some real climbing, all in sensational positions!

At the end of the difficulties the ridge gets less steep, and snowy, so crampons on for the exposed ridge to the summit.

Standing on the Eiger summit is a big moment in most climbers' lives (certainly in mine!) It's a fine summit, with the history and iconic status of the peak adding to the emotion.

Getting to the top is of course only half-way - or less. The South ridge descent is long and quite technical. Down-climbing and a few abseils lead to the North Eigerjoch, where the linking ridge must be traversed to reach the South Eigerjoch and easy ground at last. A hot glacier trek leads quickly to the culture shock of the Jungfraujoch complex - part station, part Bond-villain base, part shopping centre - it's all very strange!

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