On the north face of the Eiger, Silvan Schüpbach and Peter von Känel rediscover traditional alpine mountaineering. The two spend days climbing vertical and overhanging rock, pursuing a “bold and elegant” line that symbolizes the rebirth of a mountaineering style that has never been forgotten.
The north face of the Eiger, one of the most iconic walls in the Alps, is where some of history’s best mountaineers have challenged themselves. Its reputation is built on the difficulties, the cold, and the terrible conditions experienced by those who choose to tackle it. Even today, climbing it requires exceptional concentration and skills.
Silvan Schüpbach chose to put himself to the test here, together with his climbing partner Peter von Känel. The two studied the wall closely, looking for weak points where they might be able to pass, creating a new route. Then, after waiting for the right conditions, they packed their bags and were ready to attack the wall on August 19, 2023. Their idea was to climb using only traditional protective gear, without bolts. “It seemed like a fascinating challenge to me,” explains Silvan. “Many new routes have been added to the north face of the Eiger in recent years. I’ve repeated many of them, and I’m fascinated by their quality and beauty. Developed with a great deal of effort and skill, they all have in common the fact that they were created with the help of power drills and bolts. Mountaineers climb the walls of the Eiger, and the protection is ‘ensured,’ with the help of modern drills. I don’t criticize this approach at all; it’s simply the logical evolution of climbing.” But the question that the Swiss mountaineer asked himself is a different one. It’s not about the ethics of the climb, but rather whether “Today’s mountaineering skills can be applied to the Eiger, but using traditional means of protection.”