The Need For Speed


The north face of the Eiger in the Bernese Oberland is one of the three great north faces in the Alps. Over 60 people have died attempting the 13,000ft wall which has its own violent weather system and is subject to constant rock falls. It was first climbed in 1938 and the ascent took three days. But time has moved on and in February 2008 the young Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck completed the climb solo in an astonishing 2hrs 47 mins 33 secs!

Grande Jorasses

Eight weeks earlier in December 2007 Steck broke the record for the fastest ascent of the second of the great alpine challenges, the north face of the Grande Jorasses in the Mont Blank massif. He climbed the 13,900 ft wall, which includes 1,200 ft of 95 degree ice, in 2 hrs 21 mins.


In 1965 the legendary Walter Bonatti completed the  greatest of the three challenges, the first solo winter ascent of the north face of the Matterhorn, on the Swiss Italian border. The assault  took him six days and he came very close to death. In January 2009 Steck ran up the 14,000 ft face in an unbelievable 1hr 56 mins!  You can watch a breath-taking summary on this HD video:

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