The colourful history of the Eiger brings this mountain, like few others, in to the popular domain and
means it is both famous and notorious not just with mountaineers but with the public at large. A lot of the Eiger’s fame comes from its enormous, steep and imposing north face, the Eigerwand. Less well know but equally of high interest and greater accessibility to the mountaineer are the Eiger’s fine summit ridges. Our 5 day Climb The Eiger course warms up with 2 training climbs in Chamonix before heading East for an adventure in the Bernese Oberland, the mountain range in the Swiss Valais Alps with the Eiger at its heart…
- Climb two of the classic ridges on the Eiger and thus make a fine traverse of the mountain
- Warm up with two classic alpine climbs based in the Chamonix Valley
- Climb a famous 4000m peak of the Swiss Bernese Oberland, like the Jungfrau or Monch
- As the approach to the Mittelegi Hut is an alpine climb itself we aim to climb 5 alpine routes in 5 days
5 Day Climb The Eiger Itinerary
This is a suggested itinerary based on good weather. It may be necessary to change the programme to make best use of local mountain conditions.
- Pre-Course fitness & mountaineering training and then, if you have the time, some training and acclimatisation in the hills above Chamonix for a few days before the course starts. We can offer advice on how to get the most out of these pre-course elements.
- Day 0: 1800 Evening introductory talk by a Mountain Guide, meet other group members and ask any questions about the week. Sort out any equipment needed for the week.
- Days 1 & 2: Complete two training & acclimatisation climbs based in the Chamonix Valley. The exact climbs will be decided close to the time according to weather & conditions and based on your experience and aspirations. These climbs will include steep rock, ice and snow to prepare for the terrain on the traverse of the Eiger. Examples are the Aiguille du Peigne (3009m) in the Chamonix Aiguilles, Left Edge Route on Mont Blanc du Tacul and many other Chamonix classics. Check our Chamonix Mountaineering Gallery for more information.
- Days 3 & 4: The Ascent of the Eiger. An early start for the drive to Grindlewald which is followed by the spectacular train ride up the Jungfraujoch railway. We disembark at a tiny station in the bowels of the Eiger and make our way along the technical ascent up to the spectacularly positioned Mittelegi Hut. After an evening of relaxing Swiss hospitality we make an early start next morning to climb the Mittelegi Ridge and descend the South Ridge to the Monchsjoch Hut. A long day! If conditions are snowy we may opt to climb the South Ridge instead.
- Day 5: Climb the Monch, Jungfrau or Gros Fiescherhorn from the Monchsjoch Hut. Another classic days mountaineering on a Bernese Oberland 4000m peak depending on the weather and energy levels remaining after the Eiger. Take the Jungfraujoch train back to Grindlewald and return to Chamonix for evening celebrations.
Who Can Climb The Eiger?
The mere sound of this mountains name “The Eiger” tells you that this is not a beginners peak! This ascent is therefore only suitable for folk with previous rock climbing and mountaineering experience. Confidence and competence is required with crampons and ice axe and climbers should be capable of seconding steep rock pitches in mountain boots (Alpine IV, UK Severe, U.S. 5.6) wearing a rucksack. The summit day can be quite long (9-12 hours) and therefore good fitness, stamina and the abillity to concentrate on exposed terrain when tired are all also important. Further training in these skills along with swift alpine rope work will be given at the start of the week but it is essential that folk have proven competence in all these fields already. Please get in touch to discuss your experience levels or, if you are not sure, why not complete one of our Chamonix mountaineering courses beforehand?
Peter Little, Eiger Climber, July 2015
Rob, I had an amazing time, and yes I’m over the moon about summitting the Eiger – and of course getting back down safely. Paul was great – a wonderful mix of knowledge, skill, experience and measured patience, which helped me enormously. I learned a great deal too. The commitment to helping me achieve my goals and flexibility to making this happen all played a part in making it a success. Warm Regards, until the next adventure….
We often get asked about guiding the North Face of the Eiger and what sort of preparation and mountain skills are required for people with this goal. How fit do you need to be? How tough & experienced from other alpine climbs and how long does it take to develop all this experience?
In reality the preparation for an ascent like this is not a ‘box ticking’ exercise but moreover a case of building solid skills in a wide range of mountaineering areas. Once these are developed they need consolidation on other tough high mountain alpine climbs & north faces. Only then will the alpinist emerge…. Someone who not only possesses high level skills from technical rock, ice & mixed climbing but also has the toughness & cool headedness to deliver them in a high & exposed mountain arena where fatigue, fear, dehydration & hunger are constant companions!
As discussed these skills all merge in to each other & large mixed alpine faces are amazing alpine training venues in that they demand a multitude of mountain tac tics, skills and physical & personal traits just to get to the top of them! However here is an attempt to isolate some of the required skills and assess how they may be acquired:
- Good general mountaineering movement skills gained from many trips in to the mountains and including tough walking over broken terrain; rocky scrambling; use of crampons and one ice axe. Experience of this can be gained on classic alpine ‘pd’ terrain or Scottish grade I-II routes.
- Rock climbing skills, seconding up to at least F6b / UK E2 with rock climbing shoes on and at least F5c / UK HVS with mountain boots and a pack on.• Very solid & efficient rope work skills as well as the ability to manage all other mountain equipment effectively & swiftly. An ability to look after yourself in terms of temperature regulation, hydration & fuelling and to be able to do all this without it slowing the pace of the climbing team.
- Very solid cramponing on ‘classic alpine north face terrain’ eg 50-65 degree snow & ice and to have the fitness & muscular endurance to do this for miles on end with a big pack on. This experience is best gained through other alpine routes & smaller north faces. Examples would be routes on Chamonix’s Triangle du Tacul and other smaller North Faces like the Tour Ronde, Gran Paradiso, Les Courtes, Aiguille du Chardonnet & Midi etc.
- A solid skill level with 2 technical axes on steep ice & mixed ground eg WI 5 & M5+ / Scottish VI gained from technical alpine routes – eg some classic Chamonix Goulottes; hard Scottish winter routes from grade IV upwards but at least some seconding of Scottish grade 6 pitches. Some dry tooling routes, especially on limestone to simulate a similar style to the Eiger would also be useful.
- The ability to climb steep broken or technical rock passages in crampons is also an essential skill on the Eiger ascent. This is best gained from lots of general alpine mountaineering & technical mixed climbing Scottish style winter mixed routes & dry tooling practice.
- Obviously great fitness is required for an ascent of the Eiger north face but, unless we are trying to emulate Ueli Steck (which we are not!) then this is more of an endurance / diesel engine style fitness. Blistering ground speed is not required but the ability to maintain a steady & efficient pace for several days on the go without drastically fatiguing is critical. This must be achieved despite the possible additional factor of spending a night or several bivis on the face. The art of making yourself comfortable on a small, cold & exposed ledge for the night is another skill that needs practice therefore!
Like many hugely rewarding ascents & achievements, success on the Eiger Nordwand is likely to come as a result of a long & tough series of pathways of preparation. Even then there still requires a temporal alignment of good conditions, great weather & a partner who is available and as fit, well trained & motivated as you are. Good luck….but more to the point, good training and do get in touch if we can help with your personal Eiger training plans and arrange some alpine climbing with us. Having done a few routes together we can then advise you on a training programme to be able to attempt the face.
In the meantime watch our inspiring short film of a one day ascent of the 1938 route on the Eiger North Face by High Mountain Guides staff Rob Jarvis & Mike Brownlow:
2018 Course Dates & Prices
Our course includes 5 climbing / guided days and an introductory talk the evening before the first day.
Courses are run in July, August & early September. Get in touch to discuss your own dates to arrange a private guiding arrangement.
Max Guide to client ratio is 1:2 for days 1 & 2 and 1:1 for days 3-5
£1975 based on 2 clients sharing a guide for days 1 & 2 and 1:1 guiding for days 3-5
£2445 based on an individual booking with 1:1 guiding for days 1-5
What’s included in the Price?
Our courses are priced on a ‘guiding only’ basis which means you pay the exact cost price for all other expenses like hotels, mountain huts and lift passes. These expenses amount to about 600 euros which includes 6 nights half board accommodation in a hotel & mountain huts & lift passes. You could reduce this figure if you wanted to stay in a gite or camp and increase it if you want to stay in a more luxury hotel.
- 5 full days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide
- Car transport during the course
- Course planning & booking of mountain huts
What’s not included?
- Valley accommodation. This course is based at ‘Ice & Orange’ (Chalet Tissiers) in Chamonix which offers pleasant half board accomodation from 46 euros per night. They only charge for the nights you are actually there and will happily store luggage when away in the mountain huts. If this is full or you would like an alternative style of accommodation please see our recommended list for places to stay in Chamonix. Camping will significantly reduce the overall cost (starting from 9 euros) and there are several good campsites in ‘Les Bossons’, Chamonix, very close to Ice & Orange. Try ‘Camping 2 Glaciers’; Camping les Cimes or Camping Les Marmottes.
- Mountain huts & lift passes, for you and the guides. Allow about 50 euros per night half board accommodation. The guides expenses are split between the group members and are discounted in huts, hotels and on lifts and trains. The best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group ‘kitty’ which you contribute to and all expenses are paid out of.
- Flights and transfer from the airport to Chamonix.
- Lunches, extra drinks, snacks etc during the course