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Author: Robert Jasper
First free ascent of the Japanese Diretissima on the Eiger North Face
For six years the Eiger and the project of redpointing the Japanese Route kept me in. Over and over again my friend Roger Schдli and myself tried to climb the two by then well known crux sections, the "Difficult Crack" and "Rote Fluh".
The "Rote Fluh" is the steepest, most difficult and most rejecting part of the entire Eiger North Face. Our final goal was to free the entire Japaner-Diretissima which heads right through the "Rote Fluh". Now - precisely timed for the 40th anniversary of the historical route which was ascended first in 1969 - we finally succeeded.
the 15th of July until the 15th of August 1969, the Japanese Expert
Climbing Team, including one female Doctor, fought their way on a
merciless direct straight up the [Eiger North-] Face. The entire
team had a wild determination to hiss their flag with all their
signatures and good wishes on the famous summit.Above the "Difficult
Crack" they left the classic route of the first ascenders of 1938
and started to explore a new and straight line through the face. The
200m high section named "Rote Fluh" is extremely steep and mainly
overhanging - challenging for even the masters of the 6th grade.
Scary, compact and only now and than a little edge or a thin crack
besides the endless shadow, the void and continuous unsteadiness",
described by Toni Hiebeler in his historic publication "Abenteuer
The Japanese-Team had first climbed the route back in 1969, mainly in technical style, using 250 drilled bolts and following the "straight line of the falling water s" using hooks and step ladders pushing forward.
My first contact with the Japanese Diretissima dates back to 1991. During an alpine style attempt of the route, I got into an terrible rockfall while climbing the headwall and had to turn back. Yet the questions remained ever since if the the compact and blank structure of the "Rote Fluh" would allow a free ascent of not only this section, but the entire route. However the rusty bolts of the Japanese Expedition did not encourage me climbing on my personal limits.
Little above zero degrees celsius - quite warm for the Eiger North Face. Roger and myself are spotting the black stripes of the melting water throughout the "Rote Fluh" – exactly where we are supposed to climb. Slippery conditions are awaiting us and we both seriously doubt that it makes sense to go on and try the crux pitch in these miserable conditions. The famous mountaineer Hermann Buhl once compared the "Rote Fluh" to the North Face of the "Westlichen Zinne": unclimbable in freeclimbing manner.
About half of the holds of the "Rote Fluh" are wet. We climb and fight ourselves forward. Two of the most difficult pitches are also partly wet and we need several tries to freeclimb them. With wet and icy fingers I catch tiny hold after tiny hold, my tight climbing shoes constantly slipping off because of numb toes. Blindly I move through the studied moves, having hardly any feeling in my limbs.
It is mere willpower that keeps me pushing forward, revealing yet unknown power recourses. On the third try, I finally - barely - get through the crux pitch. We can make it! The following day (29th of August) we have bad weather conditions and spend the day waiting in our little tent at the "Stollenloch". The air pressure is rising in the afternoon and as forecasted the weather changes for good during the night. This is our chance.
The whistling sound of falling rock takes our imagination back to the famous historic tales of the Eiger. Its almost too much of an adventure. Shortly before the "Centerband" - our third planned Biwi – the rockfall gets suddenly heavier. A fist-size stone hits my helmet and almost cracks it. Luckily it did not knock me off my feet and off the wall. Worn out and tired we build up our tent. The rockfall continues throughout the night and stones almost hit our tent more than once. We try hard to give our stressed nerves a rest. A little food and drink then we crawl into our sleeping bags.
Despite all torments we both manage to recover a little for the next day.
Like the last days Roger and myself change leads continuously and manage to move on quickly. On the "Sphings Pillar" Roger fights like a samurai - an open bill with one of the pitches 6,A2. Now freed this pitch becomes a hard 7b.
Greeted by the last rays of evening sunlight we flee the never ending shadow of the Eiger North Face and hug each other full of relief on the summit of the Eiger. It's done.
Roger and finally made it and our free ascent of this historic route will be a bright diamond gem in our both alpine climbing careers.
you for reading and greetings,
Details on the route, the topo, an extensive image gallery and a video trailer will be published on my website within the days and weeks.
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