Robert Jasper reachs another milestone on the north face of the Eiger
The John Harlin direttissima route with Heckmair exit climbed freestyle for the first time.
Extreme mountaineer Robert Jasper (42) – considered one of the best alpinists in the world – together with his rope partner, the Swiss professional mountaineer Roger Schaeli (31), has forged another breakthrough on the north face of the Eiger.
From 20th – 23rd September Jasper and Schaeli climbed the world-famous John Harlin direttissima route with Heckmair exit in redpoint freestyle for the first time.
The 1800m high route, known as the John Harlin direttissima on the north face of the Eiger, is one of the most challenging in the world, with rock and ice presenting real technical difficulties. (Mixed M8- /rock 7a; E5; redpoint). The pitons left behind 44 years ago by the first climbers were very dubious. After the Eiger Japan direttissima (1st free ascent, Jasper/Schaeli, 2009), the “free Harlin route” is the second major “line” in modern freestyle climbing through the north face (pitons now just serving as security, no longer aiding progress). But it is so dangerous that climbing it in the summer was out of the question. Then again, in the winter it is too cold, which is why these two professional mountain climbers chose autumn. “It was a balance between what is just tenable and the risks on the wall,” said Jasper. “I made my first attempt at this route in the winter as early as 20 years ago; I had to turn back on my own. After three further attempts I had gained the experience I needed. You have to know what is important here. When I climbed the north face of the Eiger whilst making the IMAX film with John Harlin III (the son of John Harlin II who fell to his death in 1966 on his first ascent when his rope broke) I was really affected by his family tragedy.”
“Climbing this legendary route, I could not stop my thoughts from turning to that drama. As I lead climbed the very length of rope where John Harlin had his fatal fall in 1966, thoughts of my family and the risks of the mountain flitted through my mind, which was really tough. That route was the most emotional climb of my whole life!”
After three days on the wall, at around half past eight in the evening, partners Jasper and Schaeli reached the summit of the 3970m high Eiger in true Alpine style. Elated but utterly drained, they set up their third bivouac a few metres below the summit on the knife-edge ridge. The next morning, an abseil down the 700m high south wall brought them back down to civilization.
Text: Daniela Jasper