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North face of the Eiger in august 2009


The “Mönchsbüffel“ trip came to a good end, everyone survived! Only Roland's and my psychological state had suffered. A lot of persuasion and two days of relaxing in Bern motivated for the bigger project.
 

Three days later we set up our tent under the west face of the Eiger. It was pouring cats and dogs. The only amusing thing was Bernhard's and his friends dialect from central Switzerland.

We moved to a bivouac 800 metres higher. The first trip to the mushroom – a rock located at an altitude of 3250 metres that can only be reached using a horizontally rigged rope – told us clearly: this will be a different kind of highline.


We start rigging, two lines are possible. When abseiling I feel afraid. I feel sick, the bottomless space pulls me down; the huge rock roofs above, more than hundred metres long, are extremely unusual. Suddenly there is fog and you cannot see anything within a second. The weather in the Eiger has it's own rules. 

Dean Potter comes by and jumps off the mushroom as many other BASE jumpers, too. I can see Dean opening his wingsuit perhaps 200 meters below me. There is a loud bang and he flies away in the direction of Grindelwald.

In the evening we are sitting in our nest watching avalanches going down the slope opposite from us. Our meals usually consist of pasta. Our sleep is short but recreative.

I cannot walk the 35 meter highline, however, Bernhard fights and manages to walk it after innumerous attempts.

As soon as I stand up I loose my orientation and have to catch at once. When the fog is very thick you cannot see anything and it is impossible to stand up.

I need innumerous attempts for the shorter line above the mushroom. I feel torn apart by the exposure, every time I catch the line I have to look to the right into the north face of the Eiger. I will never forget this perspective: compact overhanging rock that at some point cannot be seen clearly any more because of the height. I often clip in the line after a fall and watch the wall below me.

Eventually after many falls I manage to walk the line in both directions. I was deeply relieved and had a feeling for which it is worthwhile to suffer such exertions: genuine happiness!

Bernhard walks the shorter highline Free Solo, Roland films it, I take photos from above the line. Everything happens very quickly, I only try to look through the camera, the clicking of which has a calming effect. Looking through the camera, Bernhard's movements look surreal. After about six minutes everything is over. Bernhard is standing on the mushroom again, sways and drops on the belly. He remains lying there for about ten minutes.Finally firm ground under my feet again! From the point of waiting for the train of “Jungfrau” railway which takes us from the Eiger glacier station to the valley I know that we are finally safe. All went well!

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