Ueli Steck on His Alpine Solos
and a New Route on GII
You mentioned climbing alone the Ice Pitch on the first ascent of The Young Spider as the worst moment in your climbing career? Was it the pitch you opened solo when Stefan went to Patagonia?
I was below the Spider. There was the Spider Icicle there, a 60-meter pitch with very thin ice.. I kept climbing on very very bad pro, where falling was really not an option. When I was out of rope I pulled up my powerdrill on my tagline. But the drill didn’t work, because it had got wet from the water running down the face. I couldn’t go further up and the ice was just too thin to use an icescrew. So I had to climb down.
The next day I took a handdrill. I made a variation to the left, leading on the rock, and after 60 meters I reached a good place for an anchor. When I was climbing in winter I did the same variation. The original section which I climbed solo is seldom in good condition.
It’s incredible that it was the moment you called the worst, having in mind the description of your fall during the solo ascent of that route, cut vein and so on…
This fall during the solo ascent was around 8 meters. I had a solid rope and a bolt. The only problem was that my knee hit the rock. But this was more like having a fall while sportclimbing…
You climbed the North Face of Eiger a dozen times via different routes and I know that this wall means a lot to you. Could you tell me, in few words, why?
This is just the perfect mountain. You walk half an hour to get there and you start climbing. You can do everything there – rock, mixed, classic alpine climbing, everything you like. It’s 1800-meter high wall and of course the Eiger is a legend!!!
Many young climbers dream about ascending this wall, even via the Classic 1938 route. Could you give them any advice or instructions?
Weather conditions are an incredibly important factor. In good conditions it is a piece of cake, in bad conditions it can be very hard. So the best time for climbing Eiger is when there is a lot of hard, frozen snow (April, May) or when the whole wall is quite dry with not too much water ice (often in September and October).