Erik Weihenmayer May Attempt Eiger North Face
2/7/14 - Blind climber Erik Weihenmayer is laying plans for an attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland in the spring of 2015. Weihenmayer, 45, said last month that he has long dreamed of doing the classic 1938 route on the Eiger, and that he hopes to prepare for an attempt this summer in Chamonix.
Mike O'Donnnell, an American climber living in France, said at his Facebook page that he would be joining Weihenmayer in Chamonix to train for a possible Eiger climb. O'Donnell, a longtime guide and powerful climber, has partnered with Weihenmayer on numerous difficult climbs, including summiting Mt. Everest with the blind climber in 2001. He worked as chief rigger on the Eiger for the Imax film The Alps.
Weihenmayer, who went blind at age 13 as a result of a degenerative disease affecting the retinas, has completed many difficult mountaineering ascents, including Mt. Kenya, Artesonraju and Alpamayo in Peru, and Mt. Cook in New Zealand. On ice he has done such major routes as Polar Circus in Canada, the Ham and Eggs Couloir in Alaska, and Losar in Nepal.
The 1938 route on the Eiger, which winds up the 6,000-foot north wall via devious traverses and ramps, is usually climbed with an average of two bivouacs. Although it was originally climbed in summer, the route is now normally attempted in winter or spring for better ice conditions and less rockfall.