10/15/10 - Robert Jasper and Roger Schaeli, well-known German and Swiss professional mountaineers, became the first climbers to free-climb the John Harlin direttissima ("most direct") route with the Heckmair exit on the north face of the Eiger. This is the second of the old classic routes they've freed on the Nordwand—in 2009, Jasper and Schaeli climbed the Japanese direttissima route at 5.13b.
From September 20-23, Jasper and Schaeli climbed the 1,800-meter-high (5.905 feet) route in redpoint style at M8-/5.11+/5.12- R, facing danger with the face's infamous rock fall hazards and 44-year-old pitons.
The team chose to climb in September because rock fall is prevalent in the summer, and the winter is too cold. "It was a balance between what is just tenable and the risks on the wall," Jasper said in an email. "You have to know what is important here."
After three days on the wall, the pair reached the 3,970-meter-high (13,024 feet) Eiger summit at around 8 p.m. They then bivied for the night and rappelled down the Eiger's south wall the next morning.
In March 1966, American John Harlin died while attempting the first ascent of the diretissima—Harlin's rope was severed while he was prusiking. One of his partners, Dougal Haston, continued to the summit with a German party climbing the same route, and they named it in Harlin's memory. "Climbing this legendary route, I could not stop my thoughts from turning to that drama," Jasper said. "That route was the most emotional climb of my whole life!"
Dates of ascent: September 20-23, 2010
Source: Robert and Daniela Jasper