In late August I went to the Bernese Alps in Switzerland and picturesque Grindelwald village. It is famous for Eiger and its menacing, steep north face. Due to it’s difficulty it was first climbed only in 1938. It is still a considerable challenge drawing many alpinists from all over the world.
The valley met us with low cloud level obscuring any views of surrounding peaks. In the morning situation got a bit better, but afternoon brought even more clouds, rain and higher up the mountain snow. As it turned out later the weather settled into this unfavourable pattern.
Together with Marcin, from Lodz Academic Mountain Club, we intended to climb Eiger over Mittelegi ridge. After a night in a tent at campsite in Grindelwald we board the train to Eismeer station (3159 m) located inside a tunnel carved inside the mountain in 1920s.
Thanks to directions from the station crew we go to platform section number 4 where we enter technical tunnel leading to the eastern glacier leading up to the Mittelegi hutte.
Fixed ropes near the exit are buried under wet snow and overcast sky does not look encouragingly. Where is our sun promised by the forecast? We pass by on the glacier a few teams moving back to the village. We go to the base of the wall anyway and our fears come true – rocks are covered by a layer of wet snow and at times streams of water. Climbing without visibility in the fog on wet, slippery rock and fixed metal bolts for belaying hidden under snow is out of the question. We backtrack to the tunnel and take another train to the higher station Jungfraujoh (3463 m) and walk to Mönchsjoch hutte (3658 m). As time goes by snowing gets stronger. We go to sleep watching piling up powder unsure what the next day will bring.
Due to recent snowfall and likely bad weather in the afternoon we decided not to go to Jungfrau as a more distant target with part of the way going through exposed snow slopes. We decide to attempt Mönch located close to the hut where normal route goes along the ridge limiting objective dangers.
In Mönchsjoch hutte we meet Magda I Grzegorz who have same plans. We chose to climb as two independent 2-man teams working in close proximity.
Morning brought much desired better weather conditions. At dawn we move out. Lack of well-trodden paths gives an impression of remoteness and wilderness despite the proximity of civilization.
Climbing conditions are very much winter-like, rocks are covered with a layer of snow and sometimes ice adding to the difficulty level of usually considered as an easier peak. WE maintain a good pace simu-climbing. Only the top parts of the route are equipped with metal rods for belaying, most of the time we use our own protective gear. As we move up sun warms us up.
The very end of climb goes along a knife-like exposed snow ridge where every step counts with no room for error. After around 3 h we all stand on the summit – 4107 m. cold wind and gathering clouds encourage quick return. Late afternoon we are safely back in the hut. For me and Marcin in is the end of our alpine adventure. We repack our gear and begin journey home.

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