“For me, this was probably my most beautiful mountaineering experience,” Roger Schaeli wrote on Instagram today after also climbing the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses with his team partner Simon Gietl. Simon also raved about a “new dimension of experiences, adventures and impressions”.
It was the sixth and last classic north face of the Alps that the 43-year-old Swiss Schaeli and the 36-year-old South Tyrolean Gietl had mastered in the past two and a half weeks – and they had done so according to the “fair to the mountain” principle: The two covered the distances between Cima Grande (2,999 meters) in South Tyrol, Piz Badile (3,308 meters), Eiger (3,967 meters) and Matterhorn (4,478 meters) in Switzerland as well as Petit Dru and Grandes Jorasses in France by road bike. On Piz Badile and Eiger, the two top climbers used paragliders to return to the valley after their ascents. “North6” was the name they gave their project.
“We had 14 active days, one break day and three bad weather days with rain and snow (above 2,000 meters),” Roger writes. “30,770 vertical meters of ascent, 29,470 vertical meters of descent. 1011 road bike kilometers are behind us.” In parts, the conditions were tough. For example, there was a lot of fresh snow on the classic Schmid route on the North Face of the Matterhorn – named after the first climbers in 1931, the German brothers Franz and Toni Schmid. “The tour is intense in these adverse conditions,” Simon judged. Climbing the Petit Dru North Face was also anything but a walk in the park. “Right in the first pitches spindrift. We had to stop for minutes to let the snow whiz by,” Roger described the difficult conditions. In the end, however, Simon said the North6 project was “under a bright shining star.”
Established among Europe’s top climbers
Roger Schaeli is often called “Mr. Eiger” in the scene: The Swiss climber has already climbed Eiger North Face more than 50 times, sometimes on new routes or free climbing. The professional mountaineer has also made first ascents in the Indian Himalayas, Patagonia, Alaska and Greenland. Some of them he made with his friend Simon Gietl. Like Schäli, the South Tyrolean is a permanent fixture on the European top climbing scene. Simon has also been on two expeditions with Thomas Huber, the elder of the Huber brothers, in the Karakoram in Pakistan.