One of 3 interconnected peaks in the Swiss Alps, a section of the much larger Alps mountain range that covers a large part of Switzerland in Central Europe, is one of the country’s most iconic sights.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Eiger, one of the most famous mountains in the world for a wide variety of reasons.
1. It’s located in a particular section of the Swiss Alps
The Eiger is one of the most famous mountains of the Swiss Alps and is located in a section of this immense mountain range called the “Bernese Alps.”
As the name of this range suggests, it’s located near the capital of Switzerland, Bern. This is in the western part of the country and just southeast of the city.
This region is one of the most picturesque areas in Europe. The mountain overlooks the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the villages of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. This section of the Bernese Canton is known as the “Bernese Oberland.”
2. It’s not the tallest mountain but does hold a remarkable record
The tallest mountain in the Bernese Alps is the Finsteraarhorn, a mountain that stands 4,274 meters (14,022 feet) above sea level.
This is not even the highest mountain in Switzerland as this honor is reserved for the “Dufourspitze” in the Monte Rosa Massif on the border of Italy and Switzerland.
This mountain stands 4,634 meters (15,203 feet) tall which makes it the second-highest mountain in both the Alps and Western Europe after the Mont Blanc.
Compared to these monsters, the Eiger is relatively low with a height of 3,967 meters (13,015 feet). What makes the mountain so special is the fact that it features the “biggest north face in the Alps” out of the 6 immense north faces of the range.
3. The southern side faces an enormous glaciated area
While the huge north face of the mountain is one of the most fascinating attractions in the Alps for climbers, the south face overlooks another popular tourist attraction in the region.
The Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001, is the largest glaciated area in the Alps. This area features the Aletsch Glacier, one of the most amazing glaciers in Europe, among many others.
This area also features one of the most iconic sights in all of Switzerland as three huge mountains literally join each other. These are the Eiger, the Mönch (4,107 meters / 13,474 feet), and the Jungfrau (4,158 meters / 13,642 feet).
This is an incredible sight because the peaks of the Eiger and the Jungfrau are only located about 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) from each other, and the Mönch is located right in between them as well.
4. The north face was only climbed 80 years after the first ascent was made
The north face of the Eiger can easily be described as one of the biggest attractions for climbers in the world. The fact that it’s relatively easily accessible and the sheer size of this monstrous rock attracts climbers from all around the world.
Even though the summit of the Eiger was reached way back in 1858 through a complicated route on the western part of the mountain, it took a lot longer until somebody managed to conquer the north face.
This section of the mountain is known as the “Eigerwand” and stands about 1,800 meters (5,905 feet) tall from its base. Until the year 1938, this section of the mountain was deemed “unclimbable” and was even described as “an obsession for the mentally deranged” in the Alpine Journal edition of the year.
Later that year, a team of German and Austrian climbers managed to reach the summit by climbing the north face. The climbers were named Andreas Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer, and Fritz Kasparek, and they reached the summit on July 24, 1938.
5. The mountain features viewing platforms that can be accessed by train
One of the most amazing facts about the Eiger is not only that there’s a mountain pass located at the base of the north face called the “Kleine Scheidegg,” but that there’s a railway running right through the mountain.
The Jungfrau Railway line is the highest railway in Europe and connects the Kleine Scheidegg and the Jungfraujoch which is located in the Canton of Valais.
Tunnels were carved right into the Eigerwand and other adjoining mountains to create this railway line, quite an amazing achievement from an engineering perspective.
The approach to the Eiger is the railway station of Kleine Scheidegg which provides an astounding view of the majestic north face of the mountain.
More interesting facts about the Eiger
6. The first mention of the Eiger was made in the year 1252 when it was referred to as “Mons Egere.” Nobody really knows where this name comes from.
Today, the 3 adjoining peaks in this section of the Bernese Alps are referred to as the Virgin, the Monk, and the Ogre, a reference to the Jungfrau, the Mönch, and the Eiger.
7. The Eiger features the biggest north face of the Alps out of a list of 6 other mountains that feature huge north faces. The other mountains on the list are the Matterhorn, Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Petit Dru, Piz Badile, and the Grandes Jorasses.
Out of these 6 mountains, the Matterhorn is perhaps the best known as it also features a relatively symmetrical summit. It’s also one of the hardest to climb and one of the deadliest peaks in the world with over 500 casualties to date.
8. One of the upper sections of the Eiger’s north face is called “The White Spider.” This named was given to this section by Heinrich Harrer, one of the men that made the first ascent of this complicated face.
He also wrote a book about the experience in 1959 called “The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger.”
In this book, he mentioned that the men were caught in an avalanche in a section covered in snow that resembled the legs of a spider. They managed to hold on and reach the summit shortly after.
9. Today, the north face has been climbed numerous times. It remains one of the most complicated walls to climb in the world, even more than most of the highest peaks in the Himalayas.
What’s remarkable is that it’s most often climbed in the winter. The ice fields at that time of the year are larger in numbers which makes the climb a bit easier.
10. If you’re not a climber, the only way to conquer part of the north face is by train. When you reach the “Eigerwand Station,” you have reached a height of 2,864 meters (9,396 feet) and you find yourself within the north face of the mountain.
This incredible railway station opened its doors on June 28, 1903, but is unfortunately not often used anymore today.
If you do manage to make a stop here, this is by far the best way to experience what the climbers trying to reach the summit have to go through!