The summit tour of the Eiger

Fränzi Schiesser tells us about her tour on the narrow ridge

Packing the essentials for the upcoming tour into my rucksack, I set off for Grindelwald around midday. A few thoughts about the Eiger run through my head - reports from tours, programmes from the media, which I have been dealing with in the past months. And now the time has come. I have great anticipation and respect at the same time. Because the images of the impressive and exposed Mittellegigrat are buzzing around in my mind. No need to doubt, I tell myself - I am well prepared and know what to expect. I've done unforgettable and beautiful preparation tours, I'm acclimatised, my carbohydrate stores are full and the weather forecast is also good. These positive thoughts ease my tension somewhat.

Selfie of a woman with sunglasses and climbing helmet
Fränzi Schiesser
On the left the narrow Mittellegi ridge, in the background on the right the sun sets over the Alps
View of the Mittellegi Ridge
Mittellegi hut in the evening
Mittellegi hut in the evening

Arriving in Grindelwald Grund, I deliberately take the cogwheel railway, because I want to take my time going up in front of this magnificent scenery. Waiting on the platform, Polo Hofer's "Im letschtä Tram..." comes from the loudspeaker, hopefully not... I think to myself. But it's nice - this is Bernese Oberland "life". The train pulls strongly up to Kleine Scheidegg. Once there, I change to the train towards Jungfraujoch. One last look at the grazing cows on the alpine pastures before entering the dark tunnel.

I get off at the Eismeer station. Before I meet my mountain guide, I look up from the viewing window towards the Mittellegihütte - our destination for today. On the "Challifirn" you can already see the track towards the hut. A little nervous, I make my way to the meeting point. There are already some people there, they must be the mountain guides. Other guests also arrive. After the greetings and introductions, I now know who my mountain guide is. Fabian - he is an aspirant in his 2nd year of training. Excited about the two days ahead, we rope up. Then we go down to the exit, where the wind is howling.

Roped up, I am lowered to the glacier. After a few metres of walking, Fabian leads the way. The temperatures are pleasant. We quickly pass the glacier, because above us is a threatening-looking glacier cliff. Arrived at the rock, Fabian looks out for the "gäbige" entry. The footholds and holds are small in this limestone, but they are easy to find. Always standing securely - with small steps - this short climbing section runs first uphill and then traversing over rock bands up to the Mittellegi hut. We make rapid progress. Fabian seems experienced, confident, responsible and calm. It fits, we are looking forward to the upcoming summit day. Satisfied on arrival, we enjoy the impressive panoramic view at the Mittellegi hut. An "eagle's nest" with a deep view. A special place that cannot be put into words... Mirjam, the hut warden, welcomes us warmly. She manages all the hut work alone, sometimes with a little help from the mountain guides and guests. Mirjam deserves respect, these are long and busy days. After sitting together in the cosy hut, having interesting conversations and an excellent "z'Nacht", we go outside to watch the evening atmosphere. The fog snakes around the ridge. Everything ready for the day ahead? Yes, and now off to the "horizontal" with earplugs.

People climbing along a cloudy ridge
Mountain hut on a narrow rocky ridge

After a good night's sleep, we have breakfast with the obligatory "Kafi". Outside, while roping up in front of the hut in the headlamp light, a first grandiose moment awaits me: the colours on the horizon and the Mittellegi ridge illuminated in the lights for the anniversary ascent. On the short rope we overcome many upswings and climb up towards the "big tower". Only our steps on the rock break the silence a little. With the increasing snow and ice, we now mount the crampons. The rope teams have started staggered, so we only have to wait once for a short while. This offers the opportunity to eat a bar and look down into the depths from the ridge: Indescribable - to the left and right it goes "ds Loch ab". In "green" Grindelwald can be seen down in the valley. Concentration is still required at every step. A slip or misstep could be fatal. With great climbing with the crampons in the limestone, we gain height. Over a narrow saddle we continue to the "big upswing". For a change, we climb on ropes, but always stand on the crampons, that saves strength and energy - don't pull up with your arms. A mountain guide once gave me this advice.


Rope team on the way across a firn field to the summit of the Eiger
Rope team on the way to the summit of the Eiger

We are approaching the summit. But for a moment it is shrouded in a cap of fog. Nevertheless, we are grateful, very happy and proud to have made it. Now we have a summit cola and chocolate to celebrate the moment. But the way is still long. We set off for the descent via the south ridge. I resolutely put two small limestones in my jacket pocket as a souvenir. After only a few metres we are back in the warming sun. We abseil down several steep steps. Down over platy rock steps. A steep firn slope leads us to the northern "Eigerjoch". I am curious, there the rock changes from limestone to gneiss. Indeed, beautiful and varied climbing leads us over rock, firn and ice passages to the last firn ridge in the southern "Eigerjoch". Once there, I am overwhelmed by the quiet mountain world and the view back to the distant Eiger summit. Because of the crevasses, we walk on the stretched rope across the glacier to the Mönchsjochhütte.

I am grateful for this great tour. A big thank you to Fabian! The last walk to the Jungfraujoch takes us back to civilisation. A culture shock, so many people after this silence. I would have loved to be back at the Mittellegi Hut. But the well-deserved "Kafi" in front of my eyes and in my nose. We descend with a full train, get off at the Eigergletscher station and walk purposefully to a quiet restaurant and end this unforgettable tour together with another rope team in good conversation. Merci Fabian! Also a thank you to Mirjam from the Mittellegihütte, Outdoor and also my family, who always let me "pull".

You can find more information about the summit tour on the Eiger on our website

Der Mittellegigrat des Eigers in der morgen Sonnen.