What you can see in the picture above – taking more picture is one of my sort off new year’s resolutions, not doing too badly so far- is the famous north face of the Eiger in the Swiss alps. Apart from skiing past this beautiful giant every day, I watched a film with the same name, ‘Nordwand’ or north face (don’t want to be Captain Obvious here, but you never know). Nordwand is a German film that tells the true story of a German duo (Toni and Andi) and a competing Austrian team that try to climb the famous ‘Eigernordwand’ in the summer of 1936.
The main focus of the film is the actual ascent, which results in many impressive climbing scenes that made me feel slightly queasy at times (and I’m not even scared of heights). It’s also interesting to see what kind of equipment (or lack thereof. Helmet? Anyone?) they used back in the day. Apart from the main climbing story, there’s also the story of the spectators in the village of Kleine Scheidegg who watch the alpinists spend let’s say ‘not the best days of their lives’ (spoiler alert: it’s really bad) from the comfort of their hotel’s terrace. Amongst those spectators: Luise, the small-town love interest of German mountaineer Toni Kurz turned journalist and Berliner, who is there to cover the adventures of the German heroes (there was no one who wanted German duo Toni and Andi to succeed more than the Nazi propaganda machine). So if ice-and-rock drama is not really your cup of tea there is still a little sideline love story to keep you entertained. This film had me sitting on the edge of my seet for most of it’s 126 minutes of running time and I found myself still thinking about the ill-fated adventures of Toni and Andi days after watching the movie.
A quick perusal through the Wikipedia page of the Eiger also taught me that no less than 64 people died in attempts to climb the mountain’s north face giving it it’s nickname Eigermordwand. Another fun-fact: in 2008 Swiss Ueli Steck climbs the north face in less than 3 hours. Spider Man has got nothing on Mr. Steck.