Ueli Steck and Kilian Jornet Burgada, two of the speediest climbers in the world, teamed up Sunday for a one-day ascent of the Eiger’s north face, going “car to car” from the town of Grindelwald, Switzerland, nearly 10,000 feet below the Eiger’s summit, in about 10 hours.
The two men began running and speed hiking from Grindelwald, elevation ca. 1,000 meters (3,280’), started up the classic 1938 route at roughly 2,300 meters, and summited the 3,970-meter peak a few hours later, enjoying superb conditions on the face. They descended the west face and trotted back to town just over 10 hours later.
It was Jornet’s first time up the Eiger north face and Steck’s 39th. Steck set a speed record (solo) for the Eiger in 2008, climbing the 1938 route in 2 hours 47 minutes. (That record was subsequently broken by fellow Swiss climber Dani Arnold, in 2011, but Arnold used the fixed rope on the Hinterstoisser Traverse.) Jornet holds speed records on several major summits, including an 11 hour 48 minute round-trip on Denali’s West Buttress Route.
Though Jornet is best known as a mountain runner and ski-mountaineering racer, he has a solid Alpine climbing background, and this autumn he joined Steck for some acclimatization routes in Nepal, as Steck was preparing for an attempt on Nuptse. One of Jornet’s goals is breaking the speed record for climbing Mt. Everest.