A classic of mountaineering literature, The White Spider tells the story of the harrowing first ascent of the Eiger’s North Face, one of the most legendary and terrifying climbs in recorded history.
Heinrich Harrer, author of Seven Years in Tibet and one of the twentieth century’s greatest mountaineers, was part of the team that finally conquered the fearsome North Face of the Eiger in 1938. It was a landmark expedition that pitted the explorers against treacherous conditions and the limits of human endurance, and which many have since tried – and failed – to emulate.
Armed with an intimate knowledge that comes only from first-hand experience of climbing the Eiger, Harrer gives a gripping account of physical daring and mental resilience, a subtle and affecting portrait of both the mind of the mountaineer and the soul of a mountain. An introduction by Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void, reminds us of the enduring relevance of this true adventure classic.
At 13,025 feet, the Swiss Eiger doesn't approach the height of Everest or Denali, but the sheer rise and difficulty of its 5900-foot north face keeps it in the company of the world's most celebrated peaks. At the time Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet, originally the sequel to this volume) became part of the first successful summit climb in 1938, the north face of the Eiger was considered the "last and greatest of Alpine problems" left in the world. Originally published in 1959 (with chapters added in 1964 and an index covering subsequent Eiger climbs), this riveting account of his ascent and the history of confronting the Eiger--beginning with the first fatal attempts to conquer the north face in 1935--is a crisply written paean to the mountain where Harrer first earned recognition as a world-class climber. A simple narrative style brings to life the many obstacles faced by Eiger climbers--snowstorms, avalanches and a continuous shower of falling rocks among them. Harrer has a Hemingwayesque appreciation of the codes, bravery and rules of conduct governing the closed world of "true mountaineers." And he reserves special contempt for the sensation-seekers who gather to watch deadly feats of climbing from the ground below. Sections that document the evolution of climbing gear (Harrer wore no crampons on his 1938 ascent) and national rivalries in the WWII-era climbing community help make this volume an important contribution to the emerging canon of mountaineering literature.
Awesome and inspiring
The classic mountaineering book. Utterly inspiring. If you are remotely interested in the mountains and climbing you must read this.