Hiking The Eiger with John Harlin


The Great Outdoors has a cool story today with the author, Peter Potterfield, hiking the Eiger with none other than John Harlin himself. For Potterfield, it’s his first trip to the iconic European mountain, but Harlin has lived with in it’s shadow, literally and figuratively, his whole life.

Back in 1966, Harlin’s father, also named John, was a climbing legend in Europe, and along with Scottish climber Dougal Haston, he attempted to climb the Eiger on what became known as the Eiger Direct route. Harlin, Sr. lost his life on that climb when a rope broke. Harlin, Jr., who was just a boy at the time, vowed to never climb that face, but the mountain loomed over him no matter where he went, and two years ago he returned to the Eiger and exorcised it’s demon by scaling it himself. He then wrote a book about his experience entitled The Eiger Obsession, which I reviewed here.

Now, Harlin returns to the mountain to give Potterfield a tour, riding the Jungfrau Railroad to the Eiger Trail, and then proceeding to hike it’s length. Despite the fact that the pair are hiking the mountain, rather than climbing it, the trek is still a challenging one, with steep, rocky trails, and perilous drops.

The hike is detailed nicely in the article and it sounds like quite an experience, with breathtaking views all around. Especially of the other famous peaks of the region that include the Wetterhorn, the Jungfrau, and the Monk. Reading Potterfield’s description of the trek, it sounds like it’s an amazing experience, and one of those things you shouldn’t miss out on when in Switzerland. I know there are a lot of famous hikes in Europe and that this is seldom listed amongst them, but for m any of us, the only way we’d see the summit of the Eiger is along a path like this. That alone makes it worth the effort.

Great story. Definitely a must read.

3 thoughts on “Hiking The Eiger with John Harlin”

  1. The Eiger: “Our man will be involved in a climb in the Alps this summer. And we know which mountain he will climb: the Eiger.”

    —”The North Face, of course”—and allows that he is familiar with that particular alpine wall: “I tried to climb it twice, it tried to kill me twice… Look, if the target’s trying to climb the Eiger, chances are my work will be done for me.”

    Clint never spoke words so true.

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