The Eiger is a mountain in the Alps of Switzerland. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge-crest that extends to the Mönch (4,107 m) and across the Jungfraujoch to the Jungfrau (4,158 m). The peak is mentioned in records dating back to the 13th century but there is no clear indication of how exactly the peak gained its name. The three mountains of the ridge are sometimes referred to as the Virgin (German: Jungfrau, lit. "Young Woman" - roughly translates to "Virgin" or "Maiden"), the Monk (Mönch) and the Ogre (Eiger). The name has been linked to the Greek term akros, meaning "sharp" or "pointed", but more commonly to the German eigen, meaning "characteristic".
The first ascent of the Eiger was made by Swiss guides Christian Almer and Peter Bohren and Irishman Charles Barrington who climbed the west flank on August 11, 1858.
The Jungfraubahn railway runs in a tunnel inside the Eiger, and two internal stations provide easy access to viewing-windows in the mountainside. The railway terminates at Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe, located in the col between the Mönch and the Jungfrau.
In July 2006, a piece of the Eiger, amounting to approximately 700,000 cubic metres of rock, fell from the east face. As it had been noticeably cleaving for several weeks and it fell into an uninhabited area, there were no injuries and no buildings were hit.
The Nordwand, German for "north wall", is the spectacular north (or, more precisely, north-west) face of the Eiger (also known as the Eigerwand, "Eiger wall"). It is one of the six great north faces of the Alps, towering over 1,800 m (5,900 ft) above the valley in the Bernese Oberland below.
It was first climbed on July 24, 1938 by Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek of a Germanâ€“Austrian group. The group had originally consisted of two independent teams; Harrer (who didn't have a pair of crampons on the climb) and Kasparek were joined on the face by Heckmair and Vörg, who had started their ascent a day later and had been helped by the fixed rope that the lead group had left across the "Hinterstoisser Traverse." The two groups, led by the experienced Heckmair, co-operated on the more difficult later pitches, and finished the climb roped together as a single group of four. A portion of the upper face is called "The White Spider", as snow-filled cracks radiating from an ice-field resemble the legs of a spider. Harrer used this name for the title of his book about his successful climb, Die Weisse Spinne (translated into English as The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger). During the first successful ascent, the four men were caught in an avalanche as they climbed the Spider, but all had enough strength to resist being swept off the face.
Subsequently the face has been climbed many times, and today is regarded as a formidable challenge more because of the increased rockfall and diminishing ice-fields than because of its technical difficulties, which are not at the highest level of difficulty in modern alpinism. In summer the face is often unclimbable because of rockfall, and climbers are increasingly electing to climb it in winter, when the crumbling face is strengthened by the hard ice present.
Since 1935, sixty climbers have died attempting the north face, earning it the German nickname, Mordwand, or "murder wall", a play on the face's real German name Nordwand.