On Saturday night I’ll be eagerly heading to the Stockport Plaza for the UK leg of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. There will be a pint or two beforehand, during and probably afterwards, and then a curry with my climbing pal Matt. So a top night beckons with some top climbing films in the line-up.
Last year was my first experience of the Festival, with the highlight being a sneak preview of Ueli Steck : The Swiss Machine. Steck, who holds the world speed record for a solo of the North Face of the Eiger, is an extraordnary individual.
This video, an extract from The Swiss Machine, shows you why. The exposure on this route is mind-boggling and on two occasions he slips slightly, leaving your heart in your mouth. “I know if I do a mistake, I fall off” he says, matter-of-factly.
“You want to keep moving, having a progress in your life”, he says on the commentary, as he’s shown bounding along the ridge, on his way to a time of 2hrs 47 minutes – over an hour faster than his previous ascent the year before. It’s a philosophy most of us would recognise, but he pushes it to dizzying extremes.
Steck is a true hero amid many heroic explorers and adventurers, as this stunning new book – Mountain Heroes: Portraits of Adventure (Face to Face) – acknowledges and celebrates.
But it’s his taming of the ferocious North Face that enthralls me. The face is famous and infamous in equal measure, with pages of text and hours of film dedicated to its history and the horror stories around it.
Forget Everest, for me it’s the most enchanting, alluring and fascinating mountian going. Here are my top five Eiger-related books;
1. The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer
2. The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson
3. Anderl Heckmair: My Life: Eiger North Face, Grand Jorasses, & Other Adventures
4. The Climb Up To Hell by Jack Olsen
5. The Eiger Obession: Facing the Mountain That Killed My Father