When Anderl Heckmair was twelve years old, he travelled to Switzerland for the first time and this is where he discovered his love for the mountains. Anderl quickly became very good at climbing and mastered extreme walls in the eastern and western Alps. But the fame was given to Heckmair for his ascent of the Eiger north face, which he had conquered together with his German friend Ludwig Vörg and the two Austrians Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek.
The two teams had entered the wall separately. Heckmair and Vörg feared bad weather and descended again. Besides Harrer and Kasparek there was another rope team in the wall at this time, but they also started to retreat after an injury. In the early morning of 22nd July Heckmair and Vörg climbed the wall again and reached Harrer and Kasparek already between the second and third ice field. They profited from the steps they had already taken, but were also faster due to their twelve-pointed crampons – Kasparek only had ten-pointed ones and Harrer had no crampons at all. Still climbing separately, both teams continued to climb, with Heckmair taking the lead. After having supported each other several times, the rope teams finally joined forces after having survived an avalanche together. After two more bivouac nights and three joint climbing days in bad weather and under constant avalanche conditions, the summit of the Eiger was reached for the first time over the north face at half past three in the night of 24th July.
picture rights: Archiv Heckmair-Auffermann