John Harlin led the four-man British–American team and intended to make an Alpine-style dash for the summit as soon as weather conditions allowed. The Germans, with an eight-man team, planned a relentless Himalayan-style ascent, whatever the weather.
The authors were key participants as the dramatic events unfolded. Award-winning writer Peter Gillman, then twenty-three, was reporting for the Telegraph, talking to the climbers by radio and watching their monumental struggles from telescopes at the Kleine Scheidegg hotel. Renowned Scottish climber Dougal Haston was a member of Harlin’s team, forging the way up crucial pitches on the storm-battered mountain. Chris Bonington began as official photographer but then played a vital role in the ascent.
Eiger Direct, first published in 1966, is a story of risk and resilience as the climbers face storms, frostbite and tragedy in their quest to reach the summit.
This edition features a new introduction by Peter Gillman.
Peter Gillman is an award-winning author and journalist. He was born in London in 1942 and edited Isis while at Oxford. He joined the Weekend Telegraph as a feature writer in 1965 and, a climber himself, covered the 1966 Eiger Direct for the Telegraph group, which sponsored the British–American team. He later spent twelve years as a feature writer and investigative reporter at the Sunday Times. He has written numerous books, including The Wildest Dream, a biography of George Mallory co-authored with his wife Leni, which won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in 2000. His writing has appeared throughout the national and specialist press, and he has won a record seven awards from the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, some jointly with Leni, including one for their book Extreme Eiger, first published in 2015. He was elected chair of the OWPG in 2016. He also works as a trainer in journalism and writing and has presented workshops at the annual Byline journalism festival.
Dougal Haston was born in Currie, near Edinburgh, in 1940. He was one of Britain's leading mountaineers and a compelling figure in climbing history. After landmark winter ascents in Scotland, he made attempts on the original 1938 route on the North Face of the Eiger in 1960 and 1962, finally succeeding with Rusty Baillie in 1963, so making the second British ascent. He first climbed with John Harlin in 1964. Following the Eiger Direct in 1966, Haston achieved international fame through ascents of Annapurna in 1970 and Everest in 1975, when he and Doug Scott became the first two British climbers to reach the summit. Away from climbing, he was a controversial figure known for his rock-and-roll lifestyle. He was director of the International School of Mountaineering in Leysin, Switzerland from 1967 until his death in 1977 in an avalanche while skiing. The day before his death he had finished writing a novel, Calculated Risk, which now appears like a death foretold. It was published in 1979.
Chris Bonington – mountaineer, writer, photographer and lecturer – was born in London in 1934. He first climbed in Snowdonia at the age of sixteen and has since become one of the pre-eminent figures in British mountaineering. He made the first British ascent of the North Face of the Eiger by the original route in 1962, and led the expeditions that made the first ascents of the South Face of Annapurna in 1970 and the South-West Face of Everest in 1975. He reached the summit of Everest himself with a Norwegian expedition in 1985. He has written numerous books, fronted television programmes, and lectured to the public and corporate audiences all over the world. He was awarded a knighthood in 1996 for services to mountaineering.
Exploring Mallory's early years, the Gillmans take the reader to Cambridge and Bloomsbury where Mallory consorted with some of the most colorful literary and artistic figures of Edwardian England: Rupert Brooke, James and Lytton Strachey, Maynard and Geoffrey Keynes, and Duncan Grant, among others. The Wildest Dream moves on to examine exactly what Mallory accomplished as a climber, evaluating the quality of his routes and skills within the context of climbing in the early 1900s.
At the heart of this biography, and of Mallory's life, is his wife, Ruth. The letters they exchanged during the many separations caused by World War I and three Everest expeditions reveal the depth of their commitment to each other and the unwavering support and strength Ruth offered George. The Everest expeditions are also insightfully rendered, offering perspective on criticisms levied at Mallory after the 1921 and 1922 attempts. The authors examine how Mallory, a dedicated husband and father, arrived at his fateful decision to participate in the doomed 1924 expedition and why he continued to press for a summit attempt when the odds seemed stacked against him. As Mallory once declared, a climber was what he was, and this is what climbers did; this was how they fulfilled their wildest dreams.
On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).
Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap, which Outside called "the moon landing of free soloing…a generation-defining climb. Bad ass and beyond words…one of the pinnacle sporting moments of all time."