The Changing Eiger – Climate Change in the Alps?

Many thanks to fellow guide Mark Seaton for promting me to dig these photos out.  Working in the mountains day by day and year on year, we are very aware of rapid changes currently going on due to melting of permafrost and glacial recession in the European Alps and other mountain ranges.

Here are 3 photos I took over a period of 16 years, showing just how much the South Ridge of the Eiger has changed so far this century (the North Face is similarly affected – all the permanent icefields have gone now).

The photos were taken in July 2001, July 2012 and July 2017 – basically the South Ridge has changed from climbing mostly on snow to mostly on rock, making it a much longer outing.  Nowadays when we take clients to climb the Eiger traversing via the Mittelegi Ridge is probably the easier option, whereas it used to be the other way around.

Accessing the Mittelegi Hut is still fine, but the glacier continues recede at the foot of the face each year.

Eiger South Ridge, July 2001
Eiger South Ridge, July 2012
Eiger South Ridge, July 2017