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Eiger east face poised to collapse


Two million cubic meters of the Eiger's East Face are poised to crash down into the valley hundreds of meters below due to a 300m horizontal fissure.

Ueli Steck

The Eiger is collapsing! This is neither a metaphor nor the title of a catastrophic film, but today's headline news: two million cubic meters of the Eiger's East Face are poised to crash down into the valley hundreds of meters below. According to The Times, a huge 300m horizontal fissure has sliced through the rockface and the limestone slab and 1600m, cutting the first half of the legendary mountain's East Face in half.

The fissure is monitored constantly by geologists and glaciologists and Hans-Rudolf Keusen, one of Switzerland's greatest experts, believes this could become be one of the biggest rockfalls ever. The only consolation is that the enormous collapse should not affect anyone as there are no habitats underneath.

Mountains have been moving ever sine time began, they are a living element which evolve as a result of erosion, water and ice and atmospheric conditions. What is striking however is the speed with which the alpine glaciers are retreating due to the variations and transformation of the world climate.

Rockfalls have grown both in intensity and frequency in recent years and so too have the scientist's warnings concerning glacial retreat, which is probably the cause of this fissure as the Grindelwald glacier no longer supports the rockface. From the Dolomites to the Eiger (like the Pale mountains comprised of "soft" limestone) all we can do is watch this phenomena. In the meantime, the Eiger's enormous fissure has become a true tourist attraction...

Christoph Hainz and the Eiger North Face
Ueli Steck climbs The Young Spider, Eiger North Face

photo: Ueli Steck on The Young Spider, Eiger North Face (ph arch. U. Steck)





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