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White Spider, The
The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger

Format Book Category Narratives
Title White Spider, The  Pages 364 
Author Heinrich Harrer  RRP $20.00 AUD 
Publisher Penguin USA  Reviews
Edition Reprint edition (October 1998)  Ave Rating ***** (5.00 of 5)


User Comments
The White Spider (1958)
Heinrich Harrer
The Eiger Sanction

The Essential Gist: Ex-Nazi and member of the first successful Eigerwand team Harrer writes the biography of the most infamous Nordwand in climbing history. He has vays of making you read.

60-second summary: As inter-war Brit Colin Kirkus stated disapprovingly in his classic book 'Let’s Go Climbing': ‘Accidents. This is a morbid subject to choose. It is also, perhaps, the aspect of climbing which makes the most interesting reading’. Well, the story of the attempts to scale the Eiger’s North Face is one which features accidents and drama aplenty. The most celebrated of these is the ghoulish and voyeuristic tale of poor old Tony Kurz, left hanging hypothermically from a thread within feet of the reach of his would-be rescuers until a chilling, lingering death claimed him. The imagery which Harrer managed to conjure up in his telling of this and other spine-chilling tales entered into the collective psyche of post-50s climbing and, thenceforth, escaped into the wider media. For example, just about any post-50s bergfilm, from The Eiger Sanction to Cliffhanger can be seen to feature elements influenced by Harrer’s rocky horror show. A landmark of climbing literature - arguably for all the wrong reasons.

Characteristic excerpt: ‘The guides and the climbers, who had spent a life in the mountains, remained silent. One doesn’t announce publicly that one has written off men as lost. The guides and the climbers knew well enough why they hadn’t turned back; it was because the avalanches and the falling stones had caught them in a terrible trap. In addition there were the fearful difficulties of the rocks, now plastered with snow, and at the very best swept by cascading waterfalls. The only hope now was to fight a way out to the top. That is what the guides and the climbers knew. They sensed too, that Sedlemayer and Mehringer, the first two to attempt the North Face, also knew it all too well and were struggling forward simply because one mustn’t give in. The curtain of the mists closed down again, to hide the last acts of the first tragedy of the Eiger’s North Face from the eyes of men. A gale, whipping the snow-flakes horizontally against the rocks, the thunder of avalanche, the plash of waterfalls, in which the staccato rattle of falling stones mingled shrilly - these were the melody of the Eiger’s Face, the funeral organ-voluntary for Max Sedlmayer and Karl Mehringer.’

Like this? Try these…. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
I rate this as one of the best mountaineering books around! A classic and a must read for everyone wanting to get inspired for adventure. 
This is perhaps the best writtern climbing book of its time. If you have been put off reading historic texts by some of the choss thats came out of england in this period, then read this. 

Further Reading:
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