Climb the North Face of the Eiger, Switzerland
There’s no getting away from it. If the rope snaps, I’m a goner. This was pretty much all I could think about as my guide, Beat (pronounced ‘Bay-art’), slowly let the rope slip through his fingers to lower me over the side of an almost 13,150ft mountain. Located in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, the Eiger’s reputation causes even hardcore climbers to go weak at the knees. Lined up alongside its Alpine siblings, the Jungfrau and Monch, this monolith of ice, rock and snow has seen many perish in their attempts to climb.
Soap-slippery ice walls and frequently-falling rocks make the North Face especially treacherous. Traditionally, the closest us mortals get is the viewing platform at the top, accessible via a 25-minute train ride from the village of Kleine Scheidegg; from here you can sit and sip a latte while contemplating the stupidity of those daft enough to try climbing it. Now, however, Beat and his colleagues at Eiger Vision can escort you out onto the mountainside.
Having shuffled off the train halfway up, I huddled with my group against the tunnel’s limestone flanks, where Beat’s chief piece of advice was to ditch our sunglasses: “there’s no sun on the North Face of the Eiger…” Seconds later we shuffle through the tunnel, emerging onto a precarious snow shelf halfway up the Rote Fluh — a notorious cliff wall about twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. Viewed from the valley earlier that morning, it had appeared little more than a fist-sized dimple in the north face’s entirety — such is the vastness of this giant.
Yet once I settled my backside into the safety harness, I felt sufficiently confident to sneak a peek over my shoulder. Spread out before me like a Google Maps close-up, were petrol-blue lakes, the view extending for about 50 miles. As beautiful as it may have been, I wasn’t sorry when the time came for Beat to winch me back to safety.
Dog-sledding, Bjorkliden, Sweden
Snowshoeing, Banff National Park, Canada
Zip-lining, Ischgl, Austria
Ride a Snooc, Le Grand-Bornand, France
Fat biking, Lake Tahoe, California
Ice fishing, Whistler, Canada
Published in the Winter Sports 2017 guide, distributed with the October 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)