Sorry, this product has been archived and is no longer available for purchase. The ultimate classic mountaineering literature, The White Spider , follows Heinrich Harrer and team of three up the notorious North Face of the Eiger, leading to their successful first ascent. Harrer's intimate knowledge of the Eiger, that comes only from first hand experience, gives The White Spider a gripping and evocative account of what it takes to accomplish such a remarkable and historical ascent. The physical daring and mental resiliance required to succeed in such a legendary expedition gives great insight into the mind of a mountianeer and the soul of a mountain- an essential read for any climber, mountaineer or anyone with an interest in the astonishing capacity of human spirirt and fortitude. Not only does The White Spider cover Harrer's ascent, but it also details every significant attempt from the first attempt in to the many successes and failures of the s.
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In at a time when nobody was thinking of reconciliation, when the world was still quivering with hate and bitterness against the war and those who were responsible for its origin, he[Guido Tonella] uttered the following message, loud and clear:. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving….
Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. The White Spider dramatically recreates not only the harrowing, successful ascent made by Harrer and his comrades in , but also the previous, tragic attempts at a wall of rock that was recently enshrined in mountaineer Jon Krakauer's first work, Eiger Dreams.
For a generation of American climbers, The White Spider has been a formative book--yet it has long been out-of- The White Spider dramatically recreates not only the harrowing, successful ascent made by Harrer and his comrades in , but also the previous, tragic attempts at a wall of rock that was recently enshrined in mountaineer Jon Krakauer's first work, Eiger Dreams.
For a generation of American climbers, The White Spider has been a formative book--yet it has long been out-of-print in America. This edition awaits discovery by Harrer's new legion of readers. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 28th by TarcherPerigee first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about The White Spider , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The White Spider. Mar 20, Raghu rated it liked it. In , I even visited his home village of Huettenberg in Austria and visited the Harrer Museum there. In the Museum, I found old newspaper clippings from showing that he was also one of the party of four which made the first successful ascent of the Eiger North face.
Having seen the immense vertical wall of the Eiger North Face when I had hiked the Bernese Alps some years before, I wanted to read Harrer's account of his climb. The book is actually an account of the drama, excitement and tragedies of the ascent of Eiger North Face in history - particularly from up to The North Face, being a vertical rock wall rising ft from the ground at Alpiglen, it had been a challenge to the mountaineers.
Harrer captures the spirit of the times in the s when every summer, the imagination of the European public and journalists was riveted on the North Face. The wall is completely exposed as it stood and so spectators and journalists could watch every attempt on the Face through telescopes in the train station or even in the comfort of their hotels.
Only bad weather obstructed their visual entertainment. And the Eiger North Face was famous for extremely unpredictable and bad weather. Still, because of this ability to watch every climb from beginning to end, every layman and journalist who has never even stepped on a rock face, became an expert critic and commentator about the 'follies' and 'mistakes' of the climbers. Harrer writes about all this without grudges and with reticent Austrian humour. He writes about his own team's successful assault with clinical details and graphic descriptions of the various portions of the ascent on ice and rock and over waterfalls.
The writng style is that of 60 years ago and also I read the translation in English from the original in German. Today's readers may find the style pedestrian and even a bit tedious, especially if one is used to the electrifying pace of Jon Krakauer in his book 'Into Thin Air', describing the Everest disaster. But anyone who is fascinated by Eiger would find it quite gripping and informative.
For me, the maps showing the route on the North face in great detail along with Harrer's narrative made it all come alive. Harrer also describes the tragedies of and when the behavior of a couple of climbers - Italian and British - came under intense scrutiny for the deaths of their companions on the mountain. In fact, over the 25 years of climbing reported in the book, one could see acts of great courage, honesty, humility, selflessness as well as some doubtful acts of false pride and even dishonesty and untruthfulness.
All in all, it is a microcosm of human life as it is lived. I found the book warm in its humanity and captivating in the narration of the events on the mountain. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the adventures on the high mountains, particularly the stunning Eiger North Face.
While I have never understood the motivation of people who willingly place themselves in harm's way by doing all sorts of bizarre things like hanging from ropes above precipices with rocks falling on their heads and winter blizzards forcing snow down their necks, I must admit they make fascinating reading. The Eiger, a particularly nasty rock face, was not successfully climbed from the north until the author and his team succeeded where many others had failed in This astonishing book is th While I have never understood the motivation of people who willingly place themselves in harm's way by doing all sorts of bizarre things like hanging from ropes above precipices with rocks falling on their heads and winter blizzards forcing snow down their necks, I must admit they make fascinating reading.
This astonishing book is the saga of the many who failed and the few who succeeded. Even today, with modern equipment, the north face of the Eiger represents an extraordinary challenge to even the best climbers. I must say, however, that Harrer is oftentimes defensive, rarely attributing anything but the best of motives to the climbers. Surely, some of them must have been climbing for the glory.
Perhaps the most tragic of all the climbs was that, in , of four climbers, two of whom were Mountain Rangers the call from their commanding officer forbidding the attempt came after they had already left who had made quite good progress until one of them was hit by a falling rock — a constant source of danger — and his colleagues decided to attempt a return down the face.
They all perished on the return trip. What happened is not entirely clear. Harrer speculates that the most experienced of the four fell while trying to traverse back across a sheer face to install some pitons to make the way for the rest. They had hauled up their lines behind them, a necessity evidently to get across this particularly bad section. His fall dragged the injured man down with him and killed one of the others.
The fourth man was left hanging feet in the air, almost above the Jungfrau railway station that carries tourists up through the mountain to a ski resort on the other side. Even though alpine guide policy was to never attempt a rescue because of the danger — something helicopters managed to do only many years later — several guides tried to help. Despite a truly heroic attempt to splice together two ropes, a difficult task with two warm hands, the remaining climber, Toni Kurz, had only one free hand, was dangling in the air, and was almost frozen stiff.
He might have made it, except that a knot became jammed in one of the snap rings that it traveled through and he lacked the energy to free it.
His would-be rescuers heard him plead for help through most of the night before he died. After a while, the litany of cold, rock falls, and Harrer's unrelentingly hagiographic description of mountaineers wears a little thin. Only the Italian Claudio Corti comes in for some oblique criticism. He was attempting to climb the face with an older climber, another Italian. They clearly had not prepared and, after a false start that consumed several days, met up with two German climbers who completed the climb of the face and died on the way down the west side who went with them for some distance despite a language barrier.
The Germans gave Corti their tent following a fall by Corti's partner whom he was not able to save and who died several days later hanging from a rope, despite tremendous efforts to save him. Corti himself was rescued only by winching a guide down from the summit on a steel cable. The guide then carried Corti on his back the remaining thousand feet up the face. Corti's confused and contradictory account of what had happened and where the Germans were — they had disappeared and their bodies were not located until several years later — made skeptics of many in the mountaineering community.
The Germans' loan of their equipment to Corti probably sealed their doom. Harrer includes a route map of the face for those idiots willing to contemplate such an adventure.
All sorts of security measures and new equipment have come on the market since Harrer's successful climb, but in spite of these new advantages, "the North Wall of the Eiger remains one of the most perilous in the Alps. View 2 comments. As far as an objective assessment of this book is concerned, I'd recommend it heartily - Harrer speaks from a position of great expertise, having been involved in the first successful conquest of the North Face of the Eiger..
Well researched, beautifully described though a number of slightly strange choices of phrase, due probably to the Austrian author not writing in his As far as an objective assessment of this book is concerned, I'd recommend it heartily - Harrer speaks from a position of great expertise, having been involved in the first successful conquest of the North Face of the Eiger.. Well researched, beautifully described though a number of slightly strange choices of phrase, due probably to the Austrian author not writing in his mother tongue and incredibly thorough - for fans of adventure, outdoors and modern heroism ish this is a very important and interesting work.
I was slightly wearied by the nature of the book, however, not being a big mountain climber myself. There's only a certain number of times you can describe a very similar process, with the associated necessary technical language, without losing the reader's interest a little.
In addition, the final quarter of the book contains a certain amount of bitterness associated with criticising the Italian survivor of a climbing disaster which killed three others. Despite a later-added postscript addressing this, it does feel a bit bitter and draws attention to the author's keenness to make sweeping statements about different European nationalities in the immediately post-WWII historical context.
Sep 17, Chris rated it liked it. I really did want to enjoy this, I gave this a go after reading Joe Simpson's "Beckoning Silence" since he had been so inspired by this book in his childhood. But I came away from it with far less appreciation that I had anticipated; the first few chapters are undeniably very compelling as Harrer outlines the early history of the Eiger attempts, the tragedies of climbers like Toni Kurz for example, and not to mention his own successful ascent which was the first ever.
But much of the rest of the I really did want to enjoy this, I gave this a go after reading Joe Simpson's "Beckoning Silence" since he had been so inspired by this book in his childhood. But much of the rest of the book, and much of the expansions which were added on in the following years, leave a great deal to be desired as Harrer's tone shifts more towards the critical and vindictive, scorning unsuccessful climbers in some instances, and descending into almost pure tirade when he turns his attention to Corti and the rescue attempt.
Frequently Harrer repeats and insists that he is merely providing an objective eye and is leaving personal feelings aside, reviewing only the facts, but I fail to see how this is the case in his hypocritical and paradoxical praising of certain ascents and condemnation of others.
The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger
The White Spider
In at a time when nobody was thinking of reconciliation, when the world was still quivering with hate and bitterness against the war and those who were responsible for its origin, he[Guido Tonella] uttered the following message, loud and clear:. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.