Willy Angerer

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Willy Angerer
Willy Angerer.jpg
Personal information
NationalityAustrian
Born1905
DiedJuly 21 1936
Eiger, Bernese Alps, Switzerland

Willy Angerer (c. 1905 – July 21, 1936) was an Austrian mountaineer. He was one of four mountaineers who died in the 1936 Eiger north face climbing disaster, along with Toni Kurz, Andreas Hinterstoisser and Eduard Rainer. [1] At twenty-seven Angerer was the oldest of the four climbers who died. [2]

Contents

Background

The north-face of the Eiger was considered to be the last great Alpine problem in the 1930s. [3] In the summer of 1935 two Bavarian climbers died attempting the climb despite a rescue attempt. Four climbers, two Austrians and two Germans, arrived in Alpiglen, a settlement of Grindelwald, in July 1936, intending to climb independently. [4]

The climb

North face of the Eiger where Angerer and his colleagues died Eiger Nordwand - panoramio (1).jpg
North face of the Eiger where Angerer and his colleagues died

The two Austrians, Angerer and Rainer, reconnoitered the route for a good line on July 6 because the previous attempt by Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer had taken two days to climb the first 700 meters and their conditions were not good, so retreated. On 18 July Angerer and Rainer returned to the mountain to restart their attempt. [4] A rock fall injured Angerer in the head on 20 July 1936, forcing them to descend. However, when they reached the very difficult Hinterstoisser traverse, now ice covered due to the worsening weather conditions, from which the rope had been removed on the way up, they were unable to retreat through to safety and were forced to descend straight down. They were hit by an avalanche which carried Hinterstoisser away, while Angerer was violently crushed against the wall and strangled to death by the rope around his neck. Rainer, being pressed against the rock wall with the rope tight around his waist, froze to death. The only survivor, Toni Kurz, died the next day, within a few meters above his rescuers, but inaccessible. [4]

Kurz was the last to die, hanging in his harness a few meters from a tunnel opening where a rescue team tried in vain to help him. With the mounting deaths on the Eiger's north face, the German press name "Nordwand" (North wall) was soon punned in sensational reports as "Mordwand" that translates in English as "murder wall". [3]

Legacy

Angerer and his fellow alpinists' tragedy became well known after the publication of Heinrich Harrer's classic 1960 book The White Spider. [5] The Edward Whymper disaster, during which four alpinists died, on the first ascent of the Matterhorn seventy-one years before, had formerly been the most publicised Alpine disaster. [4] The 1936 event was covered by Joe Simpson's 2007 book (and Emmy-winning TV documentary), The Beckoning Silence , as well as in the 2008 German dramatic movie North Face . [5] [6]

Related Research Articles

Eiger Mountain in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland

The Eiger is a 3,967-metre (13,015 ft) mountain of the Bernese Alps, overlooking Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, just north of the main watershed and border with Valais. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends across the Mönch to the Jungfrau at 4,158 m (13,642 ft), constituting one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps. While the northern side of the mountain rises more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the two valleys of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, the southern side faces the large glaciers of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, the most glaciated region in the Alps. The most notable feature of the Eiger is its 1,800-metre-high (5,900 ft) north face of rock and ice, named Eiger-Nordwand, Eigerwand or just Nordwand, which is the biggest north face in the Alps. This huge face towers over the resort of Kleine Scheidegg at its base, on the homonymous pass connecting the two valleys.

Kleine Scheidegg Mountain pass in Switzerland

The Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 m (6,762 ft), situated below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. The name means "minor watershed", even though it is actually higher than the neighbouring Grosse Scheidegg. Possibly this is because Kleine Scheidegg is a watershed between the two arms of the Lütschine river, while Grosse Scheidegg divides the Lütschine from the Rychenbach stream.

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<i>The White Spider</i> book by Heinrich Harrer

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Andreas "Anderl" Heckmair was a German mountain climber and guide who led the first successful ascent of the Eiger north face in July 1938.

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Toni Kurz was a German mountain climber active in the 1930s. He died during an attempt to climb the Eiger north face with his partner Andreas Hinterstoisser.

Andreas Hinterstoisser German mountaineer

Andreas Hinterstoisser was a German mountain climber active in the 1930s. He died during an attempt to climb the Eiger north face with his partner Toni Kurz. A section of the north face was later named the "Hinterstoisser Traverse" in his honor. The 2008 film North Face was based on his experience climbing the Eiger.

Karl Mehringer was a German mountaineer and climber. Notable for being part of the first team to attempt to climb the Eiger Nordwand or North Face in 1935. He and Max Sedlmeyer climbed as far as the top of the "Flat Iron" feature where they were overtaken by a storm and died. His body was found in 1962 on the second icefield by a German rope team.

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1936 Eiger north face climbing disaster

The 1936 Eiger north face disaster, which began on 18 July 1936, resulted in the death of five climbers during the 1936 climbing season on the north face of the Eiger.

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References

  1. Grindelwald: The Eiger (PDF), Jungfrau Region Marketing AG, pp. 1, 3, archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-23, retrieved 2016-12-28
  2. Willis, Clint (8 December 2014). The Boys of Everest: The Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation. New York: Pavilion Books. p. 62. ISBN   978-1-91023-219-4.
  3. 1 2 Julyan, Robert Hixson (1984). Mountain Names. Seattle: The Mountaineers. p.  84. ISBN   0-89886-054-7.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Gillman, Peter; Gillman, Leni (4 June 2015). Extreme Eiger: The Race to Climb the Direct Route up the North Face of the Eiger. London: Simon & Schuster. pp. 35–36. ISBN   978-1-47113-460-9.
  5. 1 2 Cooper, Kate (May 2008). "The Eiger Nordwand Revealed: Rainer Rettner Interview". UK Climbing. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  6. North Face on IMDb