Since I was a child I have always harboured an ambition to climb the North face of the Eiger.
My initial interest was piqued by a report on a BBC children’s TV show in the 1970s, featuring this iconic face. I can’t remember the details of the report, but I can still picture in my mind’s eye the presenter sat at his desk with a photo of the Eigerwand looming over his left shoulder.
Since then, I have been into climbing – I have climbed mountains all over the world. I have worked full-time in the outdoors, both as a trek leader and a mountaineering instructor, and in 2010 proudly gained my Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC), the U.K.’s top climbing instructor qualification.
Three years later I was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s, which was a devastating blow, and one I’m still struggling to fully come to terms with. I have had to give up teaching climbing, but am still active in the outdoors personally, both in summer and winter.
I also realised that a window of opportunity to realise my childhood ambition was now closing quite rapidly. There is then quite an easy logical leap to combine realising my childhood ambition with an opportunity to raise funds for finding a cure for Parkinson’s, and the Parkinson’s North Face Climb challenge was born.
It is thanks to Berghaus that I will be kitted out in the best gear for the challenge next March. Meanwhile, the hard training has begun – the photos in this post were taken during a recent trip to the Cairngorms in Scotland, as winter started to show its face.
The north face of the Eiger is the hardest of the six classic Alpine north faces and was the last of these classics to be climbed. It is notorious for its stone fall and its loose rock, to the point where scores of people have been killed since its first successful ascent in 1938 by a strong Austrian team – as documented by Heinrich Harrer in his book “The White Spider”.
Although it has lost some of its aura of impregnability over the passing decades, it is still no pushover (the cruxes are roughly Scottish VI) and it remains a sought-after tick by any self-respecting alpinist. So for a fit and able mountaineer this would be a big enough challenge, what with the multi-day nature of the route, the consequent objective risk, and the cold.
For someone with Parkinson’s (whose dexterity, balance, stamina and speed of movement is reducing) this adds a whole extra level of difficulty and challenge to the enterprise. But if it raises the awareness of the disease and ensures the discovery of a cure it’ll be worth it.
I will be writing more updates as I climb closer to my target. Wish me luck.
The funds I raise will allow Parkinson’s UK to continue with its vital research work to find a cure, and improve the lives of the 127,000 people living in the UK who are affected by Parkinson’s. To sponsor Tim, visit his online giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/ParkinsonsNorthFaceClimb.