Swiss skyline route

Alpinists set new record on the Swiss Skyline route

Two Swiss alpinists Nicolas Hojac and Adrian Zurbrügg set a new record on July 12, 2022. It took them 13 hours and eight minutes to climb the Swiss Skyline route Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the Bernese Oberland.

The two Bernese beat the previous record set by Ueli Steck by three hours and two minutes.

Mammut Pro Team athlete Nicolas Hojac and Adrian Zurbrügg set off on a special mission on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022 – a record attempt on Switzerland`s most famous mountain range. The pair headed out of Grindelwald Grund at 01:00 to complete the world-famous trio Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau’s skyline within a new record time.

The planned route deviates in one section from Ueli Steck’s passage. During his 2016 ascent, the Swiss climber bypassed one of the most challenging sections on the Jungfrau East Ridge. Hojac and Zurbrügg pursued the goal of establishing the new record on the direct line, climbing the more difficult section on the Jungfrau East Ridge via Mathildespitz.

After weeks of planning and preparation, the ideal conditions presented themselves in mid-July 2022. “We wanted to climb the route as quickly and safely as possible. For this, we depended on ideal conditions”, the two explained.

The snow-poor winter in combination with the unusually hot days in June made planning the project more difficult. Especially as conditions typically encountered in late summer prevailed. For the project`s success, it was crucial that there would not be too much glare ice on the route. In that case, more belays would be necessary, costing the two alpinists significantly more time.

“We knew that without belays, we might be able to climb way faster through the glare ice – but taking that risk was no option”, explains Nico Hojac. However, the weather provided favourable circumstances, which made the time-consuming belaying unnecessary.

All was set for the record attempt. While most mountaineers need four to five days for this ascent, the aim was to beat Ueli Steck’s record of 16 hours and 10 minutes. By sunrise, the two alpinists had already climbed to the Eiger summit and covered almost 3000 meters of altitude. The record chase was going according to plan. Towards the tour`s end, they undoubtedly felt the lack of sleep and exertion. Therefore, the experienced alpinists needed to focus all the more on climbing safely.

At 14:08, the alpinists reached the bus stop in Stechelberg – the route’s finishing point. It took them 13 hours, 8 minutes and 49 seconds to complete the distance of 30.46 kilometers and the altitude of 4780 meters. Their time is three hours and two minutes faster than Ueli Steck’s original record.

“Climbing the route in this time makes us very proud,” said Hojac and Zurbrügg overjoyed. However, they are also fully aware that an even faster time might be possible as Ueli Steck had not maxed out his previous record. But for Hojac it is not primarily about the comparison with others: “What appeals to me the most is the personal challenge. It’s about learning and growing through these projects.”

Header image: Nicolas Hojac and Adrian Zurbrügg on the Mathildespitz during the ascent of the Jungfrau. Credit: Mammut Sports Group AG, Carlos Blanchard

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