Andreas Heckmair (known as Anderl) (born 12 October 1906, Munich, Germany, died 1 February 2005, Oberstdorf, Germany) was one of the four men who first climbed the north face of the Eiger in 1938.
The most experienced mountaineer in the group (Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek), Heckmair led the most difficult pitches in the ascent, aided by the extensive kit (including new 12-point crampons) that he and Vörg had purchased using sponsors' money. Even as the most experienced climber, he still ran into several problems on the North Face of the Eiger, such as when he slipped whilst climbing out of the exit cracks. Luckily, Ludwig Vörg caught him by his feet, piercing his hand on Heckmair's crampons as he did so. The success brought Heckmair fame throughout the world, but particularly in his native Germany. The reception included an audience with Adolf Hitler (whom Heckmair had met before after working with Leni Riefenstahl). Although the Nazis used his achievement for propaganda Anderl shunned the publicity and never joined the Nazi party. After serving on the Eastern Front in World War II, he worked as a mountain guide in his native Bavaria, and was one of the driving forces in the formation of a professional association for mountain guides.
In addition to the Eiger climb, Heckmair climbed new routes on the Grandes Jorasses and many other alpine mountains. He also participated in expeditions to the Andes and the Himalaya. He was also partially responsible for the development of the "two rope" climbing system. In 1934, he took part as a reserve of the DSV team (Franz Fischer, Gustav "Gustl" Müller, Matthias Wörndle) in the legendary Trofeo Mezzalama ski mountaineering competition. Heckmair started one and a half hour after the teams as single runner and overtook all the competing teams.
David Pagel, My Dinner with Anderl,Ascent, AAC Press, Golden, CO, 1999, pages 13–26.
Anderl Heckmair, My Life: Eiger North Face, Grandes Jorasses, and Other Adventures, The Mountaineers Books, Seattle, WA, English Translation by Tim Carruthers, 2002, from Eigernordwand, Grandes Jorasses und andere Abenteuer, AS Verlag & Buchkonzept AG, Zürich 1999, ISBN 3-905111-38-1. The English translation appears abridged. Also available in French (likely more complete) as Alpiniste, Editions Guerin, Chamonix, 1997 from "Mein Leben als Bergsteiger" (1972) and "So War's" (1991).