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Climbing the Eiger
In 1936, he formed part of a four-man team making the second attempt to scale the north face of the Eiger. He was renowned as one of the best rock climbers of his time and is held in high esteem to this day. He cleverly traversed a slab of icy rock, a feat which made the rest of the attempt on the Eiger possible, by climbing up on it and lowering himself to execute a pendulum to the other side, securing a rope and enabling his companions to cross the impassable section. This move became known as the Hinterstoisser Traverse.
During a retreat from the wall, due both to an injury suffered by one of his comrades and to the severe weather, Hinterstoisser could not recross the traverse to safety because the group had previously removed the rope that had helped them across. The group decided to abseil down the vertical face (the great rock barrier) to the base of the mountain. Contact was made with a railway guard halfway down the descent during which the climbers called back that everything was all right (perhaps from pride and the knowledge that they were close to safety). However, as Hinterstoisser set up the last stage of the descent an avalanche came down the mountain, wiping out Hinterstoisser, who had unclipped from the group. He fell to his death and was found at the bottom of the mountain days later. The rest of the group suffered the same fate: Willy Angerer was killed by the impact; Edi Rainer was asphyxiated from the weight of the rope holding his comrades; and Toni Kurz died from exposure, despite having made contact with rescuers.
The 2008 film North Face was based on his experience climbing the Eiger.