John Elvis Harlin II (June 30, 1935 – March 22, 1966) was an Americanmountaineer and US Air Force pilot who was killed while making an ascent of the north face of the Eiger. Harlin graduated from Sequoia High School and Stanford University, and after establishing himself as a top-rank mountaineer with the first American ascent of the Eiger North Face's Original Route in 1962 and the American Direct on the Dru, he conceived of climbing the Eiger by the direttissima (Italian for "most direct") route. Two thousand feet from the summit his rope broke and he fell to his death. The Scottish mountaineer Dougal Haston, climbing with Harlin, successfully reached the summit with a German party following the same route, which was named the "Harlin route" in his honor. The story of the climb was recounted in the book Direttissima: The Eiger Assault by British author (and ground team member) Peter Gillman and Dougal Haston. Whilst working as a school teacher in the Swiss village of Leysin, John founded the "International School of Mountaineering" in 1964.
Harlin's son, John Harlin III, who was nine at the time of his father's death, is also a mountaineer and editor-in-chief of the American Alpine Club's American Alpine Journal. Harlin III, himself an accomplished climber and author of five books, recently climbed the Eiger by the "original" route. He has written a book about his experience entitled The Eiger Obsession. A film of the son's climb to exorcise the ghosts left by his father's death came out in May 2007: The Alps by Steve Judson and his Academy Award-nominated film team, is an Imax movie containing footage of the north face of the Eiger as well as other Alpine peaks.