Great north faces of the Alps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The north face of the Eiger

The six great north faces of the Alps are a group of vertical faces in the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps known in mountaineering for their difficulty, danger, and great height. The "Trilogy" is the three hardest of these north faces, being the Eiger, the Grandes Jorasses, and the Matterhorn.

Six north faces[edit]

The six great north faces are (sorted by date of the first ascent):

Making the first ascent of each of these six faces was a major preoccupation of the best European climbers in the 1930s. Gaston Rébuffat, a French alpinist and mountain guide, was the first to repeat all six routes, chronicled in his 1954 work, Etoiles et Tempêtes (Starlight and Storm).[1]

the Trilogy[edit]

Three of these north faces — the Eiger, the Matterhorn, and the Grandes Jorasses – are much harder to climb, and are known as 'the Trilogy' (or the "north face trilogy").


  • The first to climb these three faces within a single year was the Austrian Leo Schlömmer, from the summer of 1961 to the summer of 1962.
  • With the introduction of the concept of enchainment, the next challenge was to climb all three faces in one outing, a race eventually won by Tomo Česen in 1986 at the age of 26, although nobody witnessed his feat;[3] after that Christophe Profit [fr], who achieved the feat between 11–12 March 1987 in a time of 24 hours.[3]
  • From December 2014 to March 2015, during a project known as "Starlight and Storms", Tom Ballard climbed these six north faces solo, being the first person to complete this feat in a single winter season without a support team.[4] A film chronicling this project, Tom, won several awards at international film festivals.[5][6]
  • On 15 August 2021, with his ascent of the Petit Dru in 1 hour 43 minutes, the Swiss climber Dani Arnold [de] completed a ten-year project to make the fastest solo speed climb of all six faces. He had previously set speed records on the other five faces, with Ueli Steck's 2015 solo of the Eiger north face the only current faster ascent (when Arnold climbed the Eiger north face in 2011 in two hours and 28 minutes it was the fastest at that date).[7]



  • Anker, Daniel (ed.) (2000) Eiger: The Vertical Arena. Seattle: The Mountaineers.
  • Bonatti, Walter (2001). The Mountains of My Life. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-375-75640-X.
  • Hargreaves, Alison (1995). A Hard Day's Summer: Six Classic North Faces Solo. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-60602-9
  • Rébuffat, Gaston (1999). Starlight and Storm: The Conquest of the Great North Faces of the Alps. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-375-75506-3
  • Destivelle, Catherine (2003). Ascensions, Arthaud (French) (ISBN 2-7003-9594-8)
  • Destivelle, Catherine (2015). Rock Queen, Hayloft Publishing Ltd (ISBN 978-1910237076)


  1. ^ Rébuffat, Gaston (1999). Starlight and Storm: The Conquest of the Great North Faces of the Alps. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-375-75506-3.
  2. ^ Destivelle, Catherine (2003). "L'Eiger en solitaire et en hiver". Ascensions. Arthaud. p. 181. ISBN 2-7003-9594-8.
  3. ^ a b Twight, Mark (2001). "My Way: A Short Talk with Tomo Cesen". Kiss Or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber. Mountaineering Books. p. 63-74. ISBN 978-0898867633. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  4. ^ Sawer, Patrick (26 February 2016). "Tom Ballard conquers the Alps 20 years after his mother's death on K2". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  5. ^ ""Tom": il film sull'alpinista Ballard conquista i film festival internazionali della montagna". 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ Elena Golatelli. Tom.
  7. ^ Clarke, Owen (29 September 2021). "Dani Arnold Completes Speed Solos of all Six Great North Faces of the Alps". Retrieved 2 October 2021.