Roger Schäli knows the Eiger north face like the back of his hand. Numerous first ascents in the monumental wall in the Bernese Oberland go to his account. His most recent act broke the multi-pitched tour Airplane Mode (~8a +). We talked to Roger Schäli about his first ascent.

When did you first look at the line and when did you start setting up?
I have seen the area in the Eiger north face a long time ago and always thought it would be great to set up a route there. I just was not sure if it was, or at least for me, climbable. In 2017, I started setting up the route from the bottom up and finished 2018.

The route Airplane Mode in the most famous north face of the world (picture Robert Bösch)
The Route Airplane Mode: What a line. (Picture Robert Bösch)

 

Who supported you?
With me in the wall was the up-and-coming talent Dimitri Vogt, Bernd Rathmayr as well as Mayan Smith-Gobat.

How would you describe / characterize the route (difficulty, character, protection, etc)?
Airplane Mode is the next level to the Eiger Route Deep Blue Sea, which runs to the left of Airplane Mode. It is characterized by a good mix between forced and self-secured positions. In the first pitch, which is still relatively easy with 6b + / 6c, there are only two bolts at 50 meters. You get used to the craft straight away. I think Airplane Mode could become a classic as it is relatively easy to get to and because of its difficulty and the mix of bolts and trad climbing it will attract strong and ambitious people. After the easy first pitch you continue with a 7a, followed by two 7c's and a 7c + with a difficult single pull. Then comes the key rope length (8a +), which runs over a steep overhang and follows in a challenging crack.

In Airplane Mode you often have to secure yourself. (Picture Robert Bösch)
In Airplane Mode you often have to secure yourself. (Picture Robert Bösch)

 

Why did not work with the red point walk, what was the crux?
When are you going back?
I failed at the key length (6. SL). Until then, the forearms are not as fresh as one would wish. In the overhang comes a heavy shoulder move, a placement of a cams, then two bars and then the mentioned crack. But I'm optimistic that it will work with the redpoint walk soon. Although soon relative. The season at the Eiger is now over. In the spring I will return and give everything.

Is there a topo that we can already publish or a picture of the Eiger north face with the route?
I'll redip the route first before releasing it. Of course, after that I publish a topo. Airplane Mode runs to the right of Deep Blue Sea and runs along the edge.

Thank you for the interview, Roger!

Via the climbing route Airplane Mode

Name: Airplane Fashion
Location: Eiger north face, Switzerland
pitches: 1. SL 6b + / 6c, 2. SL 7a, 3. SL 7c, 4. SL 7c, 5. SL 7c +, 6. SL 8a +, 7. SL 7c, 8. SL 5 +, a total of 300 meters

 

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Credits: Cover picture Robert Bösch

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