In the illustrious world of mountaineering, the six great north faces of the Alps (also commonly referred to as the six ‘classic north faces’) are infamous for their long and arduous nature, high objective hazards, and the inherent level of commitment they command.
Of the North faces, some you know, others you may not, each face is awe inspiring and unique. In the West is the largest, the Grand Jorasses, hidden in the valleys behind the famous ski resorts of Chamonix, France. It’s North face stretching over a kilometer wide at the base, reaching directly upwards for 1200 meters. Lying in juxtaposition just a valley away is the narrow, needle like pinnacle of the Petit Dru. Then there is the Eiger, its hulking North face imposing over the meadows of Grindelwald Valley in Switzerland. The Jungfraujoch, an alpine cog train, winding through its depths, taking hundreds of tourists a day to viewing platforms on its North face before depositing them off on the glaciated slopes above. Further East is the iconic Monte Cervino, better known as the Matterhorn. It straddles the Italian-Swiss border, standing alone above the ritzy ski resorts of Zermatt and more casual Breuil-Cervinia. Taking the Swiss -Italian border further East one reaches Piz Badile, fortified on all sides by daunting granite walls, hidden away in a region of the Alps forgotten by time. Finally we reach Cima Grande, standing on the opposite side of the Alps from where we started, the heart of the Italian Dolomites.
Attaining the first ascent of these six faces was a consuming obsession imagined by many climbers throughout the golden age of European mountaineering in the 1930’s, though not realized until the 1950’s when Gaston Rébuffat, a legendary French mountain guide and alpinist, was the first to climb all six of these north faces. It is Rébuffat who we are to thank for the ultimate alpine ticklist – the six great north faces of the Alps.
Follow us mere mortals as we attempt ‘The North Face Project‘, climbing these unforgiving classic north faces where many have tried but few have succeeded.