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The White Spider: The Story Of The North Face Of The Eiger
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The White Spider: The Story Of The North Face Of The Eiger

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,726 ratings  ·  100 reviews
A classic of mountaineering literature, The White Spider tells the story of the harrowing first ascent of the Eiger's North Wall, one of the most legendary and terrifying climbs in recorded history.Heinrich Herrer, author of Seven Years in Tibet, was a member of the four-man party that scaled the previously untouchable North Wall of the Eiger in 1938. In The White Spider, ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published 1960 by Rupert Hart-Davis (first published 1959)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Raúl
La historia del alpinismo nos ofrece muchos relatos dramáticos, testimonios de accidentes mortales en torno a la consecución de rutas y de cimas, marcas que no significan nada para las personas ajenas al mundo de la montaña. Los dramas humanos conforman una crónica negra, no exenta en ocasiones de épica y sacrificio, aunque también de errores más o menos evitables. Frente a ello, es natural la indignación de tantas voces que hablan en nombre de esa cosa llamada ''sentido común'': ¿Merece la pena ...more
Raghu
I have admired Heinrich Harrer ever since I came across his book 'Seven Years in Tibet' many years ago. In 2010, I even visited his home village of Huettenberg in Austria and visited the Harrer Museum there. In the Museum, I found old newspaper clippings from 1938 showing that he was also one of the party of four which made the first successful ascent of the Eiger North face. Having seen the immense vertical wall of the Eiger North Face when I had hiked the Bernese Alps some years before, I want ...more
Corrina
Wow! Just re-read this. The last time I read it was probably 10 years ago, and I loved it then, but now that I've read much more on mountaineering and the Nordwand of the Eiger in particular, I loved it even more!! Harrer not only tells his own story of his group's first successful ascent of the Nordwand (or Mordwand, depending on your point of view), he traces the history of the mountain, recreating in careful detail the other successful attempts as well as the myriad disasters. Harrer of cours ...more
Hywel Owen
The best book on the realities of climbing that I have read. You will finish it maybe convinced of the insanity of mountaineering, but certainly with a better understanding of what it is to climb. Harrer is indisputably one of the all-time greats of mountaineering.
Cameron
This was my first mountaineering book and, as a mountaineer myself, I found this very well-written.

Due to the steepness of the Eiger, it gave me a whole new appreciation for helmets and the dangers presented to those who don't wear them.

I enjoyed the author's "psychological analysis" of the mountain, and how climbers related to the Eiger over the years.

The book ends with a bunch of more-recent accounts of climbs up the Eiger, which I chose to skip. The beginning ~70% of the book is short and swe
...more
Eric_W
While I have never understood the motivation of people who willingly place themselves in harm's way by doing all sorts of bizarre things like hanging from ropes above precipices
with rocks falling on their heads and winter blizzards forcing snow down their necks, I must admit they make fascinating reading.

The Eiger, a particularly nasty rock face, was not successfully climbed from the north until the author and his team succeeded (where many others had failed) in 1938. This astonishing book is th
...more
Michael
There seems to be a lot of cronyism among Harrer and his fellow German climbers: Every climber who dies was the brightest young German mind to have ever graced the valley from which he came, only to fall at the face of the great Eiger, while every success is a testament to certain indefatigable greatness in the eyes of mankind immemorial. He waits until the end of the novel to finally accuse an Italian of being the first to mistake his ambitions and strength are adequate for the climbing, though ...more
Travis
This book was very well written for the topic. If you can imagine, the story is about the piles of people that have tried to climb the 6,000 foot vertical face of rock and ice. Unfortunately some of them ended up at the bottom in a pile. It was riveting at times, and bit redundant at others. It was over 300 pages of reading the same routes up the face, and while it was incredible to imagine some of the attempts done without crampons or gore-tex, it also has a lot of "after these messages" effort ...more
Deepika
Great and comprehensive chronicle of mountaineering on Eiger. Tragedy, death, storm, avalanches, triumphs, mishaps all add to the poignancy of this book. I loved the first few chapters that dealt with the first ever attempt by Mehringer and Sedlmeyer, the gruesome account of Toni Kurz and his fellow climbers, and the breathtaking first successful ascent. Forever entrenched in my memory will be the Hinterstoisser episode.

The mountaineering parts are suspenseful, dark, chilling, profound, mysterio
...more
Matthew
I started reading this book before making a skiing trip to Wengen/Grindelwald, in the shadow of the Eiger's north face. I enjoyed the early chapters immensely and the stories of the Kurtz tragedy and Harrer's own ascent gave me a real sense of the history of the famous peak. The writing style is antiquated and the translation needs tightening a little, but this actually helps give you a good picture of the time. I had read no other material on the Eiger, which is an important factor; as a starti ...more
Paul
A very good mountaineering book by one of the men who made the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1938. Most of the book was written in 1958-1959, at a time when only a few additional successful ascents had been made (less than 10, I think), and it includes a detailed recounting of all attempts between 1934 and 1957, many of which were infamously unsuccessful.

Many of these young men were German and Austrian, but Hitler and World War II do not intrude much on Harrer's narrative -- he
...more
Teresa
After seeing the movie "North Face" last year (based on the failed and tragic attempt of Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser to be the first to summit the North Face of the Eiger in 1936), I wanted to read more about the mountain and its punishing history. This book was recommended and it did not let me down. Heinrich Harrer was in the first party to successfully summit Eiger (you may also recognize his name as man who spent Seven Years in Tibet after an interment in India-that book is next on ...more
Nick
One of the classics in mountain literature, this book recounts in great detail the first ascent of the Eiger, and places it in context with the infamous failures prior to that successful climb on 1938, as well as the successes and failures that were to follow in the years up to 1964. Harrer was one of the members of the successful party in '38 and tasked with compiling this history goes to great pains to research each of the stories. The book mainly suffers from a stylistic point of view - the w ...more
Ladislav Cicon
I like Harrer's style, book is really good writen. Although Harrer's story about Cladio Corti's Eiger attempt is "not precise". Harrer refused to clean Corti's name after founding of dead German climbers and was clear that Corti's story was true. And not sensationalistic story made after his rescue by press described in White spider as well.

To sum it up, really good read, but not precise facts.
Emily Cleaver
An interesting and at times very exciting read, which leaves you with a huge respect and awe for those mad enough to attempt to climb the North Face of the Eiger. But it rather drags in places whenever the author goes off on a long ramble about how athletic, brave, noble, selfless and uncomplicated each climber he mentions happens to be. Also, as this purports to be a history of climbing the North Face, rather than just the story of one climb, it ends up as a bit of a list in places as he summar ...more
Roaldeuller
I spent the summer of 1977 as an American college student hosteling my way across Europe. I bought this book in a small bookstore in Grindelwald, Switzerland and then proceeded to enjoy a blissful couple of days sitting on the front balcony of the youth hostel, reading The White Spider, with the north face of the Eiger towering overhead. I would read from the book, and then gaze up to identify the exact routes and landmarks described in the text, which were clearly visible on the massive wall of ...more
Forest
This is an amazing account of the first 13 ascents of the Eiger Nordwand. Further amazement at Harrer's experiences offers the most inspiration a climber's life could offer in text. The first successful completion of the Nordwand by Harrer, Fritz Kasperek, Ludwig Vörg, and Andreas Heckmair is documented excitingly in the book accompanied by many other exciting tales. I read the first translation and have several favorite quotes: "Yes, we had made and excursion into another world and we had come ...more
Peter
I was hoping this book would be more like "Touching the Void", in other words gripping and a running story. Unfortunately it turned out to be a chronology of all the attempts on the North Face. Some of these were indeed gripping but the whole book was too much of a list for my liking.
Rachel
It is clear that this book was written by a climber rather than a writer, but it is doubtless one of the most gripping books I have read. Each time that I had to put it away to go to work I felt that I was abandoning climbers on the precarious perches and ice faces of the Eiger.
Genevieve
Hmmmm, how would one describe Heinrich's style? Perhaps chivalric, or cavalier (in the sincerest sense, not meant cruelly), not exactly florid, perhaps a bit archaic? At times it is a bit tiresome to read, if only because he often seems to be justifying the facts and information he has included so as not to offend anyone. A very interesting read, nonetheless, and amazing when you truly consider the acts he is describing (I'll admit it, the pictures in the book and google searches helped my naive ...more
Terry Kearns
If you watched the Eiger Sanction just for the mountain, read this book. The final rescue scene through the station window is from an actual event that unfortunately ended tragically. The author, Heinrich Harrer, was played by Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet.
Diana180
More armchair mountaineering, with a similar theme to Krakauer's best work: Don't overestimate your skills. Unfolds chronologically and paratactically (Hemingwayan "... and ... and") rather than in Krakauer's literary form. The core of the book is the story of Harrer's first ascent of the north face of the Eiger, as well as other early successes and failures. This edition contains epilogues bringing the history of ascents into the '60s, amounting to almost as many pages as the original book. App ...more
Allyson Shaw
A quick read, though unsatisfying either due to Harrer's wooden and often hackneyed prose or the translation, maybe both. (What's with all the ellipses?) The book is weighted down with a bizarre defensiveness. What would be most interesting-- the texture of life on the mountain face-- is left out completely, replaced with logistic discussions which become repetitive. Though, I suppose in wanting the vicariousness of a sensory narrative I'm one of the "rubberneckers" he seems to have such disdain ...more
Caroline
Harrer writes beautiful, almost poetic (I read it in swedish). As a reader and "non-climber" you feel like you're getting a sense of what mountaneering is about. with stories of both success, friendship, strong bonds and tragic endings
Lynn
It is an interesting tale but so boringly written. Not sure whether the fault lies with Harrer or the translator but unless you are really into climbing I doubt you will get through it.
Mark Klink
While i'm really enjoying this book, I found the description of the 1957 ascent of the Germans Nothdurft and Mayer and Italians Corti and Longhi disturbing in how it suggested foul play. The book says the Germans were never found as of the time of writing, so i figured i'd search for more recent information and found the following...
In 1961, Nothdurft and Mayer bodies were finally found on the West Face - the normal Eiger route. They had summited, but had been killed by an avalanche during the d
...more
Vaibhav Gupta
A mountaineering classic from one of the greatest adventurers of all times about the first ascent of the eiger. The story of Tony Kurz drew me towards knowing more about this mountain that has claimed so many leaves and yet has challenged countless mountaineers to scale its North Face. Harrer beautifully brings to life the north face and the challenges that this beast of a mountain throws to these crazy breed of people called mountaineers. A book that has served as an inspiration to so many moun ...more
Stephen
I've read (and still own many of them) several dozen books on rock climbing and mountaineering. This is in my pantheon. It was first recommended to me by a classmate in high school. Although climbing has evolved a lot (I think I read that Alex Honnold soloed the Eiger Nordwand free in 2.5 hours, and I know others have done it maybe not quite so fast.) this is still a dramatic, exciting book of cameraderie and adventure. Translated from the German it reads easily.
Rem to self: someday must read Ha
...more
Evan
This was a great novel! Harrer's description of his climb was relatively brief, but exciting and captivating! I couldn't put the book down until I finished his account of the ascent of the Eiger. Even the summit and descent contained interesting nuggets of information. His accounts of all the other climbers were fascinating as well. By the time I reached his story, his description of previous attempts had instilled me with an appropriate amount of apprhension. Much of the narrative contains topi ...more
Russ Kennedy
Confession time; I didn't finish this. I know it's a classic and a masterpiece and I know that the accomplishments of the climbers featured are colossal and worthy of respect and admiration. I really wanted to like this book but just couldn't.

To me, the book read like a preemptive defence of climbing, as if written for a really critical judgmental audience. Not being such an audience I eventually found the tone jarring.

I couldn't get it into it and found it too easy to put down. Maybe hardcore c
...more
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Heinrich Harrer (6 de Julho de 1912 – 7 de Janeiro de 2006) foi um montanhista, investigador, geógrafo e escritor austríaco.
Heinrich Harrer nasceu em Hüttenberg na região de Caríntia. Entre 1933 e 1938 Harrer estudou geografia e desporto na Universidade Karl-Franzens em Graz.
Harrer fez parte da primeira equipe que escalou a face norte do Eiger na Suíça, junto com Anderl Heckmair, Fritz Kasparek e
...more
More about Heinrich Harrer...
Seven Years in Tibet Return to Tibet Beyond Seven Years in Tibet - My Life Before, During and After Lost Lhasa: Heinrich Harrer's Tibet Die letzten Paradiese der Menschheit. Abenteuerliche Reise zu vergessenen Völkern.

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