The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer

The White Spider - Heinrich Harrer
The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer

A slow start – impenetrable style – but the going got easier as this account of attempts to climb the North Face of the Eiger progressed year by year.

Heinrich Harrer, of Seven Years In Tibet fame, was in the group of climbers who made the first successful ascent, in 1938.

Recalling my Urus ascent during 2015’s Cordillera Blanca Traverse, these words on page 83 resonated:

“Those hours between night and day are always a keen challenge to one’s courage. One’s body goes mechanically through the correct movements essential to gaining height; but the spirit is not yet awake nor full of the joy of climbing, the heart is shrouded in a cloak of doubt and diffidence….

They have to reconcile themselves with their own shortcomings and with constraining feelings; they have to subject themselves to the willpower already geared to the enterprise in hand. And so the first hour, the hour of the grey, shapeless, colourless dusk before dawn, is an hour of silence.”

First light, Urus ascent, Cordillera Blanca Traverse, Peru 2015
First light, Urus ascent, Cordillera Blanca Traverse, Peru 2015

Publisher page: The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer (translated by Hugh Merrick)

Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer

I long thought I ought to read Heinrich Harrer‘s account of the time he and fellow Austrian POW Peter Aufschnaiter spent in Tibet, and almost a year after getting a copy from TJBR for Christmas I’ve finally done so. A fascinating read, not just for his descriptions of life in Lhasa prior to Chinese occupation and his friendship with the 14th Dalai Lama, but almost more for the earlier section describing their slow journey into and across Tibet penniless and without the proper permits.

I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the film in the TV schedules now….

Publisher’s page: Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer