Frenchwoman Climbs Eiger's North Face Alone

From Associated Press

A 32-year-old woman who practiced for her solo climb up the Eiger's forbidding North Face by hanging from beams in her Paris apartment was hailed Wednesday as a national heroine.

Catherine Destivelle became the first woman to make the ascent alone up what Baedecker's guide to Switzerland calls "the most dangerous mountain wall in the Alps."

The feat made newspaper front pages on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Edith Cresson sent a congratulatory telegram. France's youth and sports minister, Frederique Bredin, lauded the ascent as "the most prestigious feat by a woman" in the history of mountain climbing.

The climb through ice, snow and freezing temperatures on Monday to the 13,024-foot summit took 16 1/2 hours. Part of the two way, Destivelle climbed in the dark.

"It was long and it was difficult, but I expected this, and everything went exactly as planned," Destivelle said after climbing down on Tuesday.

The North Face is a sheer wall of limestone that has been dubbed "the ogre" by climbers.

More than 700 climbers have reached the peak; 50 have died trying.

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