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From Bikes to Peaks: The Historic Quest of Bike2Eiger

SuuntoRide — 23 Mai 2024

Join Suunto ambassador Philipp Reiter and his friend Martin Schidlowski as they retrace a historic journey to the Eiger North Face in their film, Bike2Eiger.

Suunto ambassador Philipp Reiter invited his childhood friend and climber Martin Schidlowski on an adventure that combined history with the modern-day challenges of mountaineering. Riding 600 km from their home in Berchtesgadener Land, Germany, to Grindelwald, the base of the Eiger in Switzerland, and attempting to climb its notorious north face was merely the backdrop for something more meaningful and thought-provoking.

We caught up with Philipp to discuss his film, Bike2Eiger. The film has been touring mountain film festivals for the past winter and is now released online. Read on – and watch the film below!

Philipp Reiter and Martin Schidlowski are friends since childhood.
Philipp Reiter and Martin Schidlowski are friends since childhood.


You were following in the footsteps of some true Alpinist legends. Who were they and what was their story?

Anderl Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurz were two alpinists from the Berchtesgadener Land, where Martin and I also grew up. In the 1930s, they wanted to solve the last unclimbed problem of the Alps - the Eiger North Face. As they had no money to travel by train, they went from Bad Reichenhall to Grindelwald by bike. (Read more about them here.)

What is your connection with your adventure buddy Martin?

Martin Schidlowski is my kindergarten buddy. We have done many alpine adventures together, running, climbing, and mountaineering. Since the beginning, we have had the same mindset and passion for the mountains. He is a super good climber and alpinist, and I am more of the endurance athlete in our team.

Not the conditions the duo was hoping for.
Not the conditions the duo was hoping for. 


The adventure started with three long days in the saddle. How did that go?

Haha, not very well! 1.5 hours after we started, we were stuck and had to push the bikes through 30–40 cm of fresh snow. Generally, it was super cold, and we underestimated the weight of the bags. We carried in all our gear – alpinism by fair means. The first night, the police also kicked us out of our little wood cabin as in Austria sleeping somewhere out counts as illegal camping. 

Did you start to question why you didn’t simply drive to the mountain?

We wanted to experience the same as the two pioneers in the 1930s, which is why we also took the bikes.

Studying the route and the weather are part of any adventure.
Studying the route and the weather are part of any adventure.


Do you think Martin will ever again go on a bikepacking trip?

No, never! He had never ridden more than 100 km before, and on day one we had to do around 220 km! He did not like it.

And what about you…?

Well, generally, I like cycling a lot as to me it’s the perfect way to explore new areas at a decent speed. But on this ride, my leg warmers were too tight, and I got an inflammation around the knee, which was super painful.

First attempt on the Eiger: too much snow.
First attempt on the Eiger: too much snow.


The weather conditions and the amount of snow made the first Eiger attempt hard. Is there anything you could have done differently?

At one point, there were just too many people with busy schedules involved in the project, and we couldn’t keep shifting the dates all the time. So, we had only a few time slots planned, and basically, only this one was left. That’s why we started in okay conditions, knowing that it might become too tricky to climb the face. And then there was too much snow.

Mountaineering has a lot to do with conditions. Usually, you need to be patient and wait for the right conditions. It’s never a good idea to rush it in the mountains. 

Before the second attempt, the atmosphere was different. Can you explain a bit about what was happening?

When we came back one year later for the second try, we knew that the conditions were very good and that it was just a matter of us making it happen. Also, we didn’t do the bike approach again, which made it easier. When we went up to Eigergletscher to sleep, there was so much positive energy. I remember this situation well.

Second try, better conditions.
Second try, better conditions – but different route.


Could part of the mood be that you were so sure that with the right timing and team, you could just show up and finish the project?

Yes, exactly. It was almost like: We just need to climb it now, and that’s it!

Is it possible that the slower approach and early difficulties set you up differently?

Martin and I had done some more training together, like the Matterhorn North Face. We felt more ready than the first time and were more relaxed as we did not have heavy legs from three long days of riding.

Summit of the Eiger!
Summit of the Eiger!


Did the adventure teach you something?

Most of the time, things come out very differently than we have planned, and we always need to keep the capacity to adapt.


Watch now: Bike to Eiger

Watch now: Philipp Reiter and Martin Schidlowski follow the footsteps of their local mountaineering heroes from the 1930s on a multisport adventure to the "Eigernordwand“.