60 Minutes Captures Harrowing Descent of The Eiger

The Eiger is Switzerland is one of the most daunting mountain peaks in the world. At the top there is only enough space for about three ping-pong tables. But nobody is planning on a game of table tennis.

The plan is to descend The Eiger in one of the most creative ways possible and a first of its kind.

The CBS news program 60 Minutes recently captured the action as J.T. Holmes, an extreme sport daredevil, and cameraman Valentin Delluc used a combination of skiing, hang-gliding and BASE jumping to get to the bottom of this 13,000-foot peak in a matter of minutes.

Holmes was battling demons in a way.  While skiing with friend Eiliv Ruudin Norway attempting a similar BASE jump on skis, Rudin failed to release his skis in time, which sent him into a cliff face killing him. 

Journalist Anderson Cooper asked Holmes before the stunt what’s the danger if he doesn’t get the skis off.

“You’re at risk of an unstable parachute deployment or a snag,” he told Cooper. 

Holmes waited weeks for an opening in the weather until one day when he and the crew were finally carried to the precipice for their ultimate descent. Not wasting any time, the two set off.

The propel themselves over otherwise impossible terrain to ski by deploying a small parachute that acts like a glider. In this way, the pair soar over rock ledges, avoiding large sections of impassable ground. The sport is called speedriding.

Read our story featuring another speedrider and Red Bull wing suit diver Andy Farrington, who has helped pioneer the sport. 

After speedriding down The Eiger, Holmes released the parachute and launched head first over a cliff. From here he released the skis and pulled a parachute, landing safely to the ground. 

But once wasn’t enough for this maverick stuntman. Soon, he and his camera man were back on the top for another run like two kids going down a water slide for a second time. This descent, however, had a brief slip up as Holmes almost didn’t get his second ski released. Watch the segment to see for yourself this heart-stopping action. 

Photo credit: CBS News