The forbidden, formidable north wall of the Eiger Mountain in the Bernese Alps, while it was first successfully climbed in 1938, has remained a supreme challenge to the most seasoned climber and in 1957 two teams of two Germans and two Italians again made the attempt with devastating results. while Corti, the only survivor, was perhaps talented- all were seemingly uninformed and ill-prepared, certainly for the wind and weather conditions which were to defeat them and make their rescue so difficult. Corti's partner, Longhi, was the first to entertain misgivings and was soon worn out, suffering frostbite as well; the Germans lost their food and were sustained chiefly by an innate, irrational mystique. Rescue crews were quickly organized, but only Corti, who ""looked like a live corpse"", was salvaged; his partner had been left lower down- to die, and the bodies of the other two ropemates were only found months later. In the avalanche of blame, resentment (against the guides as well as Corti) to follow, no true judgement could be reached although Olsen, a Sports Illustrated staff writer, does absolve Corti after a final interview... The folly and the fascination of ""vertical Russian roulette"", the courage compounded with stupidity, the doubts and recriminations which lingered on long after this disastrous ascent, all intensify the drama of this attempt and revive the furor it occasioned at the time. It will keep its readers on the ropes.