Our 11 Favorite Quotes From The Eiger Sanction


It could be said that The Eiger Sanction is not a good movie – unless you’re a climber. Even if you are a climber, you probably know it’s not a great movie. It’s politically incorrect (even for its time), depicts some strange ideas about climbing, and has somewhat nonsensical dialogue.

But still. Clint Eastwood. The Eiger. Climbing. What other Hollywood representation do we have for climbing? Vertical Limit? K2?

The Eiger Sanction, even as a bad movie, is still one of the best-or maybe the best-climbing movies. It’s all we have, and we embrace it, with tongue firmly in cheek. Many a climber has quoted “we shall continue with style” just before busting out laughing, and more than a few have tried Ben Bowman’s sneak-your-beer-into-your-partner’s-pack trick.

Today, we celebrate the lessons we can all take from The Eiger Sanction, with some of our favorite quotes.

1. On the Badassness of the Eiger, Part I

Jemima Brown: Is this hotel always so crowded?

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: Only when there’s a climb. Then the Eiger birds start flocking in.

Jemima Brown: Eiger birds?

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: Yeah, jet setters, assorted zombies, come here to watch a climb. If they’re lucky, they get to see a man die on the mountain.

Jemima Brown: That’s grim.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: So’s the Eiger.

2. On the Badassness of the Eiger, Part II

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: I tried to climb it twice. It tried to kill me twice. If the target’s trying to climb the Eiger, chances are my work could be done for me.

3. On the Motivations of Climbers

Woman Journalist: Tell me, Mr. Bowman, in your opinion do these men climb to prove their manhood, or is it more a matter of compensating for inferiority feelings?

4. On Bailing

Karl Freytag: I consider it self-defeating to plan in terms of retreat.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: I consider it stupid not to.

5. On Not Bailing

Anderl Meier: You’re very good. I have really enjoyed climbing with you.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: We’ll make it.

Anderl Meier: I don’t think so. But we shall continue with style.

6. On Going Light and Fast

Ben Bowman, at the top of a climb: Wanna beer?

Jonathan Hemlock: You gonna call room service?

Ben Bowman: We got beer.

Jonathan Hemlock: If you hauled beer up this rock you’re insane!

Ben Bowman: I may be insane, but I’m not stupid. I didn’t carry it, you did! It’s in your pack.

7. On Optimal Conditions

Ben Bowman: It’s colder than a witch’s tit.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: This is climbing weather, Ben.

8. On the Whole Point of Climbing

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: What happened to the climbing school?

Ben Bowman: My guests are more interested in hunting than they are climbing.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: Thought the whole point of climbing was hunting.

9. On How Climbing Effects on Relationships

Jean-Paul Montaigne: Ask Anna. Every night for six months I perform two hours of exercise before bed.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: By now, she must be very anxious to see you climb the mountain.

10. On the Motivations of Climbers, Part II

Anna Montaigne: I wish Jean-Paul would change his mind. I can’t understand why he’s insisting on climbing this mountain.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: I can. He does it for you.

Montaigne: For me?

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: That’s right. He tries to keep you from younger men by staying young himself. By doing young mens’ things.

Montaigne: Poor thing.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: Yeah. Particularly since it hasn’t worked.

11. On the Whole Point of Climbing, Part II

Jean-Paul Montaigne: At 42, I shall be the oldest man to climb the Eiger.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock: What do you think about that, Madam? How do you feel about climbing?

Anna Montaigne: I consider mountain climbing the biggest nonsense.

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