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Scale the Eiger at Space Museum

     The Hong Kong Space Museum's latest Omnimax show "The Alps", screening from tomorrow (August 1), will take audiences to scale the Eiger, a mountain in the Swiss Alps, with three climbers.  Not only will audiences experience the thrill of climbing, but they will also be able to appreciate the stunning scenery and learn about the culture of the region.

     The film features three climbers, John Harlin III, Robert Jasper and Daniela Jasper, scaling the Eiger.  John Harlin III is the son of John Harlin II, a mountaineering legend who, 40 years ago, lost his life scaling the north face of the Eiger.  Scaling the Eiger is therefore the most perilous and meaningful trial for John Harlin III.  For one thing, he would make climbing history; for another, he reconnects the climbing with the memory of his father.

     The two other climbers in the film, Robert Jasper and his wife, Daniela, are also renowned climbers.  Robert Jasper has assembled an impressive list of climbing accomplishments including ascents of the north face of the Eiger.  With 14 successful attempts on the Eiger to his credit, he is fondly known as Dr Eiger.  A renowned ice climber, Daniela has climbed the Eiger's north face three times.  She has many first ascents to her name and expeditions have led her to the Himalayas and all over the world.

     The world-famous Alps span more than 1,100 kilometres, lacing like a necklace from the southern tip of France to the Julian Alps of Slovenia, with Switzerland right in the centre.  The average height of the Swiss Alps is 1,700 metres.  The snow line begins at 2,500 metres.  The Alps consist of 48 mountains which are 4,000 metres or higher and about 1,800 glaciers.

     Over a long period, the Alps have been covered by snow.  The snowpack is made up of numerous layers held in place by millions of tiny bonds between the snow crystals.  When one stable layer becomes weak, the fragile joint will fail and produce an avalanche.  Once an avalanche takes shape, it is incredibly powerful.  Nothing can stop the full force of a big avalanche once it starts sliding.  Not only skiers are at risk; avalanches have also killed people in Alpine villages.  Scientists of a Swiss institute for avalanche research regularly probe the density of each layer to test the stability of the snowpack.  They may use explosives to trigger avalanches to get information, and put geophones in the sliding path to measure the pressure and speed of avalanches.  Collecting such data helps identify ways to prevent snow layers from sliding.

     The north face of the Eiger is considered the most treacherous climb in Europe with its dangerously exposed 1,830-metre vertical wall of jagged limestone made more perilous by the constant threat of falling boulders, avalanches and unpredictable weather patterns.  Scores of climbers have tempted fate on the Eiger's craggy slopes, and more than 50 have lost their lives on the mountain.

     The 45-minute Omnimax show, "The Alps", will be screened tomorrow until further notice with shows at 1.30pm, 5pm and 8.30pm daily at the museum's Stanley Ho Space Theatre.  The museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).  Tickets are available at the Space Museum box office and at all URBTIX outlets for $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls).  Full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities will receive a half-price concession.

     The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.  For further information, call 2721 0226 or visit the website at

Ends/Thursday, July 31, 2008

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