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Scale the Eiger at Space Museum

     The Hong Kong Space Museum’s latest Omnimax Show “The Alps”, screening from now to November 3, takes audiences to scale the Eiger, a mountain in the Alps in Switzerland, with three climbers. Not only will audiences experience the thrill of the climb, but will also appreciate the fascinating scenery and learn the culture in the region.

     The film features climbers John Harlin III and Robert and Daniela Jasper, scaling the Eiger. John Harlin III is the son of John Harlin II who was a mountaineering legend.  Forty years ago, John Harlin II lost his life while scaling the north face of the Eiger. Thus, scaling the Eiger is the most perilous but a meaningful trial for John Harlin III. For one thing, he would make climbing history; for another, he reconnects the climb with the memory of his late 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 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 snow line of the Alps begins at 2,500 metres. The Alps consist of 48 mountains each with a height of 4,000 metres or above and about 1,800 glaciers.

     Over a long period of time, the Alps have been covered by snow. The snow pack is made up of numerous layers held in place by millions of tiny little bonds between the snow crystals. When one stable layer becomes weak, the fragile joint will later 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 gets sliding. It is not just skiers who are at risk. Avalanches did kill some people in villages of the Alps in the past. 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 pressure and speed of avalanches. Collecting relevant data helps identify ways to prevent snow layers from sliding.

     The north face of 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”, is screened 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 at $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/Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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