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The name has been linked to the Latin term acer, meaning "sharp" or "pointed", but more commonly to the German eigen, meaning "own".

The Eiger is located within the Bernese Oberland region of the canton of Bern, between the valleys and municipalities of Lauterbrunnen (west) and Grindelwald (east).

This huge face towers over the resort of Kleine Scheidegg at its base, on the homonymous pass connecting the two valleys.

The first ascent of the Eiger was made by Swiss guides Christian Almer and Peter Bohren and Irishman Charles Barrington, who climbed the west flank on August 11, 1858.

Since 1935, at least sixty-four climbers have died attempting the north face, earning it the German nickname Mordwand, literally "murder(ous) wall"—a pun on its correct title of Nordwand (North Wall).