Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Frankenjura Germany, 05/26/2012 - 05/28/2012

At the end of May I had a business trip to Germany.  Now neither Amy or I had ever been to Europe before, so we decided that Amy would come and meet me on the last day of my business trip, then we'd stay in Germany for an additional week to check it out.  Of course we didn't go specifically for climbing, but I wasn't about to waste the oportunity to climb in Germany while there. 

My business trip took me to the town of Ulm which is about 2 hours south of the city of Nurnberg which is right in the middle of one of the best known climbing areas in Germany, The Frankenjura.  The Frankenjura is a limestone sport climbing area and is where the term "Redpoint" originated. In the mid 1970s a local Frankenjura climber, Kurt Albert, would literally paint a big red dot, or red point, at the base of each route that he lead freely.  We were able to see a few of his original "Red-points" on the rock where we climbed.  Apart from being where the term redpoint originated, the Frankenjura was also the home of Wolfgang Gullich who did the worlds first 5.14d, Action Direct, also located in the Frankenjura.

After I finished up with work on Thursday the 24 of May, we spent the night at the hotel where my conference was, then we checked out some of the local attractions in the town of Ulm the following day. After seeing the town of Ulm, we made the 2 hour drive north to the Frankenjura.

We arived Friday afternoon at Gasthof Eichler which is the center of the climbing world in the Frankenjura.  We didn't bring a tent with us, so we were hoping to get a room in the Gasthof (Guest House).  We met Frau Walter and asked for a room, but she was all full, so she called her son who had another Gasthof accross the street and got us a room there.  We headed across the street, unpacked our stuff, and wandered around the countryside a little bit before heading off to bed.

Sign at the base of Richard Wagner Fels

The following morning we grabbed our gear and headed up the road to a climbing area right on the side of the road called "Richard Wagner Fels".  I don't know what it is with Germany, but for some reason they all seem to be in love with Richard Wagner who was an opera writer.  Everywhere we went we heard about Richard Wagner. Well anyway, the rock was named after him because from one side the rock suposedly looks like his profile.

Path from the road to the cliff

Since we were new to the area we wanted to start on something easy to get a taste for the rock, so we started on a 5.8 called "Adolf Gottner Ged. - Weg".  Unfortunately it wasn't the best choice as an introduction to climbing in the Frankenjura as the rock was crumbly and rotten, and the climbing just wasn't that good.  The route started up a crack system past two bolts and a mankey fixed pin before traversing right past another bolt to a single bolt anchor.  When I got to the last bolt, not realizing I was in Europe, I spent a bit of time searching for where the route went after that.  I looked around for a while and concluded that there weren't any more bolts, so I would have to either top-out and belay Amy from the top (it was over half a rope length to the top and I had nothing to build an anchor with), or I could just use the highest bolt as a one bolt anchor.  We decided to take the second option for obvious reasons, but due to the traversing nature of the route I decided that it would be easier to belay from the top of the route rather than the ground, plus that way I could use the top two bolts as an anchor rather than just the top one.   I belayed Amy up, lowered her off, then rapped off the single top bolt.

Adolf Gotner Ged. - Weg follows the crumbly crack system

After that lovely route, we decided to walk around the corner to where the guidebook showed some higher quality routes. Next up was a 5.10a called "Kleine Westwand".  This route worked its way through a wierd pod/cave thing  and ended up being of much better quality than the first route.  I went up and got the onsight, but as I reached the obvious top of the route there was only one lone bolt, I also noticed from that vantage point that the route next to me ended with only one bolt as well and then it dawned on me that in the Frankenjura they don't have two bolt anchors.  I had already known this from conversations I had had with Jim Titt who does a lot of bolting in the Frankenjura, but somehow I had forgotten this fact.  Luckily, the majority of the bolts in the Frankenjura are bomber glue-ins which is great for strength and safety, bit it does make it difficult to identify the top of a route since you can lower directly off a glue in and no chain is necessary.  Well anyway, I felt a little bit foolish for not realizing this earlier, I lowered off the route and belayed Amy up as she TR'd it.

Kleine Westwand - 5.10a



Next up we decided to do the route just left of Kleine Westwand, a 5.11b called "Rheingold".  I started up the route and made it to the second bolt without any dificulties, but the crux ended up being between the second and third bolt.  I worked the moves for a while, taking several falls as I worked the moves.  The crux was slightly overhanging with nothing but slick, blank limestone for your feet, and small crimps for the hands. Eventually I figured out the sequence and finished the route, but I had worn myself out in the process.  I lowered off and Amy tried to TR the route but eventually had to just pull herself through the crux because she couldn't do the moves.  We decided it was time for lunch so we headed back to our gasthof.

Reingold - 5.11b


After lunch we decided that we should find an area with quality easy routes since I was worn out after my attempts at Rheingold.  Looking through the guidebook we determined that an area called Grune Holle fit that bill so we headed there.

Sign at the base of Grune Holle

Let me just say that Grune Holle was an amazing area.  To get there it was about a 10 minute hike through the most beautiful green forest.  The area felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, and it's interesting because it is just a big rock in the forest, it's not like on the side of a mountain or hill or anything. The area has two distinct sections, a lower wall that is steep and hard, and an upper wall where all the easy stuff is.  We arived at the wall, saw the local hardmen on the lower wall, and promptly walked around to the upper wall.

Amy on the hike to Grune Holle

Once we got to the upper wall, we started by climbing a 5.10b called "Die Fette Elke".  The rock here was crazy pocketed, the only problem was that most of the pockets weren't any good.  It made climbing very difficult because you had to feel around through all the different pockets to figure out which ones were good.  I ended up falling off the route a couple of times because I had such a hard time reading the rock. Amy TR'd the route and also had a hard time reading the rock, but it was still a cool climb.

Die Fette Elke - 5.10b


Next up we climbed a 5.10a called "Dr. J."  The route was similar to Die Fette Elke, but it was just vertical instead of a few degrees overhung which meant that I could hang out and feel all the holds without getting pumped so badly.  I got the onsight on that route, and once again, Amy ran up it on TR.

Amy and I at the base of Dr. J. - 5.10a

As we were both feeling pretty drained at this point we decided to do a few really easy routes before calling it a day. We decided that a 5.6 called "Zweisplat" was just what we needed.  I ran up the route without any problems and tried to get Amy to lead it, but she didn't want to try since she was having such a hard time on the very pocketed rock.

Zweisplat - 5.6


After Zweisplat we climbed a 5.7 called "Kummen Getummel".  More of the same good stuff, I got the onsight and Amy TR'd it after refusing to try leading.

Kummen Getummal - 5.7


Our final climb of the day was a 5.6 called "Das Weiss Der Geier".  Again it was easy pocket pulling up the highly pocketed rock, and again, I got the onsight and Amy TR'd the route.

We decided we had had enough climbing for the day, and we needed to do some shopping so we headed into Nurnberg to get the things that we needed.  After getting back from shopping we wandered around and checked out some other climbing areas, we also hiked up and checked out the castle ruins that were located behind our gasthof.

Playing around at Wolfsberger Grotte

The next day we took the day off from climbing and once again headed into Nurnberg to do some sightseeing there.  If you want to see what we saw and did there you'll have to check out Amy's blog at

On Monday, we were planning on heading to the town of Regansberg, but we wanted to get some more climbing in before we headed out, so we hiked over to an area called "Wolfsberger Grotte".  This area was right across the street from our gasthof, but it was a few hundred feet into the forest which made it seem like you were far away from anything else.  The wall consisted of a cave with harder routes inside of it, and easier routes on the edges.  We just climbed the routes on the edges of the cave.

Our first route at Wolfsberger Grotte was a 5.9 called "Gell Nancy".  The route was kind of dirty and wasn't the best that I've climbed, but it worked well as a warm up.  I onsighted the route and was amazed when I reached a two bolt anchor with chains.  I decided that this route must have been bolted by someone from the US.  Another odd thing about the route was that the bolts were standard wedge bolts instead of the typical Buhler glue-ins that we had seen everywhere else in the Frankenjura.  Agan, Amy wasn't interested in leading the route so she TR'd it.

Gel Nancy - 5.9


Next up we climbed the route just to the right of Gell Nancy, a 5.10a called "Superhussy".  Again the route must have been bolted by someone from the US because the bolts were all standard wedge bolts, and it shared the anchors with Gell Nancy.  Superhussy was much cleaner than Gell Nancy, and the moves were more varied and fun.  I once again got the onsight and Amy once again TR'd the route.

A couple of days earlier on Saturday evening we had hiked over to Wolfsberger Grotte to check it out, and while there I had bouldered around a bit on the bottom of the right-most route on the wall.  Amy thought some of the moves looked fun, but didn't want to try them without a rope, so we decided to make it our third climb.   The route was a 5.10d called "Tropisches Gewiter" and followed good big pockets with long reaches between them out the right side of the cave.  The route was tons of fun, probably my favorite of our trip.  Once again I got the onsight and Amy TR'd the route.

Tropisches Gewiter - 5.10d




We were starting to get a bit tired (since I have absolutely no endurance), and Amy was wanting to leave so that we could do more tourist stuff, but I wanted to do at least one more route, so we decided to jump on the 5.10d heading out the left side of the cave, a route called "Bambus".  Again the route was tons of fun, and had some very interesting moves through the lower cave section before exiting onto the vertical face above.  This time I made it through the crux without any problems, but my arms were to tired to go on so I had to blow the onsight with a take. After I rested a bit I finished the route, Amy tried the first few moves on TR, but was too tired, so we packed up and headed out to Regansberg.

Bambus - 5.10d



We didn't get to do a ton of climbing on our trip to Germany, but it was still an awesome trip.  The climbing we did do was very fun, and much different than the climbing that we usually do here in SoCal, and we got to see a ton of new and interesting things as we toured the cities.  Check out Amy's blog for more of our tourist stuff.        

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