Following on from Rebecca and Mina’s visit to the Lakes earlier this year, the kats made a return trip to Germany this September…
The plans had been well made; we had booked our £5 each way Ryan Air flights (although the baggage cost £20 each way – how does that work, the bags costing four times more than the people to fly from Manchester to Frankfurt-Hahn?), and Rebecca had reserved us some awesome accommodation at Bärenbrunnerhof, the centre of Pfalz rock climbing. Bärenbrunnerhof isn’t quite like Llanberis or Ambleside though – there are only limited facilities – a cafe, a good restaurant, a food shop (that isn’t open that often), an excellent (but expensive) climbing gear shop, a basic camp site, and our nice apartments. Oh, and three excellent crags all within 5 minutes walk! 😛
The rock in the Pfalz is super weathered red sandstone. The weathering of these exposed sandstone towers rising high up out of the dense surrounding forest creates all kinds of pockets, features and weird shapes. But mostly, from a climber’s point-of-view, lots of rounded sloping holds and flared rounded cracks! 😮 Not to mention quite a bit of loose sand on the holds! 😯
It rained on our third day in Germany. It seemed that despite our best made plans, we couldn’t stop it being overcast in Germany while back home in the Lakes it was perhaps some of the best climbing weather of the summer. Typical, we’d endured a long wet summer in England and just as we go to supposedly hot-and-sunny southern Germany, the tables are turned! Doh.
Ah well, it did give us a great day discovering some cultural delights of the Pfalz region. These included a trip to a wine festival in a beautiful village where we enjoyed new wine (neuer wein) and a super tasty flammkuchen each. The neuer wein in particular is really wicked (great) stuff! Sweet and still fermenting, intoxicating! In my case it went down all too easily and I was soon giggling like a mad man (i.e. drunkerd)! 😈
We also visited one of the many castles in the region, Trifels castle. An interesting place, and great value (just €5 each) compared to silly expensive UK offerings.
The following day the rain had gone away and we headed out after a late start to Büttelfels (obviously to give everything a chance to be dry out after the rain, not to get over any heavy-heads from drinking too much neuer wein the day before 😉 ).
Just twenty minutes away and over the border in France, but still part of the Pfalz region, the rock is the same – but the ethics for protection are very different. Here you find typical French style bolting – a solid resined in staple every 1.5 metres. 🙂 Whereas the German Pfalz crags do have a few bolts, the ethic is far more traditional. Where there is a crack or other feature that allows hand placed traditional protection (e.g. a pocket that accepts a good cam), that is the standard approach. Plus, the few bolts that are there are normally extremely old and rusty (but solid) looking large metal rings; perhaps more like what you’d expect to see through a large bull’s nose somewhere in Spain…
It was good to visit the French side though – a bit of a change, and a chance to follow the climbing with a visit to a nice country restaurant.
Our last day in the Pfalz saw us at the largest (height and number of routes) crag in the region, Asselstein. We’d planned to come here on the day it rained, so you’ll see the Trifels Castle in the background of many of the pictures! 😛
:star: With amazing foresight and a deep understanding of the kats climbing and eating habits, Rebecca brought bags (and I do mean plural) of cakes to the crag. She even carried (stuffed in a large camera case) a pile of cakes up one of the routes so that we could all enjoy a cake-picnic on top of the crag! :yum: 😛 :yum: Later we had cakes with stupidly strong coffee at the Kletterer-Hütte (climbing hut), cakes at the base of the crag, and more cakes at the second crag of the day, Münzfels, a little nearer the castle. Altogether the number of cakes consumed on this single day was mind boggling! :yum: Well done for bringing them along Rebecca!
Our final day of German cragging was at the beautiful location of Battert near Baden Baden. Really different rock from the Pfalz, and lot more like the stuff we are more used to, being far more solid and clean with good cracks for solid small wires and lots of positive edges.
We started our Battert climbing experience with a topical and brilliant route, Freundschaft (Friendship), so we renamed the route for the day to “German, English (or in my case Australian) Friendship“! 😀
After climbing at Battert we returned to Karlsruhe, where Rebecca and Mina live, to enjoy a night out drinking German beer and eating traditional food. :yum:
Summing up the trip to Germany; the Pfalz, Battert, and Karlsruhe… Destinations that are far from the minds of almost every UK based rock climber I know – most haven’t even heard of them. Perhaps the Pfalz isn’t a world class climbing destination like the Peak District, the Lakes, North Wales or Yosemite, and perhaps it’s unique sandstone climbing style is an acquired taste, who knows. But what is certain is that we had a brilliant time visiting our friends on their home turf!!! 😛
Lets just hope that following on from the South African international climbing meet where I first met Rebecca and Mina, and now that we’ve sampled each others ‘back-yards’ (the Lakes and the Pfalz respectively) we can rendezvous somewhere else in the world in the near future? Chamonix was mentioned…