(by Barbara Gunther, from IMC Newsletter Autumn 2004)
Planning your climbing holiday leaves you with a sometimes confusing struggle of making the “right” choice. Spain, France, Croatia? Or maybe Sardinia or Greece? But hardly somebody thinks of Germany, though in the middle of Europe there is a relatively unknown treasure waiting to be discovered – the Frankenjura.
Situated just Northeast of Nuremberg, Bamberg and Erlangen lies the Frankenjura otherwise known as Fränkischen Schweiz – the biggest and most attractive climbing area in Germany.
This heavily-forested region, abounding with rolling hills and valleys, and brooks often running past the base of the crags, is the home of more than 400 limestone cliffs. The diversity of the crags offers a position and style to suit climbers of different levels whatever the weather. Some places are clustered together with 50 routes a piece whilst others might have a solitary route in the middle of the forest.
Plenty of well-bolted sport climbing routes on steep pocketed limestone will leave you just with the hard choice of what to climb next. The routes average 10 to 18 metres, but you will also find a few 30 and 40 metre cliffs. Limestone with good friction is the only rock in the area although texture and style can vary from place to place.
The majority of the better-quality routes and bouldering are found in the higher grades starting with UIAA grade 7 (French 6b) up to grade 11 (French 9a). A few Friends and Wires on some of the routes may give the climbing between the bolts a feeling less sporting.
From easy-angled slabs to intimidating overhanging roofs there should be something for everyone whatever grade you might be climbing – as long as you like pulling on pockets.
Climbing in the Frankenjura has a long tradition. It mainly started in the 1920s. Till the 70s the climbers mixed free climbing and technical climbing, but finally favoured free climbing.
Kurt Alberts’ redpoint climbing has its roots in the Frankenjura and in the 1980s Wolfgang Güllich dominated the climbing scene. He put up the 1st route with UIAA grade 10 (Kaum Zeit zum Atmen, 10-, 1984 at the Luisenwand) and with UIAA grade 11 (Action Directe, 11-, 1991, located at the Waldkopf).
The nearest airports are Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart. The area is very remote and due to the complexity of all the backroads and small villages using public transport would be difficult. Hiring a car is highly recommended.
Where to stay
Climbers will find convenient campsites in different part of the area. There are also several huts available on a first-come-first-served basis, which can alternatively be booked in advance. They are offering a basic, but comfortable accommodation other than camping. You also have the possibility to stay in one of many B & B’s or small hotels.
When to go
The climbing season starts in April and ends in October. July and August can get rather hot, but due to the wooden area you are less likely to get roasted and sunburned as in Spain.
Topoführer Frankenjura by Bernhard Thum is the latest guide to the whole area. Alternatively Kletterführer Frankenjura Band 1 & 2 will provide you with all the information you need.
… and …
Prices in the Frankenjura are reasonable – even for German standards. Besides climbing there are a lot of other things you can do like canoeing, cycling, walking, summer-bob-sleigh riding, caving, and swimming. It is ideal for families and groups of climbers.
…and don’t forget all the cakes, coffee, beers and Schnitzel you can enjoy in the numerous Beergardens of the area!