Berdorf – not the red sandstone we were expecting to be climbing on, but not a bad substitute

Regular readers will know that one of my favourite expressions is “Green lights all the way!” and I count myself both a very fortunate and often lucky person. However, our planned trip to the southwestern USA was a case of RED lights all the way 😦

Things started to go wrong with Helen taking an unfortunate tumble down the stairs whilst visiting friends, when I was “safely” climbing El Cap (how ironic). She ended up with a lot of bruising and a couple of broken ribs, which led us to ditch our planned US trip, at least for this year.

Instead, we’ve got the van packed and we’re off to the south of France, which is how we find ourselves breaking the journey at Berdorf in Luxembourg. This is a great spot, and I can’t quite work out how we haven’t been before (well, apart from a passing recce almost 20 years ago). There used to be an issue with getting permits (in advance, for a limited time and only via post!) which discouraged the chance drop-in, but now all you need is a BMC membership card (and there’s no sign of anyone checking).

The rock is highly featured sandstone in a delightful wooded ravine – not the splitter cracks and parched desert of Moab, but really fun climbing nonetheless (much more reminiscent of Red River Gorge than Red Rocks). In more good news, it’s a 10 minutes walk from an excellent campsite and there’s a friendly if quirky bar on the way back for post-climb beer and grub. What’s not to like?

We arrived in time for a couple of routes, having driven down from the morning Rotterdam ferry, and Helen was really chuffed to get a couple of routes done – her first since her accident. A Severe-ish groove – Pilier Familial, and Coin, a VS-ish scoopy corner – all very gritstonesque.

Back for more the next day, and the place is buzzing. It’s the annual crag clean up and they’re taking it pretty seriously. They’ve banged in about 30 wooden steps and an elevated walkway down the descent gully, and people are rapping routes with brushes and water to clean off the excess chalk! I’m given a brush (“a present”) and asked to clean any routes we do.

Helen is cranking through the grades, managing a couple of HVSish routes: Paul Bessiyre and Sassenrish

Meanwhile, I’d been struck by the awesome Arête featured on the climbing poster in the very posh toilet block at the campsite

This turns out to be Luftikus, a bit less fearsome than the picture suggests, with the steepness a little exaggerated and offset by bucket holds – certainly good value for 6b with a goey move at the top, and highly recommended.

… as is Spigolo Giallo, 6a+ with a large pinch of salt, which takes an impressive Arête with some wild and blind moves to finish (especially now I’ve cleaned off the tick marks!)

2 responses to “Berdorf – not the red sandstone we were expecting to be climbing on, but not a bad substitute

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