Back on the road for climbing and cake!

The RockAroundTheWorld Trip-Planning Algorithm has been overhauled over the last few weeks, with rock quality and sunshine databases now supplemented with infection rate data and the latest quarantine regulations. We finally pressed the “compute” button over the weekend, and waited eagerly as dials whirled and valves clunked, before the ticker-tape spat out with the answer: “Head to Germany”. About 24 hrs later we were checking into Camping Eichler in the Frankenjura, our favourite stopover and watering hole in the centre of the country’s most famous climbing area.

A quick check of the blog archives revealed we’d last visited exactly 3 years ago – here’s the post from 9 September 2017

Nothing much has changed apart from instructions to wear a face mask in reception and the washroom; happily, rumours of there being no cake were wide of the mark – the full range of Martha’s famous Kuchen is available, but only for campers đŸ™‚

Having arrived to a toasty 25C at 7pm it was a disappointment to wake to drizzle the next morning. A couple of hours of crag-sussing filled time until it perked up, and by early afternoon we were strolling up to Haselstaudener Wande, just a mile or so west of the campsite.

The two volumes of the Frankenjura guidebooks each contain about 5000 routes scattered over about 400 limestone crags or Fels. These bear a passing similarity to Peak limestone, but much more like Brassington, Harborough and Celestial Twins than anything in Chee Dale or Stoney. Isolated buttresses, buried deep in woods or poking up above treetops on the crest of a ridge, and a full variety of walls, towers and pinnacles, with routes at every angle (though steepness abounds). Pockets are ubiquitous and bolt protection the general rule, but don’t expect to be clipping with the last bolt by your ankles – protection, especially on the easier and more established routes, tends to the sporting rather than sporty!

The bewildering number of crags, combined with the subtleties of the German descriptions beyond our combined linguistic abilities, means that we tend to rely on the number of starred routes as a filter. Even this isn’t full proof as the bar is set pretty high in the topos we have, with only about one in ten routes being star-worthy. Anyway, Haselstaudener Wande had half a dozen starred routes in the 6s and would be catching the afternoon sunshine once it appeared, so seemed a decent bet.

We duly worked our way through the lot of them: Rechts Aussen

… The arete of Prinzessin

… and perhaps the best of the bunch, the tall pillar of Weisser Pfeiler (after a bit of a rambling start).

Further along, the crag disappears into the trees and takes on a shadier countenance – welcome by now, as it’s getting a tad warm in the sun. For a final route we do Konrad Oed Ged Weg and are rewarded by one of the cute metal “book boxes” which feature in these parts so you can register your ascent.

All good fun and a useful reminder to pack a few wires (you’re typically looking at 3 or 4 bolts in 15m) and leave your ego at home (or at least ignore the UIAA – UK grade conversion charts, which suggested our afternoon’s efforts barely scratched E1). Noch ein Stuck Kuchen, anyone?

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