Roter Fels – 40m Frankenjura Fun

Frankenjura climbing is renowned for its profusion (almost a thousand crags), steepness (neck-aching) and pockets (Swiss cheese!) but not generally its height. For the most part, the Fels here tend towards the stumpy – even Action Direct, the World’s first 9a, is only 15m high. Roter Fels is a very welcome exception, with routes to 40m (the height of Plumb Buttress at Stoney if not quite a full High Tor). Being immediately next to the road, and not shrouded in a forest somewhere, it’s also one of the most imposing.

The two tallest walls are split by a somewhat vegetated groove line. The wall on the left is plumb vertical and home to the outstanding Schaumschlager (you can just about make out a climber contemplating the half-height crux pull over an overlap) whereas the bulging right wall hosts a string of stunning 8s and 9s. Here’s a closeup of a couple of climbers battling through the upper bulge with almost 40m of fatigue already in their arms.

We worked our way through the three routes on the left wall. Dolomitweg, 6, looks a little scrappy from below, and the profusion of tatty slings and ancient pegs don’t inspire total confidence, but it turns out to be an excellent route – the best I’d done in the Frankenjura until we stepped right for Schaumschlager, 7-, which is even better!

More sustained and given 7- (sounds impressive but only translates to 6a+ – I think 6b/+ would be fairer); there’s a halfway crux (mentioned above)

then a tough pull to an intermediate lower-off and a final bulging roof (optional?) which is truly taxing with jaded muscles. The rightmost route, Fruhlingsweg, 6+, is also very good but not quite so sustained and shares the top few bolts. Talking of bolts, these routes do feel a bit more like conventional sports climbing, though with a dozen bolts in almost 40m they’re hardly over-equipped!

The interest continues on further sectors on the right. Here’s Helen on Softmover

and we also did another 7-, Harter Hund, reminiscent of Majolica at Beeston.

… Rounded off by another exploration of the local Biergarten.

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