Neues Tiefenbach and Grauer Stein – two more sides of Allgäu Limestone

Neues Tiefenbach is another impressive crag hidden from view, this time above a picture-postcard chapel framed by distant Alps.

Just a few hundred metres from the van you can just about make out the glowering steepness of the nearest sector:Having finally set aside egos, and accepted that we’re operating around the VI to VII+ range (about 5c to 6b+ if you believe the conversions) there isn’t really much on offer (it’s mostly VIII to X), but it’s a 4* crag so we decided to see if the scraps were worth a look. Hinkelstein, 6-, was the obvious starting point: Der Absolute Klassiker und die einfachste Route am Fels! It takes the wide lightning-strike crack just left of me in the photo below – better than it looks and actually quite enjoyable with the benefit of bolt protection.Further left, Stargazer, 7, is a genuinely stellar route. Nominally split into 2 pitches it is best enjoyed as one 30m+ run out – just one tricky section around the 5m mark, then fun cruising on steep flakes and hidden jugs.Left again, Kleines Schiff, 7-, is the next offering at the right kind of grade, and has a logically-named extension: Grosses Schiff. I certainly put in a “Big Shift” and fought my way to within a heart-breaking throw for the final hold beneath the chain. I was a bit less disgruntled when I realised it was an 8 (OK, maybe it’s time for reading glasses!) Enthusiasm, energy and appropriate routes all exhausted themselves at about the same time, with the inevitable consequences:Grauer Stein is a much more friendly affair, with an entry point of 3s and 4s, but with some high quality long slab routes in the 6s and 7s. Again only a few minutes from the parking, but this one really takes some finding. You go through the wooden gate and immediately hop over a wire fence behind the bench to follow a trod, skirting the wood on its left. You carry on along the trod, through a field, passing a dilapidated shed in the woods, and pick up a path heading into the trees, which soon becomes a narrow constructed gangway which accesses the crag.Anyway, the main central wall reaches almost 40m. Rampenfuhrer, 6-, has a stiff start up a steep groove…… leading to a juggy finale (you can just about make Helen out on the finishing moves in the shot below):H3, 6+/7- is a tough counter-line that somewhat confusingly crosses it.

Over on the right, the rippled main slab (also in the photo above) gives excellent crimpy smearing with spaced protection. Spinnenris Variante, 7- and Directe Platte, 6+, were both very enjoyable (even though the criss-crossing lines are a bit contrived and confusing).

An added quirk to the day was chatting to a local and discovering that he’d spent a year in The Peak District many years ago, as a teaching assistant at Glossopdale – small world!

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