Unlike many of the other climbing areas we’ve visited in Southern Germany, the crags are pretty obvious in Donautal (or the Danube Valley) – there are major High Tor sized walls of gleaming white limestone everywhere you look! There are 35 crags described in the local guidebook, spread out along both banks of the river (though you’d hardly suspect that this modest waterway becomes the mighty Danube), around an hour south of Stutgart and just north of the Swiss border.

Our first venture was on Stuhfels, a multi-faceted 100m tower above the village of Neidingen, which is also home to the climbers’ campsite.

We did the 3-pitch Der Letzte Mohikaner

and were rewarded with a fine summit experience.

… from which we spotted another series of impressive crags to the East.

We checked these out the following day – they turned out to be Schaufels and Traumfels. The former looked mega but a bit foreboding in the morning mist and dampness

… and anyway, Traumfels means Dream Crag – seemed rude not to check it out. This proved trickier to do than we planned, as it’s at a higher level and the recommended access is from above. Approach beta: From the Naturefreeundehaus mentioned in the guidebook, follow the marked nature trail eastwards towards Shaufelsen for about 600m until this dives off rightwards into the woods at this sign:

Turn off the main track here, but instead of following the nature trail, head immediately down hill until you reach a parallel traversing path. Turn left (east) along this and you reach the foot of the crag in another 400m.

It is a striking wall of pockets – some huge, like these on Traumwand:

Others not so big – here’s a local lass battling with one of the 8s to right.

At the left end of the crag is the superb arete of Rittlerkante, which has snuck onto the leaderboard in the “route of the trip” stakes. Stupendous!

Further right, the next crag is Holle, but a quick inspection suggested we’d need to be climbing a bit better to make the most of it. Here’s a strong youth on a 9.

We took advantage of the excellent hospitality at the nearby Rose Rußberg Gasthaus – free overnight parking (including hook-up) if you dine there. Sounds like a free-beer plan to me – what’s not to like!?

Poor planning left us needing a rest on the last decent day before the weather crapped out, so we made the short excursion into the Black Forest to see the source of the Danube. By definition, this is anything but spectacular – it’s a tiny spring dribbling out from beneath a statue the Roman river god Danubis

Amazing to think that by the time it reaches the Black Sea, 2,850km later, it has a flow of 7,000m3/s and has passed through 40 major cities in 10 countries including 4 capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.

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