Imagine a world with; intelligent, witty, uber long legged, beer swilling, friendly smiling people, 22-28 degree temperatures, ancient castles and hundreds of limestone outcrops hidden in the forest. A place where you can drive as fast as you want, where coffee is drank with cakes for lunch, where beer is considered food and Volkswagen is pronounced folksvagen. Well that’s Germany or rather Bavaria (Southern Germany), more precisely the Frankenjura. The magnificent climbing in Frankenjura, a.k.a. Franconia, a.k.a. Fränkische Schweiz, is the land of test piece routes and climbing history. The area of Frankenjura is located north of Nuremberg and has a certain middle ages aura with; ancient castles, wooded forest areas, small valleys, quaint villages, farms, rivers and charming people. There are about 9,000 routes and 1000 crags spread throughout a 60 square kilometre area. The rock is a grey/white high quality limestone and has a grainy sandstone texture. The dominant features are pockets but, crack lines, flakes, huecos, jugs, knobs, slopers, and the dreaded crimpers are to be found. The cliffs range from scrambles, to vertical, to full on roof climbing and can be from 10-40 meters high. With the approach time from the parking spots 2-15 minutes walking in flip flops most of the time and on the way forests are full of birdlife, large squirrels, deer, wild pigs, and butterflies.
Where to climb
The best climbing print magazine in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is Klettern. They have put together a nice list of their top 100 climbs from French 5a to 9b. The best routes and crags in the Frankenjura
The German climbing news source on the web is Kletterszene.com they have done a great write up about Frankenjura the coolest climbing in the World
Some say it can be an humbling experience!
Röthelfels – Devils Crack (10d) Kurt Albert in 1977 famous photo of Kurt in Lederhosen hanging off a baseball hold gaston style with one hand and a massive mug of beer in the other hand.
Zehnerstein – with a massive piton sculpture on the pinnacle. Nordwestkante (5.9), Seifertriss (10c)
Bleisteine – Offenbarung (11d ), Eraser Head (12a)
Richard-Wagner-Fels – Fight Gravity (12a), Magnet (12c), Amadeus Schwarzenegger (13b)
Grüne Hölle – Sultan of Swing (12b), Vögeln Verboten (13a), Spiderman (13b), The Man That Follows Hell (5.14d)
Mittelbergwand and Castellwand – have a few small via ferratas that can be joined with some hiking to make a bit of fun for the kids or Direkter Kletterboumweg (10b), Kauperkante (10b), Lila Pause (12c), XXL (5.13b)
Weissenstein – Boulderwandl(5.8), Panische Zeiten (11b), Dampfhammer(11d), Wilde13 (11c), Strohdach (12a)
Obere Schlossbergwand – Dezentraler Energiepfad (11c), Liebe ohne Chance (12d), Master Blaster (13c)
Bärenschlucht – Herkules (13a), Subway (13c), Drive by Shooting (14a)
Marientaler Wande – Trittbrenfahrer(10b), Schlaffsack (11a), Stromlinie (12d)
Freundenhaus – Ejakulation(5.11d), Golden Shower Queen (5.12b)
Krottenseer Turm – Chasin the Train (5.12d), Hitch-hike the Plane (5.13a), Wallstreet (5.14b)
Waldkopf – Action Direct (5.14d)
Burn for you – Corona (15a)
I have been using this from a German drug store DM. I spray my waist, shoes, socks and pants. It seems to be working.
The “Bayern Ticket” is good for all of the Bavarian state for one day, beginning after 9am. The cost for 1 person is 25€ and each additional person 7€, up to a total 5 people. Cheap train in Bavaria – DBAHN
In the Nuremberg, Erlangen and Franken area the public transport VGN has a “Tages Plus Ticket”, which costs 20€ and on the weekend is a super deal. It is valid all Saturday and Sunday and includes 2 adults, 2 bikes and 1 child. Train and bus deal in Frankenjura
You can always try hitchhiking but a VW Bus driving by does not mean what it once did. #vanlife is another sign that times are changing. Most likely a Franken local will give you a short lift.
There are small campgrounds everywhere all charge from 7€ for a solo traveler up to 40€ for 2 people with a car. Also, the locations vary, you can camp by a noisy road, cold misty river, or surrounded by quietness and bungalows. Many are hidden away up on small hilltop villages so go explore. There a lot of quaint guest houses with rates from 35€ for 2 people upwards. My buddy stayed at a place for 25€ with breakfast run by a quirky 75-year old farmer.
Velden- Velden accommodations
Betzenstein-Guest house, Pension and rental house
Waischenfeld- Where to stay
Or in any of the fantastic small creeks or rivers. The Pegnitz near Velden has good spots or up the Wiesenttal towards Waischenfeld are some great places.
Where and what to eat
The local Gasthaus is where you can get food, beer and lodging. I wanted to try some authentic Franconian dishes; Kuchen-cake these come in endless varieties cherry, poopyseed, cheese cake, and apple strudel can be enjoyed with a coffee. For supper there is Schäuferle (pigs shoulder) with gravy and Knödel (big potato dumplings), Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Kartoffelsalat (potato salad) and a beer. The Bavarian beer ethic (Reinheitsgebot) dictates that breweries make beer using only four ingredients; barley, hops, yeast and water. We sat down for a drink and some food. While we ate and drank the locals told me about beer health ‘beer slows arterial plaque formation, works as a mild diuretic and helps with colds, gastrointestinal problems and IQ increases after moderate beer consumption’, said Karl. For climbers beer provides isotonic fluid replacement and the carbohydrates are easily digested to replenish energy lost during climbing.’ There are over 200 Breweries in the Frankenjura.
Beer and wurst
Cake and Coffee
The best cake selection in this quaint place is Wednesday till Sunday. Try the cheese cake, nougat cream, black forest cake, bienenstich, donauwelle and apple pie.
Rockstore in Betzenstein on Nürnberger Str. 10a- has guide books, chalk, shoes, ropes, clothes, camping fuel, harness they place has everything. Telephone 09244 982599
A summer/fall climbing trip to the Frankenjura is a must when in Europe. The days of the brass band and Ramstein has been replaced with a groovy and hip music scene. The infamous German autobahn or highway in North America is a nerve strengthening experience with the speed limit being unlimited unless otherwise posted. While on rest days you can get your fix of Adidas, Mercedes, micro brew beers, old churches, and the classical clothing which borders on the perverse yet functional; the Dirndl for the women and the Lederhosen for the men. One thing that the German climbers taught me was ‘beer provides isotonic fluid replacement, and the carbohydrates are easily digested and replenish the energy lost during climbing.’ The rock climbing can be described as power/endurance and at every grade there are numerous test pieces waiting to challenge the motivated climber. Strong fingers, lock off strength and a desire for athletically powerful gymnastic movements is a bonus. This I will pass along as well a big recommendation to go to Germany.