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Donautal Camping and Aussichtsfels visit!

Donautal Camping and Aussichtsfels visit!

Got up bright and early Saturday, packed the bags and kids in the car and headed for Hausen im Tal. The plan? Some father-kids camping time in the Danube valley. This was the first time I visited without doing any climbing (and hopefully the last). In contrast to the city folk still staring down at their phones constantly, my gaze kept going up at the dozens upon dozens of crags around. In fact, no matter where you look, there they are, lining the valley walls overlooking the Danube. A good deal are closed to climbing, and yet there are still nearly 30 which are open.

Donautal Camping at “Camping Wagenburg”

We stayed at Camping Wagenburg which occupies a long grassy field along the Danube. It is located in the town of Hausen im Tal which is the center of Donautal climbing and usually the base for most climbers. It also has some easy stuff right in town like Stuhlfels which means big climbing groups from the DAV. That makes camping there incredibly convenient, however compared to the US, annoyingly crowded. Tents were 10 feet from each other with people constantly walking by or running around your stuff. The location is beautiful and practical, but it’s certaintly not all that relaxing and in no way camping in the sense that an American would understand it.

Donautal Crag: Aussichtsfels

With the kids in tow and no belay partner, I had no plans to get on the rock this trip. However, I had plans to drive further through the valley and check out a number of other crags. A few I only saw from a distance or from the parking area, but two were next on my to-climb list so I broke camp Sunday morning and headed eastwards towards Inzigkofen to check out Aussichtsfels and Dreiecksfels, both of which offer a number of easy multipitch climbs with great views.

Donautal: Camping & Aussichtsfels Pictures

Schloss Lichtenstein and Triafelberg Crag

Schloss Lichtenstein and Triafelberg Crag

This past Thursday was a holiday, one of the many Christian holidays that are also federal holidays in Germany (and would be illegal in the US). While I didn’t get to climb, I took the kids to the Swabian Alb to vistit Schloss Lichtenstein and Nebelhoehle, a castle and cave respectively. Lichtenstein is also located just across from Traifelberg, a long series of crags overlooking the village of Lichtenstein with plenty of moderate to hard routes.

Schloss Lichtenstein (castle)

Schloss Lichtenstein is not famous outside of Germany, in fact not realy outside of Baden-Wuerttemberg, but here it’s known as the “Fairy Tale Castle.” My  daughter changed that into “Fairy Castle”.| Luckily, she didn’t notice when we didn’t actually find fairies there. Despite being a castle and looking the part, it’s not actually that old, build in the gothic revival style in the mid 1800s. It is still privately owned, but open to tourists near daily. While possibly disappointing to some, for families the fact that it is actually rather small is fantastic. You can view the castle grounds for 1 EUR per child and 2 EUR for adults. The tour is a few euros more but only 30 minutes.

Compared to the Disney like lines and hordes of Neuschwanstein, Lichtenstein is fairly quiet. Located southest of Reutlingen, it’s also right across from Traifelberg, a crag full of moderate to hard climbs. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough patience left after the castle visit to convince the rugrats to hike up and check it out. We settled for pictures from across the valley.

Nebelhoehle (Fog Cave)

Just 5 km from Lichtenstein in the Swabian Jura (Schwaebische Alb) is a famous cave, featured in many local fairy tales including those associated with the castle Lichstenstein. Important to know, they take cash only and the nearest bank is nearby in a tiny village. So bring cash (I learned the hard way). In addition to the cave, they have a pleasant little restaurant, great playground and some nice hiking in the area. If you’re in the area, it’s worth spending an afternoon in the area and finishing off at the cave followed up by watching the kids play while drinking a beer or radler. Good times were had by all.

 

Schloss Lichtenstein + Traifelberg Pictures

Battert climbing – The Jewel and Trad Mecca of southern Germany

Battert climbing – The Jewel and Trad Mecca of southern Germany

Battert! I’ve wanted to climb here since first seeing the pictures in my Black Forest guidebook. It’s the most unique crag in southern Germany and the trad mecca of the region. It’d been rainy for several days before and I was convinced we’d have to call it off. It was even gray and rainy here in Stuttgart the morning of, but by the time we were near the crag, the sky was blue and sunny. Granted, the rain started in around 13:30 but by then we’d managed to get several climbs in and just being there and doing Blockgrat was already a great day for me.

Quick Facts:

  • Height: 80 meters
  • Routes: ~350
  • Grades: UIAA 3 to 8
  • Rock: Quartz-Porphyry
  • Distance from Stuttgart: 1.5hrs by car
  • Approach: 15 minutes, very well maintained, flat path.
  • Protection: Almost all trad, a bolt or two here and there. Belays often bolted.
  • Walk off:  Yes and No.
  • Guidebook: Kletterführer Schwarzwald Nord
  • Family friendly: Sort of. The approach is easy, short and flat, even stroller friendly. The base of the climbs vary. Definitely doable and no steep drop offs or so.

Battert Overview:

Battert stands out among all other crags in southern Germany for it’s size, rock type, rock quality and that it’s trad. The huge offering of multipitch routes, 25 different sectors, 350 climbs and beauty make unique and a must for anyone in the area. The Swabian Alb is chossy, pocketed limestone and almost entirely single pitch. Where in the world Battert came from can be left to geologists to explain. As you may have now guessed, it is a popular area and beloved climbs like Blockgrat can be busy on the weekends. So per my usual advice, either go during the week or be there at sunrise on the weekend.

Getting to Battert:

From Stuttgart  you first take the A8 to Karlsruhe and switch to the A5 going south. Once on the A5, get off at the exit Rastatt Nord and head towards the town of Kuppenheim and then to Ebersteinburg. After the traffic circle in Ebersteinburg, take a right into Herrenhaeckerstrasse and follow it until the end. It’s going to seem like you’re lost or took a wrong turn into some random suburb, but stay the course. At the end there’ll be a little dirt road you turn into and there’s the parking lot. At the end of the lot you’ll find the path to the crag. It’s a very easy approach. See photos below for details.

Popular climbs at Battert

With nearly 350 routes, there are many favorites. Here are just a few:

  • Blockgrat – 2 pitches, UIAA 4+ / YDS 5.5; trad; Blockgrat sector
  • Weg der Freundschaft – 3 pitches; UIAA 5+ / YDS 5.7; a few bolts, mostly trad; Falkenwand sector. Easy and direct route up the highest part of Battert.
  • Hallweg – 3 pitches; First ascent was an onsight free solo in 1926! UIAA 5+ / YDS 5.5 mostly trad; Falkenwand sector.
  • Lohnmuellerkamin -1 pitch UIAA4+ / YDS 5.5; trad; Cima della Madonna & Sass Maor sector

Finally, I’ve added most of these photos to Mountain Project and made the corresponding areas and routes to help everyone else.

Battert Climbing Pictures

 

Back from Lake Garda with an Arco visit

Back from Lake Garda with an Arco visit

My 7 night trip to Lake Garda (Gardasee) is over and I’m back in Stuttgart. Luckily, despite the cool weather in Italy (but sunny!), we missed the drastic temperature drop and snow here. While I did not do any climbing in Italy, as I expected, I did take a short day trip to Arco, Italy’s infamous climbing hotspot.

There were dozens of climbing shops lining the old town, almost as numerous as German tourists. There were some good rope deals I saw but otherwise everything seemed priced pretty similarly to if I’d bought it online in Germany from Bergfreunde or Bergzeit. There dozens and dozens of crags, realy an insane amount of climbing all in the area. If you’re willing to drive an hour, then the opportunities move to near uncountable.

For English, the go-to climbing guide is Arco Walls, which you can also find at any shop there. In German, your best bets are Klettern in Arco and Arco Plaisir (which has pleasure/easy climbs). Without further ado, here are some pics.

 

Arco, Italy: The Photos

 

Family climbing at Klettergarten Stetten

Family climbing at Klettergarten Stetten

With good weather on a roll here, it was time for another family outing to the Klettergarten Stetten, northeast of Stuttgart in the vineyards. Located in an old sandstone quarry, it’s an easy drive, easy approach and lots of climbing for every level, plus a walk off option. Good times were had by all.

My son climbed his first route, as in from top to bottom – not stopping 1/3 of the way up as usual. To my delight, he said he didnt like the gym but outside was more fun. Message received! I managed a 7+ (Z-riss) on top rope after some trouble with the crux. But good to feel improvement in the gym translate into real rock.

Klettergartn Stetten Photos and Approach info

Climbing Gear Porn: The typical “my closet/gear organization post”

Climbing Gear Porn: The typical “my closet/gear organization post”

Below are two pictures of current method of storing climbing gear.If I had more wall space I’d probably put the whole thing on pegboards, but there are wives to be reckoned with (well, one wife).

The old-school wooden ice axe at the top is a circa 1950 made Swiss one I found in our basement. Apparently my wife’s grandfather’s.  I need to mount in the wall one of these days…

The most frequently used gear is easily accessible. 

Climbing Gear closet
Inside my IKEA wardrobe – one side climbing, other side “normal” clothes
Sunday Outdoor climbing

Sunday Outdoor climbing

This past Sunday I had an unexpected window of free time and good weather, a combination hard to pass up. So I texted a friend and we hit the outdoor section of the gym. Did 6-, 5+, 6, 7-, 7+.

Had to cheat on one hold of the 7+ getting over the ledge. But watching a friend do it, looks like I needed to move my right foot up a bit. I’ll definitely repeat the route next time anyway as it’s probably the most fun one there. After that you’re horizontal most for 2 more bolts until the anchors. Super super fun and luckily my partner agreed to clean. To be fair though, I’d downgrade it to 7 or 7-. See second picture.

 

DAV Kletterzentrum Waldau AussenbereichMy favorite 7+

Route follows red line. Another view (with snow) here.

Good weather and no partner at Waldau!

Good weather and no partner at Waldau!

With temperatures hitting a scorching 15C today here in Stuttgart, my plans to climb outdoors were unfortunately dashed by a last minute cancellation on my partner’s part! That means of course: forever alone….or rather bouldering. So, I hit the gym today and was at least greeted by a dozen or so new problems bolted since the last time I went bouldering. On my way out, I wistfully snagged a few pictures of the climbs that could have been. Nevertheless, time to climb is always good.

The Ohm is here to rent

And in a first, my gym now has the Edelrid Ohm for rent for 3 EUR. Not surprising I guess. The German version of Climbing magazine (Klettern) did its tests of the Ohm there. I was surprised when reading the last issue to recognize all the walls.

 

DAV Kletterzentrum Stuttgart Waldau DAV Kletterzentrum Stuttgart Waldau

Edelrid Ohm for rent
Edelrid Ohm for rent