The Perils of Finding Saengerheim and the Klettergarten!
Unfortunately, getting there isn’t always easy since you end up driving uphill through the vineyards on roads where it looks like you shouldn’t. The signage is also poor and I made sure to stop and send him pics at several turns. Unfortunately, he fell for the “GPS told me so” trap and decided to park elsewhere. So over an hour later, they finally showed up after some wrong turns in the woods with toddlers in tow and picnic gear.
A friend of mine and fellow expat recently told me she’d created a Meetup group for women who like to climb. It also reminded me to follow through on the same idea which I’d let slip after moving. It’ll take a while to get mine going, particularly as I also organize a board game night for English speaking expats too. Below are the links for anyone thinking of joining.
After many a wasted weekend doing housework, I decided to make a quick run to Hessigheimer Felsengaerten. I didn’t have time to climb and had to bring my four year old who was not happy about it. But, having been here nearly two years now, I still hadn’t visited a crag so near to Stuttgart despite having been to the Klettergarten Stettenseveral times. The main reason is that living in the southern part of town, it’s actually quicker for me to head to Bad Urach or the rest of the Swabian Alb. But it was time to finally check it off my list.
Height: 5 to 15 meters
Grades: Good mix of easy and moderate, a few toughies too
You could drive through town, but the quickest way is generally to take the A81 north and get off at the exit for “Mundelsheim” from which it’s only a few kilometers. The crag is listed in both Google Maps and Waze so just enter it in and choose the “Im Fetzer” parking lot, which is probably the one it is set to anyway (for Waze it is). You’ll end up driving through vineyards – as usual around Stuttgart – and on some country roads but keep going until you reach the parking lot. There are plenty of signs for it.
Hessigheimer Felsengaerten: Approach
From “Im Fetzer” it’s just about 0.5km to the crag. In fact, after parking, find the hiking sign and then just walk straight. It’ll take you down through the vineyards, past the Bergwachthuette (rescue hut) and then downhill to the crag. Up until the downhill section the approach is stroller friendly. The short downhill part is well maintained, not that steep and easy to do, just not with a stroller. But it’s totally fine for small kids who can walk. Once the initial downhill part ends and you reach an intersection (and you can begin to see the river below), turn left for about 30 seconds and then head right downhill towards the rock.
Hessigheimer Felsengaerten: Crag Overview
Surrounded by vineyards with the Neckar river snaking by below, Hessigheimer Felsengaerten couldn’t be in a nicer area. Local Swabians have been climbing in this area for nearly a hundred years by some accounts and it counts as Stuttgart’s home crag. Given it’s short distance from the city, it’s relatively popular, particularly in summer when the temperatures are high. There are more than enough routes for everyone with nearly 150 and a great mix of grades. The approach is pretty easy making it an all around favorite destination for locals. That being said, it doesn’t warrant a visit from far away unlike other areas such as Battert or Donautal which are worth visiting from out of town. But if you’re looking for a change from Stetten but something still nearby and famiyl friendly, this is a good option.
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.
Here’s an overview of my home gym, the DAV Kletterzentrum Stuttgart. Just a five minute drive or 20 minute walk away for me, I’m incredibly thankful to be so near. Let’s begin with a few stats to give you an idea of how awesome it is.
The Gym in Numbers:
Climbing area (inside): 2939 m²
Climbing area (outside): 1087 m²
Wall height: 17m
Routes: ~320 inside / ~ 145 outside
Grades: 2 to 11- UIAA
Max climb length: 28m inside / 22 outside
Bonus: All route grades are listed in the UIAA, YDS and French systems!
The DAV Kletterzentrum Stuttgart
As the name suggests, the gym is run by the Deutscher Alpenverein in Stuttgart. Located south of the city in the Waldau neighborhood, it’s easy to access by subway (u-bahn) and the largest facility in the city. Locally, most climbers simply refer to the gym as Waldau. It also also about two blocks from the local DAV chapter’s headquarters, DAV Sektion Schwaben, which includes a library and gear rental.
The gym has a small cafe serving both caffeinated and alcoholic beverages (it’s Germany) and the typical long green beer tables outdoors. There are very few top ropes available as it is generally seen as something reserved for beginners. Therefore, any TR routes are usually going to max out at 5.5 YDS. Around 90% of the routes are lead, though you can always follow which many people also do. For boulderers, there are three separate bouldering areas.
Two highlights for me are that there’s ledge on one of the walls setup to create a two pitch climb where people can practice multipitch technique. No permission, training or anything else required. Just try it. The same can be done outdoors as well.
The second highlight is the outdoor area consisting of an outer building wall as well as a large, modern-art esque structure covered in bolts and features. It’s a great way to get your outdoor fix when the crag is too far away. Unlike indoors, here you’re required to use your own quickdraws.
Route Logic / System
Routes are defined by hold color, NOT tape. So the entirety of a route will all be the same color. Volumes can be used IF they can be used to bolt additional holds onto. A volume which does not accept further bolt on holds is only for use on the route of its color.
Admin & Legal
This is Germany! There are no belay tests, certifications or anything similar. Don’t be stupid is the motto. You’ll sign a one paragraph document agreeing to follow the gym’s rules and that’s it. Climbers must bring their own rope and quickdraws (for outside) though you can rent everything should you forget.
The DAV Kletterzentrum Stuttgart is very family friendly for those of us with kids to think of. There is a small children’s climbing area that is enclosed as well as a large playground outdoors with a sandbox, slide, bridge, swings and more. There is no childcare on site which is unusual here (and in my experience, in the US too) so keep the little one’s in view.
If you can accept I’m not a professional photographer and just a guy using his phone, please enjoy an impromptu series of snaps from my last visit.
As Germany slowly coughs up a few days of decent weather now and again, it’s time to take a look at a simple crag near Stuttgart that is family-friendly, and a low investment in travel time, distance and required gear. It’s known simply as Klettergarten Stetten. For route details and grades, I’ve added already the area to Mountain Project here.
Height: 6-8 meters
Distance from downtown Stuttgart: 20 minutes by car
Approach: 10 minutes
Protection: Shiny new glue in bolts; everything can be TR’d and easy walk off
Stetten, as it known for short, is a very small former sandstone quarry northeast of Stuttgart in an area known as Remstal. Located on top of a hill sprawling with vineyards, it was from here that the rock for all the retaining walls up and down the hilly vineyards was taken. At some point, local climbers realized it made a fantastic (albeit very short) practice area. Over time, upkeep was taken over by the local DAV chapter and it is often used to teach children and new climbers the basics of outdoor. Located just 20 minutes or so from downtown Stuttgart by car, it’s a popular destination for kids groups, beginners and those looking for a quick outdoor fix without needing an hour’s drive and more gear.
See my directions on Mountain Project but either way it’ll depend on where you’re coming from. See Google Maps below for the exact location
Klettergarten Stetten is located in a kind of sunken circle given that it’s a quarry. That means it has a large completely flat area for kids to run and play, with nothing to trip on. Moreover, because it was a quarry, there are “walls” surrounding it meaning no bike or car traffic and only two ways in/out for kids to escape. There’s ample shade, room to throw a ball around and even plastic chairs around for everyone’s use.
Every single route and be top roped and there’s a walk off for everything. The place is so well organized and equipped, it’s nearly an outdoor gym. If you want to lead, you’ll only need to bring 6 draws and no gear. There are many easy routes, some being no more than basic scrambling which is great to get children used to the harness, rope and up their first route.
Lastly, given the location and size, Klettergarten Stetten is also a great place to run lap after lap on top rope solo. There’s usually at least one person doing so. Feel free to email me any questions and take a look at the gallery below for a concrete idea of the crag. Sorry about the sun/shadow in some of the pictures!
New climbing gym Sportzentrum Ost in Ludwigsburg (near Stuttgart)
Ludwigsburg – Die Gaststätte und der Pool sind zwar noch nicht fertig, aber das wird die Kletterfans kaum schrecken: Am nächsten Wochenende öffnet die neue Kletterhalle an der Ludwigsburger Fuchshofstraße: am Samstag nur für Vereinsmitglieder und am Sonntag, 22. Januar, von 11 bis 18 Uhr erstmals für alle. „Wir wollen den Leuten endlich zeigen, was da entstanden ist, auch wenn wir die Halle offiziell erst im Frühjahr einweihen“, sagt Hans-Peter Schmitt, der das Bauprojekt für die Wolfgang-Reisser-Stiftung betreut hat. Beim bloßen Zeigen wird es aber nicht bleiben, mit dem Sonntag beginnt auch der normale Kletterbetrieb.
If you can’t read German, the highlights are that this new gym ranks second in the area for size, but is clearly the best equipped in the Stuttgart area.
The new Sportzentrum Ost offers 2,600 m² of climbing area, 2,100 m² indoors and 500 m² outdoors. It includes a small restaurant, swimming pool, outdoor climbing area, yoga studio and gym. In contrast to the United States, climbing gyms usually do NOT have yoga or exercise equipment in Germany. That makes this unusual and a welcome addition to Stuttgart.
For parents, according to their website, they even offer childcare though no further details are available at time of writing. As a parent in the US, I found regular gyms often offered childcare while climbing gyms did not. In Germany it does not appear to be common, mostly because climbing gyms are rather non-profit and DAV run instead of pure businesses trying to compete.
Here’s a mock-up from their website, which is still under construction.