A guest blog by Yessica Klein
Germany might not be at the top of the mind when it comes to rock climbing, but that doesn't mean the country is without its fair share of rock climbing spots. With a climbing season lasting from May to October, Germany is a great option for climbers of all levels – particularly those wishing to escape scorching temperatures in the summer.
Germany's climbing opportunities are high quality and easy to access by car or train, making rocking climbing adventures a no-brainer! So get your equipment ready and pack your bags to check out six of the best rock climbing spots in Germany.
Frankenjura is a rock climber's dream due to its striking limestone and dolomite rocks that offer over 12,000 routes – some of the most challenging climbs in the country are located here. In fact, the world's first-ever 9a route, called Action Directe, is here and was first done by Wolfgang Güllich in 1991. Other expert routes include Wall Street and Devil’s Crack.
It's the country's most famous spot for climbers, featuring over 1,000 limestone and dolomite rocks with incredible variety for all levels. Located in northern Bavaria between Bayreuth, Bamberg, and Nürnberg, Frankenjura attracts an international crowd all year round – if not for its walls, for the romantic villages, local breweries, and hiking trails.
Climbers looking for a scenic route should look no further than the infamous Sächsische Schweiz with its iconic (and steep) sandstone formations. The rocks formed around 145 to 66 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period – when T-rex was still likely to roam the area.
To protect the rocks, there are a few rules: Climbers are not allowed to use chalk, and metal nuts and cams are not permitted – only nylon slings are allowed. Ropes and bolts are only permitted for safety, never as a way of climbing. The legend goes that those rules are the origin of free climbing (also known as bouldering).
Located between Dresden and the Czech border in eastern Germany, this national park is around the river Elbe valley for the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, with over 1,000 climbing peaks and 14,000 climbing routes. The difficulty of the routes vary, and beginners can also enjoy climbing in the Sächsische Schweiz.
Climbing near the Alps is a picture-perfect experience; just imagine climbing accompanied by the view of snow-capped mountain tops and Germany's famous fairy-tale castles (such as Neuschwanstein Castle or Hohenschwangau Castle), with the option to cool in the Großer Alpsee after climbing… bliss!
Located in southern Bavaria, the Allgäu region offers climbers elongated and steep conglomerate walls – a rare and special challenge. Some of the routes are 40m long, and the ascent might take up to 10 minutes.
Rottachberg is one of the top climbing areas in the Allgäu. Climbers can also explore the rocks near Brauneck, where the crossing of Kampenwand offers beginner's climbing passages (and the Jachenau waterfall) or Kochel, with more challenging routes by the emerald waters of Kochelsee.
Ready to explore some granite rocks? Excellent for crack climbing and generally proving climbers with a great grip, granite is a favourite of many climbers. Coarse and grainy surface, ideal for bolts? Check. Solid structure? Check. Fast-drying after a rainfall? Check.
The peaks, walls, and ridges in the western Harz and especially in the Oker and Ilsetal form one of the most unique climbing areas in Germany. With over 1,200 routes and 200 rocks, climbing in Harz is perfect for beginner and intermediate climbers since the routes are often inclined.
Beyond granite, climbers can also find sandstone, limestone, porphyrite, and slate. Rock faces go up to 50m and are not far from each other, which makes Harz ideal for exploring a lot of climbing possibilities during your adventure.
Along the Rhein, the landscape is shaped by volcanic eruptions of the last 50 million years – and some spots have uncovered hard basalt, making it the largest 'volcanic' climbing area in Germany. The old quarry area of Mayen, halfway between Cologne and Frankfurt, is one of them.
These basalt columns feature many cracks, intersections, edges, and hardly any classic holds – which are best left for experienced climbers as some special techniques might be necessary. In total, there are over 1,400 routes, some of them reaching 30m high.
A feast of climbing challenges: compact walls, honeycombed weathering, cracks, slabs, and roofs are widely available for climbers in Pfalz. 'The rocks of the Palatinate could also be in Utah', writes climber Henner Thies. It's easy to see why: the dark red sandstone rocks come up from the hilly forests – but you're still in the heart of the Rhineland-Palatinate state.
Unlike the protected sandstone in the Sächsische Schweiz, some of the 1.000 routes and rocks in the area allow bolts, standard nuts, and cams. Although the area is smaller, it offers a great variety of challenges for all levels. Between Pirmasens and Landau, Pfalz is the largest and most famous climbing area in the region, with faces up to 60m high.
Yessica Klein is a Brazilian-German writer living in Berlin. She holds a MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University (London, UK) and was shortlisted for the 2021 Aesthetica Creative Writing Prize and the 2017 Jane Martin Poetry Prize. She dreams of a writer's cottage in the woods.