Consider yourself an accomplished climber? Or maybe you’re just getting started in the climbing scene and want to experience some great outdoor routes for the first time? Well, whatever your level of skill we’ve got just the place for you, Frankenjura. It’s one of the world’s most famous climbing destinations and has more than 10,000 different routes to choose from, with more than 300 being labelled as specifically for beginners.
Where is Frankenjura?
Frankenjura, known affectionately as ‘Franconian Switzerland’ is located in Bavaria, Germany; more specifically between Bamberg, Nurenberg and Bayreuth. The area is well known for its romantic landscapes, forest valleys and picturesque castles, which make it a popular destination for climbers and general outdoor enthusiasts.
Why is it such a good climbing destination?
The area is home to more than 1000 different crags, each one with its own unique selection of routes and each one surrounded by its own unique and beautiful scenery. The rock at Frankenjura is high quality white and grey limestone, full of holes and finger pockets making it ideal for all manner of climbing.
Germany’s temperate climate also means that climbing is both possible and enjoyable from late spring through to late autumn. What’s more, the close proximity of other crags means that climbers can change crags during the day to stay in the sun or shade as desired.
Expert versus beginner climbs (The grading system)
Frankenjura has an amazing range of climbs for all levels of ability. The grades range from UIAA 3 (F3) to UIAA 11+ (F9a). For those of you not familiar with what these grades mean, they refer to two different systems of climbing grading. First, the UIAA system, uses roman numerals from I to XI, with XI representing the highest difficulty and I the lowest. This system is popular in European countries and is frequently used in Frankenjura. The second system, known as the French system, uses a sequence of numbers ranging from 1-9, with letters for subdivisions such as 6a and 6b. In this system 9 is the most difficult, and the french system as a whole is growing in popularity across Europe, including in Frankenjura.
If all that sounds too confusing then don’t worry, all you need to do is stick to low numbers as a beginner and higher numbers if you’re an advanced climber.
What equipment is needed for climbing in Bavaria?
Since Frankenjura is a popular climbing destination most of the climbing routes have been well-bolted. This means you’ll basically only need a 50m rope kit. However, if you’re wanting to attempt some of the older routes you may need to carry some healthy climbing snacks such as nuts and slings with you. It’s also worth noting that if you were wanting to attempt one of the ‘long wall’ classic routes that you would probably need a 60 to 70m rope kit.
*If you’re a true beginner then you’ll want to find yourself a reliable instructor to teach you the basics and keep you safe as you learn. Since Frankenjura is such a popular destination this should be a pretty easy task.
What else is there to do?
This being Germany there’s a great pub scene in and around the local area, in fact, the region actually has the highest density of breweries anywhere in the world! We recommend you head to Bruckmayers in Pottenstein to drink a HeldBraü.
Cake and coffee is also a big part of the Franken climbing experience. (Which will probably help after all those brewery visits!) The type of cake offered usually depends on the season, but is always delicious. We’ve heard great things about the Leistner Pension Cafe in Obertrubach, which also has wireless so you can share and upload your hard earned climbing stories and pictures. You can also try the Cafe Backerei Müller, also in Obertrubach, which you’ll find near the church. Whilst you’re there you can also see the final resting place of Wolfgang Gullich, widely considered to be one of the best sport climbers in history. (We’ll tell you a little more about him in the next paragraph)
Last but not least there’s plenty of swimming to do on your rest days. Betzenstein has a great heated outdoor swimming area, or if you want a little bit of refreshment from the summer sun you can try the unheated pool in Egloffstein.
Who was Wolfgang Gullich?
We were just going to make a passing reference to Gullich, but he’s such a pivotal character in the history of the Frankenjura climbing scene we thought we’d give you a bit more information. Born in Ludwigshafen in 1960, Gullich started climbing from a young age. By his teens he was one of the best climbers in the country and by his twenties he had travelled to various worldwide destinations to conquer their hardest ascents. He moved to Frankenjura in the early 80’s and was single-handedly responsible for the creation of no less than 5 new climbing routes.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the routes Gullich found were so difficult that the worldwide climbing community had to add 4 new grades of difficulty consecutively for each of his climbs:
- 8b (Kanal Im Rücken, 1984)
- 8b+ (Punks In The Gym, 1985)
- 8c (Wall street, 1987)
- 9a (Action Directe, 1991)
We hope this look at climbing in Frankenjura has inspired some of you fitness travellers to get out there and give it a go, whatever your level of climbing ability. After all, what could be more fun than a week of climbing, cake, coffee, swimming, sun and fitness!?