Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A visual journey to the city of Prague & climbing in the German Elbsandsteingebirge! - Part: 2

In the last post we explored the sites in the Czech city of Prague (Praha).
Mmm, this pilsner goes down like water!  Cheers to beer prices in Praha!

This post takes us north about 150km to the German climbing area Elbsandsteingebirge
in the Saechsische Schweiz region.  It is a National Park in Germany.
One of the many spires & hamlets in the Elbsandsteingebirge.

Some of the 1500 spires!

People have been climbing in the area since 1874!  Not sure what year the tower jumping started, but human bridges or stacks have been used for many years.     Routes = 15,000     Yep, that's right 15k!

The rules are no metal protection.  Bolts are allowed, but must be drilled on lead.  The spacing of these giant nails (which are pounded in with some lead strips for expansion)  has come down over the years.  I believe it used to be 5 meters.  Now I think it is 3 meters.  Some routes have many, some none, except for a rap anchor.  And did I mention that you only ever get one to rap off of?

The rock is really fun to climb on, well featured, and is not so bad without chalk.  Now i'm not saying that I forgot about that white magic powder while there.  It was 90F + degrees outside.  Luckily you could just find sand and dirt to rub all over the hands.  My hands would be so black from "chalking up" in the dirt that it looked like I was on ElCap for a week.  But I didn't have to worry much about that, because I had other things on my mind!  Like don't fall here, or on that, or whatever.  A well protected route (in general of the 17 we climbed) was protected at 10 feet between your choice of threads, knots, drapes, and bolts.  Things look good, it's just the softness of the rock.  Will it hold if I hang? Yes.
Will it hold if I fall?  Hmm, na.

Outside of our hotel, morning.

Outside of our hotel, evening.  With a 10 minute fireworks celebration.  

From the summit of a spire, looking back down river to our hotel in the distance.

                             So let's get in the car, and go see what we can get ourselves into!

            Glad we arrived. . .
Get me out of this micro machine!

Barely enough room for us & gear.

Did I mention we hauled our dear
friend Max in the car too?

So I am not going to get into the details of what all we climbed.  After all it is all about having fun right?  I would never be able to pronounce the climb names anyway.  Ok, so here is the details anyway.  
We climbed trad routes up to 5.11 (Yosemite grade) with no chalk or metal gear!  Well ok, that is a lie! We did use metal carabiners, but the locals seem to think they are ok. . .

Liz trying hard on the first route of the trip!  Nothing like warming up on 5.10 something with no chalk!

Luckily for us we had some locals /  new friends to climb with.  Our dear friend Max Bolland from Germany came to join the fun, and his old friends from the area showed us awesome time.  Karsten & Susann Lohf have climbed in the Elbsandsteingebirge for the past 35 years!  It was such a treat to be shown the classic routes, in the shade (90F+ outside).  They know the area so well, which was great.  One thing I had been told of was the approaches, and lack of signs, info, etc.  People had mentioned being lost for half a day looking for some rock that is buried in the thick, deep woods.  Then when you finally arrive at the rocks (with a book no less) you wonder what is what.  There are no photos in the book.  Not even black&white!  Uhh, do you think that's it, or is it that one. . .

I think I forgot my chalk bag somewhere, and do you think that gear will hold?!

Despite the hot temps, and no chalk. . .  I was able to lead up to 5.11+, which felt good for me.
Sometimes Karsten would lead, and then we would pull the rope for my lead, leaving the gear in place.  That was a nice treat, as trying to find the sand clock (two pockets to form a thread) in the middle of the face can prove to be pumping.  It also has to be done with one hand, while hanging from the other.  A bit hard on 5.11 terrain!  I did lead some routes placing items, but it all kind of felt like soloing to a rest / protection placement.  It was not so much worrying about the gear (or knots, etc.), just the quality or softness of the rock.  I felt like I could hang on anything, but to fall on it would be another story!
A well protected route is every 10 feet or 3 meters.  Most routes (that we did) had a larger spacing between items placed.

Here Karsten demonstrates the time required to complete a thread through a sand clock.
Un-girth hitch cord from harness.  Thread hole by hand or with small stick hanging from harness.
Continue to hang by one hand.  Do special wrist flick to flip tails of cord around.
Finish tying knot in the cord, which is a simple overhand (EDK) knot.
Clip sling on, and hope you left a long enough tail on the cord.

Here is a 6pack of photos from a classic 5.11

A classic 5.9 around the corner from the 5.11
Liz follows Karsten up this awesome looking route!

The standard nail with ring.

Cumbre!  Oh wait, that's not German.
View from the summit!
Liz having fun on yet another spire!

Karsten following me up to the summit belay.

Summit belay!  Why is everyone so happy it is 90F+ outside with 90% humidity?!?
Oh yeah, because we are CLIMBING with a PILSNER!  Crazy? NO.

Max (The Bavarian Alpinist) crushes it on the lead.  

Karsten (Belayed by Susann) is just a master of sport at the Elbsandsteingebirge!
Nice rack!

Nice light & shadow on Susann!

Another master of sport at the Elbsandsteingebirge!

Max coming back to lead a route he had followed years ago.
It looked so good, I had better lead it too!
Splitter!   (At 5.10 runout, I felt most comfy on this route because of the perfect hands.)  
Liz on the sharp end!

Seems like it is usually only a 5 minute walk to a rest spot like this one near the climbing.

Fun roof -  crack climbing!

Rack for crack!  All this cord is heavier than my Camalots.

On our final day we went to a touristy area.

Complete with a spire that has some medieval steps carved into it, with relics of an old catapult type weapon on top!

Looking down on the approach bridge from the summit!

I hope you enjoyed our photo journey to Elbsandsteingebirge! 

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