Climbing in Saxon Switzerland

“The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are the Earth’s most beautiful climbing region”

– Climbing pioneer Jean Claude Droyer

Little wonder that elite climbers refer to “their” Saxon Switzerland as the centre of the “Old World”: this is the true home of the sport. In 1874, stonemason Otto Ewald Ufer and his companion H. Frick managed to reach the summit of the Mönchstein near Rathen using only ladders and iron clamps. In their wake, the rock was conquered by Oscar Schuster and later by Rudolf Fehrmann. And so Saxon Switzerland became the birthplace of free climbing. From the first climbing shoes with hemp soles and summit registers to the first difficulty scale, of I to III, and climbing regulations, the framework for the sport of climbing was made in Saxon Switzerland. Today, more than 1,100 climbing rocks, with approximately 18,000 routes, are available to free climbers of all levels and against the breathtaking backdrop of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Opportunities to ascend and descend are endless in what is a theatre of dreams for climbers who seek a unique experience in a precious natural environment. Names such as “Lokomotive” (locomotive),

Elbe Sandstone by FRANK EXSS

Elbe Sandstone by FRANK EXSS

“Talwächter” (keeper of the valley) or “Wehlnadel” (the needle) describe well nature’s works of art. Safely up the wall With few limitations (some areas have been afforded special conservation status) elite climbers come from all corners of the globe to find freestanding sandstone rocks and climbing trails of all degrees of difficulty, from I to XII.

Saxon Climbing Regulations protect the sensitive nature of the sandstone and important fauna and flora habitats in the National Park region. To protect the soft stone, the use of metal aids (clamps etc.) is prohibited. Traditionally, nooses have been used. It is forbidden to modify the rock surface except when affixing safety rings (only possible on permitted virgin ascents!). Climbing on wet or unsound rock is prohibited. At times of inclement weather, a climbing arena and indoor high-wire garden offer good alternatives. Why not climb in the most famous and undoubtedly most attractive climbing area in the region?
• Climbing taster courses for beginners; also with and for professionals (all year round). Equipment is available for hire
• Climbing is possible on climbing rocks and when raining in climbing arenas

Fearless and ready for a steep climb? In addition to more than 1,200 kilometres of marked hiking trails, there are some fully developed steep terrains. Some exist along signposted hiking routes such as the “Wildschützensteig” in the “Schrammsteine” range, while others are off the public trail. The most famous steep climb is the “Häntzschelstiege” in the “Affensteine”. It was extensively reconstructed by National Park authorities in 2002. To complete a climbing tour in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains you will need to watch your step – and be fearless!

Saxon Switzerland – A Miracle of Nature between Dresden and Prague

If you were looking for a holiday by the sea, you are about 100 million years late …

Over time, the sea of the Cretaceous period evolved into the romantic landscape of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, where wild canyons and sandstone stacks, tors and mesas serve as the hallmarks of Saxon Switzerland. In southeastern Saxony, some 30 km from Dresden and 150 km from Prague, rugged mountains and sweeping river valleys form the backdrop to a 760 km² adventure playground stacked with natural wonders. At the heart of this dramatic gift of ancient history is a vast National Park: as far as the eye can see, lush, green nature spills from the fossilised Cretaceous sea through which the River Elbe has carved its course.

Experience Heaven in the National Park

National Parc Sign by Mandy Krebs

National Park Sign by Mandy Krebs

The National Park of Saxon Switzerland offers endless ways to spend your holiday. The 93 km2 region between Pirna and the Czech border is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. More than 700 summits are available to rock climbers, while for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are 400 km of marked trails, steep treks, paths and an abundance of cycle routes through the National Park. Nearby resorts and spas serve as oases for those who seek a cure or simply want to be pampered. Travellers, from families to adventure-seekers are transported to a quirky and wildly romantic world. The crystal clear waters of the Elbe’s tributaries flow quietly through valleys forged between mighty table mountains. Salmon, otters and kingfishers are at home here. Lynx prowl woods that retain the feel of primeval forest, while hawks, black storks and eagle owls soar and hover high above steep canyons …

From Switzerland with love
The name Saxon Switzerland is no coincidental reference to the alpine feel of the landscape. About 200 years ago, Anton Graff and Adrian Zingg, painters of the Romantic period, visited Dresden. Excursions into the magnificent mountain-like landscape reminded them of their homeland, Switzerland. Impressed by the breathtaking sandstone formations, they came to a conclusion: such a masterpiece of nature should bear the name of “Switzerland”. In letters home, they declared “Greetings From Saxon Switzerland“ – and the name stuck.