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!