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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rock Climbing in Bielatal near Dresden, Germany

Rock climbing in Bielatal is like warping back in time and landing in the days when climbers climbed barefoot, wore Swami belts, and used slings for protecting routes - literally.

The climbing in the Dresden, Germany area has not followed the flashy modern ways of most other climbing venues. No chalk, no bolts, no top-roping, no nuts, no cams. While modern climbing harnesses and shoes are now common sights in Bielatal, you might be chased out of the woods if you're seen using the aformentioned items. Part tradition and part protecting the soft sandstone, the modern metal climbing gear found hanging on people's harnesses in every crag in America is not allowed in Beilatal. Watching the locals climbing with just a rack of slings and biners is a humbling experience.

Getting there. You can get to Bielatal using public transportation. View this Google Map.

Several sandstone towers reach above a forested ridge a few kilometers from the Czech Republic.

Most of the routes follow flaring crack systems.

Most routes are lead and the followers are top-belayed to prevent rock-damaging rope drag.

The first follower trailing a rope for the next.

An old-school biner from the DDR!

Slings with knots tied in them for protection.

Heike demonstrates the "fling" technique. Tie the perfect size knot one-handed on lead, and fling it in the crack above your head until it catches.

One of the few "bolts" seen in the rock.


At the top, there is usually a single monster anchor to secure yourself into and to rappel from. Tradition calls for everyone to shake each others hands and say "Berg Heil!" (salute the mountain!).

Each tower has its own register book in specially created metal boxes on the top, which you must sign. It's very important to document who lead the route and who top-roped. And most importantly, use the supplied straight edge to draw a horizontal line under your party's entry.

Kicking back on the top. Berg Heil!

See also: Diedre 5.7, Squamish - Climbing Beta
and: Ten German Birds

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, just wandered onto this post once again. Just wanted to say, H___e decided to trade in her old GDR equipment for new gear this year, after a friend told her that the material does in fact change over the years. Cheers! Che