This is precisely what I found when I stepped onto the route. After the initial (6c) pitch, I put my hands on what I discovered to be a 40-meter, full endurance (8b) on tuffas. This pitch is varied, technical, and pumpy. After working the moves, I knew right away I was lucky to have chosen such a beautiful route; this single pitch at any crag would be a must-do, 5-star. As I took in the rope with a smile, I could hear my second’s agreement as he worked the moves with exclamations of delight! The (7b) pitch is a long stunning colonnette, and then there are the two magnificent (8a)’s on tuffas. The easier traverse and top pitch might not deserve too much celebration, but they allow you to link between four incredible pitches.
Working on Une Jolie and figuring out every detail, I couldn’t help but remember my adventure on the Voie Petit (500m, 8b max) back in 2016. At altitude, above a glacier, and on granite, these two routes have little in common, but my process was just the same. Negotiating with my fear 300 meters up a new wall is always an intimidating position, especially my fear of failing. I had to refocus on the pleasure and enjoy it. After all, I was abandoning my kid for a full day, so I had better make it a worthwhile success.
My achievement wouldn’t come through a grade, though; for a long time, I have realized grades are all relative. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it is a 9c or 7c; no one cares! It’s only climbing. It can only be for MY pleasure that I decide to put myself through fear, tiredness, and then, hope, and belief, which all turn into a passion. Of course, over the two days that I worked the route, I had quite a few moments where I despaired in figuring out a method. I also went to bed those nights, asking myself why I was doing this. But then, waking up at 5 am to beat the afternoon sun, I itched to put my hands on the rock, savored the idea that I could only rely on myself to get the rope up; this project reawakened the climber that I am.
I came home with precise sequences in my head and the knowledge that if I trained, visualized, and prepared, I had a chance to link it all. I knew training would be challenging, especially motivating for another endurance lap through the summer heat. But I was finding myself again, finding my space to be a climber and a good mum.
I returned to the route with James a month later while the grandparents took care of Arthur. Part of me wondered why we were leaving our baby, and we both felt a bit empty without him jumping around the van. But then in the early morning, I put my game face on, James transformed into Mr. Perfect Belayer, and the fun began. In the (8b), I had no idea if I had the necessary endurance, but in a month’s training, I had noticed that it was all coming back quickly. I climbed precisely without a single mistake. I have no idea how it happened–maybe being a parent and having little time forced me to improve my efficiency. The (7b), the first (8a), the (5c) it all went smoothly. Then, in the last (8a), I made a few mistakes. I forgot a few methods, and there was a moment at the very end, where I realized I had to make the right decision very fast, or I would be off, and maybe not have the energy to try the pitch again.
It is here that I faced my old friend, the fear of failing; every climber has to find a way of dealing with this. When I was a competition climber, I used to tell myself to focus closer on the pleasure of the movements. This time, with my forearms about to explode, and while I was struggling to slow my breathing on a relatively restful tuffa, I could see in my mind Arthur dancing to his favorite music. With that, I realized that falling would be ok; failing was indeed not that sad. Accepting the possibility of not doing it gave me the energy to finish the pitch and scrape my way to the belay. One more (6b), and I had done it, I was again the climber I wanted to be! I had proven to myself that there was a balance between being a mum and a climber. That even the joy of my little one could give me strength for climbing that I hadn’t had before.
I'd love to tell you James and I drove back home playing Une Jolie, but that would be too whimsically poetic. After all, ticking the climb for its name or notoriety is not the experience I was after. Plus, James hates the song, but James's story of understanding French poetry, and as I say, “truly” becoming French, is another story altogether.
Written by Moritz Welt
Photos by Lars Decker
Stage 6- Buoux
We stayed four days at the "Auberge des Seguins," which is a perfect location to go to the crags on foot. They even let us take our dinners outside by the bedroom while the baby was already in Bed. Buoux doesn't need any publicity. It is a unique, incredible crag, and there is a reason for its Fame. Buoux is a Must visit". No matter what your level is, you will find a gem to climb!
Stage 7- Mouries
Mouries is a long way from Buoux, and we had initially planned some extra stops. But the heatwave had begun, and the other planned spots were not as exciting. So, instead of climbing stops, we biked for two days, visited an abandoned troglodyte village (les grottes de cales), and loved it!
Mouries again is an old lady, and if you can get away from requiring extremely tough grades and enjoy the technical climbing, you will love it. Mouries is a climbing lesson in itself.
Stage 8- Fontvieille secret crag
I can't tell you the secret crags, as they are secret because they aren't technically allowed. To find them you have to ask as you meet climbers on your previous days and if you are lucky they may tell you the secrets! France is full of them, and sometimes these are the best crags!
We arrived back home after 25 days of traveling and climbing. It wasn't always restful, but then living with a baby is never restful! Every day brought us load of discoveries, from a wild tortoise to incredible pains au chocolates, to meeting an old friend. Baby Arthur loved it. The minute we stepped back in the house, he was pointing again at the window, asking, "where next?" For James and me, we finish this adventure delighted to have realized that we still have so much left to explore, and it is all less than 100km from our home. This bike and climb trip is only the first!
Imagine you're a climber in Germany; you have been working all week dreaming about a climbing weekend. The approaching forecast is perfect, and all that is left is deciding where to go and what to do. The answer for most of the German climbing community is easy, "let's go to the beautiful Frankenjura forest, enjoy some regional food and try some of the most popular and iconic routes in the world!"
The Frankenjura is a special place; it is home, where I was born, and I have been climbing here since a young age. Still, every week, I ask myself, which out of 900 crags should I visit next? I consider what classic route I'm missing or where I might find an inspiring new line to establish. The amount of rock seems endless, and there are so many small sectors, it never gets boring. Just when I think I have seen it all, something new surfaces to be climbed or explored. The infinite possibilities are precisely why this place is so special to me.
There is just one thing about the Frankenjura I always find odd. I can't understand why so many climbers come here and repeatedly climb in the same sectors when there are so many other possibilities. I always wonder, do they just really enjoy the polished rock, or is it something different fueling this odd habit? It even goes so far that a few classic crags will be completely overcrowded, while 90 percent of the sectors are empty and becoming dirtier and dirtier. To help you experience the region without the crowded crags, I want to introduce you to my favorite non-popular crags in the Frankenjura!
Well, it would be too hard to list all those, but here are at least some of them.
The route is a 7-pitch (8b), and 6-months after having a baby, the idea of achieving this was going to be my “I am back” diploma. When I chose it, I knew I was on my way back to fitness, and I had just figured out a rhythm where baby let me train and sleep a bit. Fitness isn’t everything, though I also needed focus, dedication, and the will to finish such a route. What I experienced as a young mum was a total shift of focus in my life. Every second of the day, part of my mind was on my little one – Does he need anything? Is he in danger? When baby Arthur was 6-months old, I couldn’t write a full text, read a book, or focus. I willingly disappeared behind “the veil of mum.” But I was hoping I would find my fully functional brain again, on top of my late abdominals.
Hidden Gem Crags
• Hätzerkirche: This is a nice spot with steep and powerful climbs. It includes about eight routes from (7a) to (8c+), most around 20-meters long.
• Zauppenberger Wand: Located deep in the woods, you will find this hidden 25-meter tall crag with a big roof in the middle of it. It has ten routes from (6b) to (8b+) and some fantastic projects waiting to be freed.
• Eibgrat: This includes two crags on either side of the hiking area by the same name. The crag on the south side has lots of easy routes from (5) to (7a). On the north side, you will find long routes between (7a) and (9a).
• Bleisteinwand: Freshly rebolted, this 25-meter tall wall has excellent face and crack climbs between (6a) - (7a+).
• Egloffsteiner Felsentor: With routes mostly ranging between grade (5) - (6), this 40-meter wall is high by Frankenjura standards. But it offers alpine characteristics on freshly rebolted routes.
• Folterkammer: Located in the middle of the Krottensee forest, you will find a medium popular crag with a wide variety of bouldery routes ranging from (6a) - (8b+).
• Grundfels: Located in the far east of the Frankenjura region, this area offers perfect hard lines. On the left side of the crag, you will find some routes in the (6b) range, while the main wall offers a lot of (7c) - (8c) gems.
• Clubbwall: This is a small hidden spot with beautiful surroundings. Here you will find routes on perfect rock ranging from (7a) - (8b+).
I recommend the Frankenjura guidebook by Sebastian Schwertner. The new edition with all the new and forgotten areas will appear this summer! Also, the app by frankenjura.com is quite helpful and always up to date. If you only speak English, the guidebook by Ulrich and Harald Röker has some translations so that you can find the spots more easily.
Concerning equipment, you can find anything you like in the Frankenjura. The most common style is classic well-bolted sport climbs, but not the type of 1-meter bolt ladders you sometimes find in places like France, for example. Climbers here bolt to make the first ascent, so everyone chooses how they want the route equipped. With this, you find a range of methods from lots of bolts for beginners to the more old-school sparsely bolted style. So, if you go for older routes, a rack of nuts is recommended and sometimes necessary.
The best season for climbing in Frankenjura is spring and autumn, when it is still dry, but the temperatures are cooler. Nevertheless, you can climb here year-round if you want. In winter, we take to hiding from the snow and cold under some lowball boulder problems. In summer, we typically just climb easier routes where friction isn't as necessary or wander through the woods figuring out new projects for when it is again cooler.
FRANKENJURA - CLIMBING FROM THE LOCALS
by Moritz Welt
4.0 minute read
FRANKENJURA - CLIMBING FROM THE LOCALS
by Moritz Welt
4.0 minute read
Where to sleep
In the last few years, there has been a lot of trouble with wild camping and local farmers, so I recommend visiting one of the local campsites. The classics for climbers are the Bärenschlucht Camping, directly underneath the famous crag, the Camping meadow Gute Einkehr in Morschreuth, and the infamous Oma Eichler Camping in Untertrubach.
If you prefer more comfort, finding a nice apartment anywhere you'd like to stay is easy. For the quintessential Frankenjura feel and a central location, I suggest visiting Egloffstein or Gössweinstein. Some of the restaurants mentioned below also offer nice rooms to stay.
Eat Drink and Meet Local Climbers
The Frankenjura is famous for its food and beer, including Schäuferla and Forelle and you can find local breweries and restaurants everywhere. Some worth stopping at are:
• Held Bräu in Oberailsfeld
• Gasthof Seitz in Bernheck
• Gasthof zum Signalstein in Hundsdorf
• Gasthof Mühlhäuser in Wannbach
Where to sleep
The most popular tent spots are next to the Gandalf wall and on Kalle. Both are within walking distance to some of the must-do routes I mentioned above and have individual benefits. Camping next to Gandalf allows you to be within walking distance to Henningsvær, where you can grab some food, beer, or ice cream between climbing. While at Kalle, you can benefit from the new toilet and showers and enjoy a beautiful little beach next to the camp. No matter where you camp, remember Lofoten is a busy tourist spot with a lot of traffic in nature. So, please do your part in helping to keep it beautiful and always leave your camp spot how you found it, or better yet, more pristine, even if that means picking up after others who left things behind.
Eat Drink and Meet Local Climbers
After a long day climbing, nothing tastes better than a beer and a burger in Henningsvær. I suggest Klatrekafeen, where you are sure to meet other climbers so you can share your successes for the day, or sit and listen to stories and some live music. If the weather is nice, you can't miss out on eating pizza at Trevarefabrikken, where you can enjoy the midnight sun and dance all night!