Want to spend a whole day enduring mixed trad and sport climbing? Leupoldsteiner Wand in Frankenjura is the choice for you if you find yourself in the area. The crag has about 40 different routes in different grades to choose from!
Frankenjura is located near Nürnberg in the southeastern corner of Germany. It is one of the biggest climbing spots in central Europe with thousands of routes to explore. The area has a wide variety of traditional, sport and mixed climbing routes, however 99% of these are single pitches. You will find everything from grade 4 to grade 8 with steep polished walls, roofs, overhangs, slabs – basically everything. There are only a few multi-pitch crags in the northern parts of Frankenjura. It is cheap to stay, and easy to get to from most countries in Europe. Personally, Frankenjura is one of my favourite spots due to its vast amount of crags – there are simply something for everyone, being a beginner or a climbing guru!
We stayed at the Gasthof Eichler (german for Tavern), where we at rented a two double-bed room for 14 euro per person per night. We shared a really nice kitchen and toilet with bath with other climbers that was staying at the Gasthof, which also offer even cheaper camping. There are other Gasthofs and camping sites around Frankenjura, but Gasthof Eichler in particular is a nice base camp as it is located centrally and there are a far amount of crags nearby – some that we can actually walk to in under 15 minutes.
We went to Leupoldsteiner Wand on the last day of a three day climbing trip to Frankenjura as we just wanted a few hours of morning sport climbing before heading home to Denmark, but we ended up spending most of the afternoon as well. You can easily spend a whole day here – and even come back for more climbing two days in a row. The crag consists of three rock formations all with mixed trad and sport climbing routes up to 14 meters ranging from grade 4 to 8b. There are about 40 routes in total of which most are sport climbing routes
Finding Leupoldsteiner Wand is quite easy. From Gasthof Eichler head east on road ST2260 through Oberstrubach and follow the road uphill and follow the road for a couple of kilometers until you reach a crossing with a few hours to the left. This is route 2. Turn left and follow the road until you reach Leupoldstein after a couple of kilometers aswell. Follow route 2 into the village, and when the road makes a left bend just after Gasthof Alte Post, just follow the road straight ahead and make an immidiate right turn just after the house onto a dirt road. Follow the dirt road for a couple of hundred meters until you reach a parking space to the right under some trees. Leupoldsteiner Wand is a quite popular crag due to its diverse climbing possibilities and immense amount of routes, so you will probably see cars there. Leave the car, and follow the small trail into the forest by foot. After about 100 meters you are able to spot the limestone rock formations and you are there.
Check out the video below for a quick tour around some of the crags in Frankenjura. The video is however not from the trip where I visited Leupoldsteiner Wand, but other crags like Ruine Leienfels, Zehnersteiner amongst others.
We started the day at Leupoldsteiner Wand with ‘Jedermann’ (5a), an easy route to warm up. The group I went with had different rock climbing experiences, Ditte, who had only a few days of outdoor climbing experience, but loads of indoor, Kim, my girlfriend with even lesser outdoor experience, and Nicklas, a guy just did Half Dome in Yosemite this summer! And I guess I am somewhere in the middle of that. We decided to go with that particular route to get acquainted with the crag and also to set up a top roping route for Kim. The ‘Jedermann’ (5a) is really nice – not that particular hard, but for climbers with less outdoor experience this is an obvious choice. The route follows a huge vertical crack, and you find several huge jugs and very solid feet. The route is made of three plateaus that you climb onto. I would hover not recommend it for beginners in lead climbing, There are only two bolts to clip on the approximately 14 meter high route. I would imagine falling on this route is a big pain! you will definitely land on one of the plateaus, which can cause serious injury. The first after about 3 meters and the second about half-way through. So bring a couple of cams or wall-nuts, just in case. And oh, yeah – bring your own screw gate carabiners for the anchor. It is in horrible condition as it seems like people are top roping directly on the steel ring that makes up the anchor together with one bolt.
Once the ‘Jedermann’ (5a) was conquered we went for ‘Allmächt, schei’ (5c+). It starts with a couple of very hard, bouldering-ish moves, where you can really kill your forearms if you do not plan you climb carefully. And you can also hurt yourself very much. The first clip is about 3 meters up and what I reckon is the crux is just beneath this – so ask your belayer to spot you. There are a couple of pretty big boulders at ground level and you do not want hit your back on those. After you win this first section you find yourself standing on a huge boulder. Next couple of moves a series of tiny overhangs that you need to pass. You will find another bolt to clip here. The difficulty of the climb is pretty sustained and I would not call this a 5c+. The distance between the clips adds to the challenge and you do not want to do any over-courageous moves here. You will hurt yourself! There is an old sling a couple of meters about the second clip, but whether you want to trust that – well that’s your call! I would recommend bringing trad gear. Once over the overhangs you need to do traverse across a quite smooth slabby surface. This is not hard, but the feet are quite small, so it is all about balance. The anchor is placed just above this. This route proves the versatility about sport climbing at the Leupoldsteiner Wand crag. It has both strong pulling moves, overhangs and polished slabs. That makes it a nice experience, but be careful.
After a couple of rounds on ‘Nasdravi’ (5c) and ‘Außenseiter’ (5b) we did the ‘La belle du jour’ (5a). This is a very easy climb and it is very well bolted, so I would recommend it for first-time outdoor lead climbers. It also takes you to the highest point of Leupoldsteiner Wand with its 20 meters. All the way through the route has good handholds such as jugs and edges. You climb to several ledges, so you can a couple of breaks during the climb. The crux is places at the very top with a small overhang, where you can pass it head on, or pass it by climbing to the right.
Nicklas and I decided to go something a bit harder, so we left the main wall and went to one the smaller sectors of the crag. We went for the ‘Vertigo’ (6a), a full overhanging route with hundreds of pockets and dozens of jugs. This is a very nice route and visiting Leupolderstein Wand this is definitely a route you should give a go! It is pretty well bolted all the way and the full overhang is a nice challenge. Kim climbed the ‘Jägersteieg’ (4) just next to it and shot some awesome pictures! The belayer stands on the top of a couple of huge boulders on the ground, so when Nicklas did his first climb I felt more comfortable setting up a belay station by placing a couple of cams attached to me with a couple of dyneema slings, should I slip and fall between the boulders. The crux of the ‘Vertigo’ (6a) is just below the anchor, where the overhang becomes a bit steeper.
We finished off the day with ‘Servus Norbert’ (5c) and ‘Chakalaka’ (5b), which are nicely bolted on a tower to the furthest right of the crag. These are very good fun! The tower has four routes, all with the same starting point, and all share the same three bolts. The both start from the same base, but then separates into two distinct, short routes of maybe 8-10 meters. They feature some quite athletic moves, where you need endurance, strength and flexibility. The crux of ‘Servus Norbert’ (5c) sits just when the route turns left from the other routes, and you need to traverse to the final section of the route that leads you straight up to the anchor. There are a huge side-pull that you need to reach, but you will can quickly become off balance, when you go for it. The ‘Servus Norbert’ (5c) though, breaks right and goes onto a quite polished and smooth face, where you only have a few two-finger pockets. There is a crack running vertical on the face right of the bolts that you can side-pull on. I did that and that tactic proved quite beneficial. Reaching the anchor from here requires balance and patience as you need to move back onto the face and grab the few small pockets.
Leupoldsteiner Wand in Frankenjura is a visit worth. You can easily spend the whole day here – or two for that matter! There are plenty of routes with a very diverse repertoire of climbing techniques and styles required as well as very different grades. There is something for everyone! Just remember that some of the routes a mixed trad, so you need to bring gear for that – and on some of the sport climbing routes the climbs are so distant apart that bringing a few cams or wall-nuts for extra safety is not such a bad idea. You also need to bring you own screw-gate carabiners if you want to top rope as some of the anchors are a bit damaged from people top roping directly on the steel rings.
Do you as impressed about Leupoldsteiner Wand as I am, or do you know of better places in Frankenjura to spend a whole day rock climbing, leave a comment below.