Nordwandhalle is a Climbers’ mecca! Situated in the outskirts of the city center of Hamburg, Germany, this climbing gym offers everything a climber needs – bouldering, rope, autobelay, fitness area, gear shop and a café offering high quality (vegan) meals and coffee. Are you staying in Hamburg, this is the place to visit.
Recently I have paid Hamburg plenty of visits as my girlfriends is finishing up her studies in this German metropole. Hamburg has several climbing offers from the bouldering paradise, Flashh, to more low-key, low-scale gyms. We were planning a trip for El Chorro near Malaga for a few days of rock climbing and decided to increase the training load on rope as we usually practice bouldering, when I visit Hamburg. We chose Nordwandhalle as it is close to where my girlfriend lives and – per their website – offers what we were looking for.
An all-inclusive experience
Nordwandhalle is indeed an all-inclusive experience. The gym offers everything you need – well, except drytooling, but I did not expect that. The gym is situated in a huge atrium with lots of rope climbing walls. The gym has several walls with the highest section being around 18 meters. The walls have overhangs, slabs, corners and numerous other key features. Plenty of routes have several of these features making climbing in Nordwandhalle a climbing experience with loads of variety. The main attraction is an overhanging wall facing a huge window wall granting the gym excellent natural lighting, where the other walls are a bit darker, but never too dark. You have a constant feeling of openness and plenty of floor to move around, when you belay your partner. Speaking of the floor, it is made from a soft material making it a comfy experience as well.
In the far end of the gym several fixed ropes have been set up, but these are heavy and very thick making belaying a bit of pain if you are used to thinner ropes. They are typical 10 mm gym ropes, so I would recommend bringing your own, so you can enjoy the gym to its full extend. The wall is not very amusing as it only feature lower grades and the wall does not offer much feature. This is also where one of the gyms autobelays is found. I must admit that for such a huge gym, only having two autobelays is a miss – especially as the other one is placed in the beginners area. You cannot go rope climbing by yourself in Nordwandhalle, which is a real pity.
For leading, the walls are covered with fixed quickdraws with 1.5 meters between each. For each line, there are three routes in different grades ranging from grade 4 to grade 8. Some lines though, maybe have a 5c, 6a and a 7b, others a 4, 5a and a 6b. So there are plenty of routes to cover. Each route has a card explaining the grade both in UIAA and in the French grading system. The interpretation of the grade is pretty much what I would expect comparing to other climbing gyms I have visited, except Aarhus Klatreklub in Aarhus, where I reckon they generally tend to grade a bit harder than other gyms. We climbed in the range from 5c to 6c and the difficulty was sustained.
The Nordwandhalle climbing gym in Hamburg also features a beginners’ area with climbing walls up to around 10 meters. When we visited, that wall was closed off most the day due to beginners’ courses and kids’ climbing school, which are some of the additional offerings in Nordwandhalle.
We did not spend much time in the bouldering area. It is without doubt that Nordwandhalle is mostly a rope climbing place, but the bouldering area was pretty crowded as well. There are two areas, where the main area has roof sections, overhangs and several other really cool features with volumes, huge climbing holds as well as tiny ones.
The bouldering area cannot compete with the bouldering-only gym, Flashh, also in Hamburg. Nordwandhalle does not follow the Fontainebleau nor the Vermin/Hueco grading systems, which are the most common bouldering grading systems, but have added they own grades in between.
Spend the whole day
For the EUR 15.00 you pay for entrance you can practice both rope climbing and bouldering. For EUR 9.00 you can do bouldering only. Besides one day tickes Nordwandhalle offers a broad selection of timebased subscriptions.
There are so many corners of Nordwandhalle to explore. One of them is the café. It offers very cheap, but very high quality meals such as spaghetti, salads, espresso, soda, fruit, burgers etc. All homemade and several meals are vegan, lactose free or gluten free.
Restrooms and locker rooms are clean and neat with showers and everything. Generally, the Nordwandhalle climbing gym seems well-organized and very professional operated. We came a Sunday afternoon and even though there were a lot of people it did not seem overcrowded and there were no waiting time near the wall as in Flashh also in Hamburg, where you might just leave again if you pay a visit in rush hour.
How to find Nordwandhalle?
The climbing gym is easy to find. It is situated next the swimming and indoor sports arena in Inselpark, which seems like a faily newly established part of the city. Just type in Am Inselpark 20, 21109 Hamburg in your GPS and you will be fine. Parking though is a problem. There is no parking immidiately next to Nordwandhalle, but a paid parking place 200 meters from the gym. You can also see if you can find a free spot in the surrounding neighborhood, but you should of course respect all the ‘Private Parking” signs.
Would I go again?
Yes! Definitely. If I lived in Hamburg I would live in Nordwandhalle. This is one of the few places I have visited that offers so much in one place. Go!
There are much more to say about Nordwandhalle in Hamburg, but why not visit the gym for yourself and leave your own experience below as a comment.