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This posting is from a climbing usegroup written by James Singletary.

>... and he said there was a good crag about an hour
>away. I didn't catch the name of the place.

More than just a crag -- 14,000 odd routes within about an hour's travel.The valley system south and east of Dresden is called the ``Elbsandstein'' (the first part because they feed the river Elbe, the second part you can guess). It is a national park. Climbing has been active there for more than a century.

Here are the rules that I recall:

* Climbing is allowed anywhere in the park not specified otherwise (with words like ``Gesperrt'', ``Naturschutzgebiet'' or ``Eintritt Verboten'').

* Climbing is allowed only on free-standing pillars, and about three cliffs (``Massive''). This is part of an old compromise with conservationists. It is not a very restrictive compromise, because there are more than 1000 such pillars. If in doubt, look for the ring bolts (see below).

* NO CHALK ALLOWED. The sandstone is pretty porous, giving good friction, so this is not terribly restrictive.

* NO METAL PRO ALLOWED. You can use the bolts put in by the first ascentionists (generally solid, but a little sparse), use knotted cordage as chocks, tie off horns or ironrock plates with slings, or thread through ``Sanduhren'' (wormholes -- literally ``hourglasses'') as protection, but you can't use nuts, hexes, cams, etc. If you need to get such gear, it will be relatively cheap to buy an entire ``rack'' of  different diameter cordage and webbing at a local outfitter.

* No climbing allowed on wet rock.

Here are some miscellany:

* Bolts are called ``Ringe''. They are ring bolts about the size of  railroad spikes, hand-placed, often in an anchor of lead strips. Most belay stations are a single such bolt. You can rap from them if  necessary. There are few routes with a solid line of bolts -- even very `sporty' routes there might get an R rating were they in many places in the U.S. If this gets your pucker up (it sure did mine), start at a little lower grade.

* The first bolts were put in at stances. After 1965 or so, people were allowed to hang from slings while they put in bolts. So newer routes tend to be less run-out, but generally there is at least one section where you will not want to fall on any route.

* Rock quality varied from pillar-to-pillar, from sandy to fairly solid.

* About every free-standing pillar has routes up it. Rappelling is always necessary. Rap stations consist of a beefy ``O'', almost always every 25 m to the ground (you usually need only one).

* It's OK to drink a some beers in the national park. Just be friendly and pack out the bottles.

* You will likely see a lot of hikers and other climbers anywhere in the park. Unlike here, there people don't really gawk at climbers, so it's generally not a distraction.

* ``Bergheil!'' is a common greeting to other people at the top of a pillar.

Here are some logistics:

* If you don't have a car, you can take the local train (``S-Bahn'') south from Dresden towards Schoena. It runs about every half hour or so from morning to dark, and a few times at night. The train costs about 5 DM. more then 7 DM now It follows the Elbe, so you'll be limited to the areas near the river. These include Rauenstein, Baerenstein (?), Lillienstein and Hohenstein, the Rathenergebiet (rocks on the north side of the river near the town of  Rathen), and the Schrammsteingebiet (I can't remember where that is -- further down the river, and on the north side. You won't be able to get to some good areas by convenient mass transportation, including Polenztal, Falkenstein, and Bieletal (sp?). On the upside, taking the train allows allows you to get hammered on Jaegermeister at day's end and not have to drive back.

* You can cross the Elbe from the train station on ferries, near about every train stop. They cost 1 DM or so each way.

* There is a climbing shop at... Marktplatz, I think, called ``Globetrotter'' Ist in World Trade Center (Freiberger Strasse/Ammonstrasse) now (  That's downtown, less than a mile north (west) of the main train station. You can get guidebooks there (the guides come in several volumes -- pick an area) It’s a problem to get guidebooks. :-(., and maybe beta or a partner. There are also climbing shops in Hohenstein and I think Bad Schandau (one of the towns near the Czech border) owned by a famous climber names Bernd Arnold. These towns are pretty small -- you're likely to find the shops if you just take the train. I think you can get guides at either of these last two shops, for a reasonable price, if you want a partner and someone to show you around..

* It will help a lot if you speak some German. (
also for reading the rest of  these sites ;-)

Good luck,
James Singletary

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