If there is a single climbing formation in the Südpfalz Climbing Area that displays all aspects of sandstone climbing, it is Bruchweiler Geierstein a standalone tower, which stretches for several hundred metres to the north of the village of Bruchweiler-Bärenbach deep inside the Pfälzerwald forest. While Asselstein and Rödelstein may have been the first cliffs to be climbed, while Münzfels and Jungturm may be the most popular ones and Teufelstisch certainly is the most beautiful formation, Bruchweiler Geierstein displays the longest history and greatest number of routes associated to any of the sandstone towers of the whole region. Also, it gained notoriety during the "Pfälzer Hakenstreit", a bolt war, which developed around a Wolfgang Güllich Route, Superlative. But let's start from the beginning.
And as always the beginning is very dark. Even before anyone thought of climbing Geierstein its climbing history might have already ended. For a long time the cliff was used as a quarry by the locals to cut stones for their homes. Even the wonderful north-east face, home to the aforementioned Superlative Route still bears witness to those dark ages. Fittingly they stretched far into the Third Reich until all such activity (as well as climbing) stopped during WW II.
Climbing had started one summer day in 1908. On July 13th three local climbers, A. Bauer, F. Jung and K. Petry, established the first four routes, making use of chimneys and ledges, which eventually led them to each of the three summits of Geierstein. Those summits are separated by wide chasms and the usual technique of the day - to jump from one rock to the other - could not be appied here. Three years later the Mann Bros., who during that period started their campaign to climb all important Südpfalz towers followed with their first route, returning only in 1923 during their most active time to complete four more routes on the crag. Their competitors E. Erbach and O. Mattheis had challenged them the year before by putting up their own route through the north face.
In the 1930s R. Scheiber established several routes with different partners but then WW II put a stop to all activity. In the 1950s several new routes went up and in the next decade one man wonder Hans Laub put up a whole set of new lines on all of the faces. The 1970s were the time of Wolfgang Güllich and his partner Thomas Nöltner, who put up the first routes in the eigth degree. Most famous is the route Superlative, which at the time was the most difficult free climb on Südpfalz sandstone. It gained notoriety later on (see next section). During the 1990s and the current decade quite a number of very difficult routes have been established indicating that the times of first ascents on the crag are not over yet.
Superlative has been the focal point of one of the most serious bolt wars in Südpfalz history. Güllich and Nöltner had established the route by drilling bolts and prospecting possible lines while dangling from those bolts. Güllich wasn't able to find a solution to the crux but Nöltner finally came up with an elegant line. In the end the two partners left a handful of bolts in the wall, the first one 7m above the ground. At the time - in 1978 - this procedure was already deemed unclean so that pretty soon after the climb the original bolts were chopped. They got reestablished and several iterations later someone poured oil across the whole starting pitch, basically making climbing the route impossible. A lot of cleaning and a rigorous bolting campaign later, Superlative today has twice as many protection rings as Güllich and Nööltner left which finally makes the route one of the most popular ones, even though it is still rated a solid 8.
Climbing Routes on Bruchweiler Geierstein
The following table has a link to the tour database of the PK, where you can find the grades for the free routes plus additional information. Here is the link to the complete route database.
The size of this table stands in stark contrast to the importance of the tower. The number of documented routes speaks a different language. There are 84 routes, which are described in the climbing guidebook and no doubt many more, especially variations have been established without the knowledge of the authors.
There is no sandstone formation in the whole Südpfalz Region, which has so many routes of very high difficulties - i.e higher than grade 7. Here on Geierstein you can find
- 1 route graded 10-
- 2 routes rated 9/9+
- 5 routes rated 8- - 8+
- 10 routes rated 7- - 7+
The first recorded climb of Geierstein was established in 1908 by A. Bauer, F. Jung and K. Petry along what today is called the normal route. They established three more routes onto all three features of Geierstein on the same day, July 13th 1908. Later in 1911 and 1923 the Mann Brothers, famous Südpfalz pioneers followed with their handful of first ascents and in the 1930s R. Scheiber and E.Ernst established another half dozen of early routes. From the 50s onwards FAs exploded on the rock to lead to today's formidable number of lines.
|Bruchweiler Geierstein||Geierstein||84 routes with variations ranging from 1 - 10-|
Geierstein is located to the north of Bruchweiler-Bärenbach. To reach the village, follow one of the following itineraries (from the closest airports).
From FrankfurtThere are two possible routes which both take equally long
- Via Ludwigshafen
- From Frankfurt take motorway A5 southward to Darmstadt.
- There change to A67 south.
- At Viernheimer Dreieck turn onto A6 west. Leav
- e it at Frankenthaler Kreuz for A61 south.
- At Mutterstädter Kreuz take A65 south until you reach Landau.
- At Landau turn on B10 west.
- At Hinterweidental turn onto B427 south which will take you through Dahn to Bruchweiler-Bärenbach
- Via Kaiserslautern
- From Frankfurt take motorway A3 west
- At Mönchhofdreieck turn onto A67 south
- At Rüsselsheimer Dreieck take A60 west
- At Kreuz Mainz Süd take A63 south
- At Kreuz Kaiserslautern turn onto A6 west
- At Kreuz Landstuhl turn onto A62 south
- At Pirmasens turn onto B10 east
- At Hinterweidental take B427 south to Bruchweiler Bärenbach
- Take motorway A8 to Karlsruhe
- At Karlsruher Dreieck turn north onto A5
- Tke the next exit to head for A65
- At Kandel you can leave onto B427 which will lead you directly to the north of Bruchweiler Bärenbach. At the intersection with L489 turn south to get to the village.
The sandstone of Südpfalz forms lots of caves and overhangs. Though this makes it most interesting for climbers, two species of birds of prey compete for this habitat: the peregrine falcons and the eagle owls. Both are endangered and wherever there is a eagle owl pair found nesting in the sandstone the crag will immediately be closed. Generally this closure lasts from the beginning of each year through Aug. 1st. If breeding is not successful the closures will be canceled even before that date. For a list of closures see the Closure List of PK.
The use of magnesia is not allowed in the whole Südpfalz region. This is rather a directive or an arrangement than an outright law. Thus you probably will get away with using it but do so only when absolutely necessary. Magnesia closes the pores which you find in the sandstone and together they form a smooth surface which will get very slippery in wet conditions. The rule of thumb is to use magnesia in the highest difficulty sections and only extremely sparingly.
A list of guidelines can be found here (in German).
AccommodationIn the two villages of Bruchweiler and Bärenbach you can find pensions, apartments and restaurants. Have a look at the official site for more info. There is a campground in the village, and the one at Neudahner Weiher, north of Dahn is not far.
Maps & Books
As for maps there is a good overview map (1:50000) by Kompass Verlag but the best ones are the official topographic maps by the state government of Rheinland Pfalz, scaled 1:50000, 1:25000 and 1:5000. All official maps can be found on the web page of Landesvermessungsamt Rheinland Pfalz
- Naturpark Pfälzer Wald
Kompass Map WK766
- Pirmasens Süd
LVA RLP Map L6910
LVA RLP Map 6812
There are a number of climbing guidebooks on the region of Südpfalz. The best ones, however, have been published privately and are sold only in selected bookshops of the region.
B. & J.-Th. Titz
- Klettern im Buntsandstein
U. Daigger, H.-J. Cron
Westpfälzische Verlagsdruckerei St. Ingbert
- Pfalz - Klettern im Buntsandstein des Pfälzer Felsenlands
J. Richter, S. Tittel
- Pfalz ++, Klettern im Buntsandstein
R. Burkard, P. Weinrich
- Klettern im Naturpark Pfälzerwald
- Pfalz & Nordvogesen en bloc
A. Wenner, Y. Corby, I. Bald