Heidenkammern, Heidenturm, Heidenpfeiler - three climbing dstinations located close to each others on three corners of the Heidenberg Mountain near Busenberg in the Südpfalz Area. Of these three Heidenpfeiler is the most popular and impressive one, in fact it is the tallest climbing cliff in the whole area. It is located to the east of the mountain and in typical Südpfalz fashion it peeps out of the mountain in form of what locally is called a massif. This massif, the sandstone crest which connects it to the mountain, in a straight line travels through the mountain, only to surface again west of its summit, where it forms a perfect counterpart to the Pfeiler (pillar), the Heidenkammern Cliff.
While lower than Heidenpfeiler, the Heidenkammern are much longer, forming a long, slightly curved ridge. The crag's real name is Buchkammerfels but thanks to Udo Daigger's and Hans-Jürgen Cron's climbing guidebook (see section below) the name has been redefined and the climbing community has gotten used to the Heidenhkammern denomination. Both names, however, have one thing in common: the Kammern or chambers, which indeed are the most interesting part about the cliff.
About 8m off the ground of the south face there is a door within the face, an opening to a cave, consisting of four chambers. The cave dates back to mediaeval times, when the cliff served as in some way as an extension to nearby Drachenfels Castle. Today one of the explanations is that the chambers served as an outpost or forecastle to Drachenfels. However, there also are signs that they might have been the castle dungeon. In recent times, they were used as a hideout and lookout position during WW II, from which time many a carving on the cave walls bears witness. The craters you find underneath the south face of the cliff were caused when French troops exploded the German bunkers, which had been built there.
For most of its crest Heidenkammern is a low cliff, which, however, culminates in a big pillar at its western end. Just like Heidenpfeiler to the east of the mountain, this western pillar consists of a big, slab-like lower part underneath a vertical top. The first climbs of the summit date back to 1970, while most of the routes were established in the mid 1980s. Thanks to the multitudes of hand- and footholds most routes are relatively easy. On the south face, however, there are a handfull of grade 7 routes, like Weg der Arbeit (7-), Heidenspaß (6+) or Heidenarbeit (7+). All these routes have been highly recommended by the aforementioned guidebook.
Climbing Routes on Heidenkammern
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.
The Heidenkammern cliff is a typical latecomer to climbing. Most routes were established in the 1980s, when the big routes on the better known towers were getting too popular. Also, the Südpfalz Region's biggest tower, Heidenpfeiler, is only 600m to the east and naturally attracted climbers first. Again, it was Hans Laub, who pioneered many of the routes here.
|Heidenkammern||Heidenkammern||15 routes with variations ranging from 2 - 7+|
A good trailhead for the Heidenkammern Cliff is PWV-Hütte Drachenfels, a kind of rustic restaurant / picnic area close to Drachenfels Castle. There is ample parking space around the hut. A bit to the east there is another parking lot near Weißensteiner Hof, a local farmstead. The access distance is similar.
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 Busenberg
- 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 Busenberg
- 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 Busenberg.
Red TapeThe 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 Busenberg you can find pensions, apartments and restaurants. Have a look at the official site for more info. There is a campground at Neudahner Weiher, north of Dahn, a second one west of Dahn. Both are about 10 km to the north-west of Busenberg. A third campground can be found at Bruchweiler-Bärenbach, about 7km to the south-west.
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