Hidden deep underneath the forest canopy east of the village of Erfweiler there are two of the best known, maybe even most popular, climbing cliffs of the Südpfalz Region, the Schafsfelsen. In contrast to most other cliffs these two are freestanding crags, separated by a distance of some 15m. The eastern one - Schäferturm - is an impressive tower of some 30m height, consisting of a broad base with a smaller summit structure on top. Apart from the trees between which it is hidden, access to the base tower is easy. On its north side the tower shows some large mossy patches which make climbing difficult in wet conditions.
The other of the two crags is a large, blocky, L-shaped cliff, with several separate summits. In the east you can find the so-called Schandarie Vorgipfel, a separate side summit to the highest point of the cliff, Schandarie. This latter summit is a picturesque, bizarre looking tower, very popular for photographers but unfortunately closed to climbing. Several years ago the top of this tower started to become loose and since the whole cliff has been declared "nature monument" the Schandarie tower has been declared off-limits. It wasn't always that way as the historical photo to the right proves. Between the Schandarie summit and the western end of the cliff, the so-called Holderturm there is a connecting ridge (Verbindungsgrat), which - thanks to its width - offers quite a number of separate climbing routes.
The Schaffelsen cliffs have been popular climbing destinations very early on. Many of the routes date back to the heydays of Südpfalz climbing, the first two decades of the 20th century. The list of the first ascencionists is a who-is-who of the Südpfalz climbers of the day, climbers, whose names today can be found in many a name of the cliffs of the area: Fritz Mann, Theo Mann, Ernst Schlemmer, Emil Ney, Friedrich Jung. If you click the names you will be directed to a picture of the respective cliffs, named after those men.
Climbing Routes to the Schaffelsen Cliffs
Rather than reprinting the copyrighted information from the site of the Vereinigung Pfälzer Kletterer I link to their routes database directly with some summary info. Here is the link to the complete database.
|Schäfersturm||Schäfersturm||5 routes with variations ranging from 2 - 6|
|Schandarie, Verbindungsggrat, Holderturm||Schandarie, Verbindungsggrat, Holderturm||39 routes with variations ranging from 2 - 6+|
Getting ThereThe Schafsfelsen cliffs are located south-east of Erfweiler, a 15 minute hike from the last houses at the end of the village. The crags are very well hidden benath the forest and you can easily miss them. I only found them when I heard the clinking of climbing gear on rock, though I was only steps away.
Erfweiler is hidden very deep inside Pfälzerwald and thus the itineraries are a bit longish. The closest airports are at Frankfurt and Stuttgart so the itineraries start there too.
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 to Dahn.
- In Dahn, after you have driven around Jungfernsprung there is an intersection directly in the town centre. Turn off left onto K39 which takes you to Erfweiler.
- 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 Dahn
- In Dahn turn onto K39 to Erfweiler
- In Erfweiler go straight on to the parking lot at the end of the village
- 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 Dahn where you can turn right onto K39 to Erfweiler. However the detour to Landau and B10 (see above) will take less time as the roads are better (three or four lanes)
Red TapeThe Schandarie summit is closed at all times due to the danger of collapsing. Excepting this the general regulation for the Südpfalz cliffs apply.
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 (see section above) and the eagle owls. Both are endangered and wherever there is a eagle owl or peregrine falcon 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 cancelled even before that date. For a list of closures see the Closure List of PK. However, if you find "Stop" signs on the access routes to the crags, please don't go there! Peregrines seem to be on the rebound from what I can tell and that's definitely good news!
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).
AccommodationYou can find hotels and apartments in Erfweiler and in neighbouring Dahn. Have a look at the following links:
There are two campgrounds, one in Dahn at Neudahner Weiher one in nearby Bruchweiler-Bärenbach.
Also, the crag is only about 30min away from Bärenbrunnerhhof, a farm where climbers are welcome (food, drink, even camping).
Weather ConditionsThe closest available weather information is the one for Pirmasens (20km to the north-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
Here are a number of climbing guidebooks on the region of Südpfalz. The best one is the one by U. Daigger and H.-J. Cron, complete with many topos. However, it is hard to get by and often out of print almost immediately after a new edition has been published. Currently it is available here.
B. & J.-Th. Titz
- Klettern im Buntsandstein
U. Daigger, H.-J. Cron
Westpfälzische Verlagsdruckerei St. Ingbert
- Pfalz ++, Klettern im Buntsandstein
R. Burkard, P. Weinrich
- Klettern im Naturpark Pfälzerwald
- Pfalz & Nordvogesen en bloc
A. Wenner, Y. Corby, I. Bald