The Rocks of Adršpach introduction
The Prussian King Frederick the Great said this: " Who has not seen the rocks of Adršpach, the Royal Chapel in Grussau, and the Ossuary in Sedlec, has never yet laid eyes on the nature, splendour, or art". I have to admit that I have not seen the mentioned chapel, but the ossuary is Sedlec is truly amazing.
In 1800 John Quincy Adams, later President of the United States, was travelling in the area. He described Adršpach in his book "Letters of Silesia" as follows: "Adršpach is remarkable for its great number of free standing rock formations, oddly group or isolated, rocks such as I have never seen before....
The place is a popular destination for hikers and climbers, and in the winter for cross country skiers. We used to go there for school trips.
This was my first climbing trip to the area, and my third visit to Adršpach rocks. I heard so much about it, and had to experience it on my own. This rock climbing area was also portrayed in the american film "The Sharp End". So, and what did I say:" This place is truly an amazing climbing destination, but crazyy...nearly no protection, and some towers have only one or two rings, sometimes the first clip in is not until 10 meters - 30 feet high up. You are lucky if you survive without major injuries".
Location and map
The drive takes a long time since the roads are small with many curves. It took us nearly 4 hrs from Brno on a busy Friday. There are many polish signs around since it is located nearly on the border with Poland. Historically, the area was inhabited by Germans, and the first climbers were German.
The map is a map of the Czech Republic. Poland would be to the north, Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. Europeans, please forgive me for this basic information, but trust me, after living in USA for many years, most Americans have no clue...
Rock climbing in Adršbach
The first ascents on the rocks of Adršpach were made in 1923 by German climbers. And the fist tower they climbed was called the King. Local inhabitants watched in amazement as they accomplished the climb, with just one fall by the first climber, who had just luckily inserted a protection ring.
The sandstone is very popular climbing destination, and the closeness of towers developed into another sport discipline - tower jumping. I could not convinced Michal to demonstrate it, and photograph him. His friend broke his ankle last year while jumping from one tower onto another one. Just try landing in rock climbing shoes, not the softest landing you can get...
I heard so much about this climbing area, and could not wait to experience it on my own. I went way past my expectations. We climbed the first day at Křižák, and two days in Adršpach, and even on a busy holiday weekend, we found peace, solitude, and more towers to climb than my imagination could reach. I wish to visit again, and hope for more sunny days in the future.
Adršpach on YouTube
Why not a helmet?
Křižák or Křížový Vrch
667 meters high, Křížový Vrch is a natural reserve located near the village of Dolní Adršpach, just across from the Adršpach rocks. There is a path with the stations of the cross leading to its top, therefore the name Křížový, which means Cross Peak.
The Křižák is accessible by following a yellow tourist mark from Dolní Adršpach in the direction Zdonov. It is a popular rock climbing destination wit more than 1,000 routes. The rock is a soft bohemian sandstone.
The climbing guide to Křižák published unfortunately only in Czech is better than to Adršpach, probably since the area is smaller, and it made it easier to draw small plans of each tower. I think that for the introduction to the area, Křižák is a good place to start up. The type of sandstone is the same for both Adršpach and Křižák.
You Tube Křižák
Climbing rules, regulations
Climbing season is from July 1st to November 30th in Adršpach, the entry area and the Lovers area is open from 1st of May.
Křižák is open year round, but you will encounter a lot of snow during the winter.
1. You can climb only if you are a member of Czech climbing club = CHS, or if you are accompanied by a member of CHS. Foreigners can buy a membership to CHS. MEMBERSHIP TO CHS
2. It is not allowed to change in any way the surface of the rock, e.g. rope scratching into the sandstone, cutting out handholds or footsteps.
3. You are not allowed to use any hexes, nuts, or cams. The only protection can be provided by placed rings, and in between you can place rope loops.
4. You are not allowed to climb on wet sandstone.
5. You are not allowed to climb with boots which have a hard sole damaging the sandstone.
6. You are not allowed to use magnesium - chalk.
7. Climbers are required to carry with them their membership card to CHS.
8. Climbers are asked to inform local authorities about bird nestings.
9. and some more minor things, which seem pretty obvious, e.g. leave no trace, follow the climbers path.
I could not find any information in English, so translated from the Czech website. RULES IN CZECH HERE
Village of Dolni Adršpach has several hotel/hostel type of accommodations. Hostel is "penzion" in Czech. Most are around 300 to 500 czech crowns per person per night, which is about 15 to 25 US dollars. Some more expensive places can go up to 80 dollars per person per night, e.g. Hotel Javor. Breakfast is typically included, and rich. Soy milk is not available, so I had to survive with cows milk latte.
I would recommend to make an advanced reservation if you are planning to stay in a hotel. Summer weekends get full.
Most climbers sleep on the open meadow right next to the main parking area. Sleeping outside is officially prohibited, but accepted since everybody does that. You can even pitch a tent there after 7 pm, and you have to take it down before 9 am. There are two picnic shelters on this meadow. These tend to get full. I did spend one wonderful night inside the shelter, and one on the meadow. The morning dew was thick and my sleeping bag got damp, and also had several slugs on it. I am afraid that I accidently smashed at least one slug during the night. Poor slug... Bug spray is very useful unless you are planning to feed a herd of mosquitoes.
The closest town is Teplice nad Metují,located about 5 km southeast. There are several hostels along the road between Teplice and Adršpach, including an official camping area. This camping area looked very unappealing, right next to the road with no trees or shade.
You can probably sneak inside the rock, and find some spot between the towers. Again, this is not officially allowed, but the rock maze is so huge that you should be pretty much unseen.
Links to some hotels:
This is one of the more expensive hotels in the area. My niece and my son stayed there, while I was paying for it, and "roughing it" on the meadow. The breakfast was huge, and the garlic soup, which I ate every night,was excellent.
Hotel Skalni Mlyn
A cheaper option for accommodation. I have not stayed there, and did not eat there. This hotel is perhaps one mile from the main area, but there are some southern Adršpach rocks just behind this hotel. The walk to the main area is easy along a nice path.
Penzion Pod Hradem
This place has one of the best location. I did not check it inside, but from the outside looked beautiful. Very close to the climbing areas, and the "must to visit pub" is right next to it.
I would like to mention that there is a public shower for 20 czech crowns - 1 US dollar, available at the entrance to the rocks for those who are sleeping on the meadow.
A pub not to be missed
A pub "U Tošováka" is very popular with climbers. Its decor is very interesting with some old photos of rock climbing and jumping, and some old equipment. It has two rooms indoor, and a nice terrace with the view of Adršpach rocks. I would highly recommend this place for finding out more about the climbing area. I am pretty sure that you would run into some English speaking climbers over here.
The food is a typical czech pub food, which means not very good and healthy. It is cheap, roughly 3 to 4 dollars per meal, beer is excellent. The vegetarian options are not great. Czechs love fried food, so fried breaded cheese with french fries would be an unhealthy vegetarian option, my son liked it. I tried "šopský salád", which is basically salat with some balkan cheese on it. It was good. I also had fruit dumplings, a czech specialty. You get dumplings filled with fruit. The traditional czech dish would be pork meat with dumplings and sauerkraut.
Sand Mine Lake
The Sand Mine Lake, or Piskovna in Czech, is an arteficially created lake located at the entrance to the rocks. It is beautiful, filled with carps, and full of ducks. There is a rental boat area at the entry as well, and you can either rent a rowing boat or a small kayak. It is relatively cheap - 50 czech crowns per boat per person = 2.5 dollars.
Officially, there is no swimming allowed, but after the park s the official hours are gone, many climbers and kids love to jump in. The water is very refreshing and swimming suits are optional.
The multitude and the proximity of the rock towers lead to a development of a new sport discipline over here - tower jumping. The jumps are rated from 1 to 5 based on its difficulty and length. I did maybe a 0.5 jump - haha. I have to admit that I found landing in rock climbing shoes king of hard, and broken ankles are a common result.
A little bigger jump
The best trailer on YouTube
A pretty unknown area
The Czech republic is pretty small, and not a major destination for climbers. The local sandstone was caught in the american film "The Sharp End" together with Yosemity, Indian Creek, Diamond wall on Longs Peak.
Trailer Sharp End
At to end this writing, I think that this is one of the best climbing areas I ever climbed in. Definitively, a hard place to get dissappointed. You should have fun even if you may end up with a broken leg.