Asselstein east face
Asselstein is one of the sandstone climbing crags of the Südpfalz region
, which has a long climbing history. Actually - if you come to think of it - it might have the longest climbing history of them all. However ,this history has its ups and downs, thanks to the techniques employed to get to its top. In June 1860 the tall cliff was first ascended with the help of ladders and tree trunks which were leaned against its south face. In 1909 Emil Ney, Ernst Schlemmer and Rudolf Schonger succeeded in the first clean ascent without heavy aid and chipping but not before a fixed cable had been laid along the south ridge which made Asselstein the home of (one of) the first Klettersteige (Ferrate) of Germany. Later on climbers chipped away parts of the rocks along the normal route to get better handholds. In short - Asselstein is a typical example for the climbing wars and ethics during the first half of the twentieth century.
To get away from history and towards the crag itself: it is a solitary cliff standing on top of one of the hills of the Pfälzerwald area. It is located very close to Trifels Castle
, which apart from being home to another type of European history also is perched upon another beautiful climbing crag. Asselstein itself is a cliff of 200m length and about 60m height, very narrow as seen from the north-east or south-west. It is composed of several levels, the highest of which decomposes into three towers. These towers are located so close to each other that the cracks between them are used as difficult ascent routes. The lower levels also have their routes and the easiest route is a step-by-step ascent along the separate levels.
Today much of the cliff is closed at least for a part of the year. Peregrine falcons often nest in the south and west faces so that Asselstein is often closed between Jan 1st and Aug 1st. Moreover the trees close to its based have been allowed to grow that now only the topmost part is visible from afar. There are several spots where you can still get a fairly decent view - e.g. from Rehberg in the south, Trifels in the east and Rindsberg in the north-west.
At the eastern base of Asselstein you can find a hut, the Kletterhütte Asselstein
, a outdoors restaurant which caters to up to 100 people and which is a popular base for the Asselstein climbers.
Asselstein (left) and Trifels (right)
The following information is linked 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.
|Asselstein||Asselstein||46 routes with variations ranging from 3 - 9+|
The nearest international airports are Frankfurt/Main and Stuttgart. You can reach Trifels as follows:
- From Frankfurt
- Take motorway A5 southward in direction Karlsruhe.
- At Darmstadt switch to A65 (also southward).
- At the intersection"Viernheimer Dreieck" switch to A6 west.
- At the intersection "Kreuz Frankenthal" switch to A61 southward, which you have to leave two intersections later ("Kreuz Mutterstadt") onto A65 south.
- At the exit Landau-Nord leave the motorway and take B10 westwards.
- Leave B10 southward right after the second road tunnels after Annweiler.
- Follow the signs to Trifels until you reach the parking lot of Kletterhütte
- From Stuttgart
- Take motorway A8 to Karlsruhe.
- Here take motorway A5 northward for one exit and leave for A65, direction Landau.
- At the exit Landau-Nord leave onto B10 west.
Yes, there is red tape and lots of it. 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 cancelled even before that date. For a list of closures see the Closure List of PK
There is a large sign in front of Asselstein, which indicates the allowed routes. If in doubt, follow this sign. The proprietor of the Kletterhütte certainly can answer your questions as well.
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 or soapy in wet conditions. The rule of thumb is to use magnesia in the highest difficulty sections and only extremely sparingly.
There is a site for the area around Trifels, Trifelsland:
Lookup the weather conditions for the nearest cities, Pirmasens and Landau:
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
Bad Bergzabern, 6813, ISBN: 3-89637-148-7
- Naturpark Pfälzer Wald
Kompass Map WK766
- Bad Bergzabern
LVA RLP Map L6912
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
Published privately and out of print
- Pfalz ++, Klettern im Buntsandstein
R. Burkard, P. Weinrich
- Klettern im Naturpark Pfälzerwald
- Pfalz & Nordvogesen en bloc
A. Wenner, Y. Corby, I. Bald