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Rheinland Pfalz, Germany, Europe
Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope
Spring, Summer, Fall
951 ft / 290 m
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Created On: Nov 14, 2009
Last Edited On: May 14, 2012


The rocks are closed to climbing due to peregrine falcon breding until August 2012.

East face of DoppelgipfelDoppelgipfel east face

The sandstone formations of Retschelfelsen near Bruchweiler-Bärenbach in the Südpfalz Climbing Region don't belong to the best known of crags of the area. However, they have contributed greatly to the local climbing history with a big number of incredibly difficult routes on the north face of the westernmost formation, Retschelgrat. Retschelfelsen consist of three formations, Doppelgipfel (twin summit), Hauptgipfel (main summit) and Retschelgrat, a low ridge. Generally, the south faces of the three formations are taller than the north faces, why most of the routes on the two summits have been established there.
Ledge view
Retschelfelsen Doppelgipfel south face
Hauptgipfel Roofed face

The exploration of the formations started in 1907, when Emil Ney and Ernst Schlemmer established the normal routes (still used today) to Doppelgipfel and Hauptgipfel. In the 1950s and 1960s Hans Laub and guidebook authors Udo Daigger and Hans-Jürgen Cron put up the bulk of the routes on the two towers, virtually ignoring the low Retschelgrat, which appeared like an appendix to the more interseting formations. Wolfgang Güllich and Thomas Nöltner Were the first ones to venture there when they established Gemeinschaftsweg (7- E1/E2) in 1977.
Retschelfelsen Doppelgipfel south face
Retschelfelsen Doppelgipfel south face

But with the advent of sports climbing everything changed. Suddenly the overhanging roofs of the Retschelfelsen north face became interesting and sport climbers started to "build" their routes. Florian Eigler, Steffen Frey and Jens Richter became the most important pioneers of the new era. Routes reached difficulties of 9 and 10 with TNT (10+) being the test piece for quite some time. After the logical lines had been exhausted, climbers started to combine the route. Gambaxplosion (10+/11-) by Lutz Limburg being the first and still most popular one. Today, some 15 route combinations criss cross the north face and there seems to be no end in sight.

Climbing Routes on Retschelfelsen

Hauptgipfel south faceHauptgipfel south face with roof

As mentioned in the overview section the first climb of the formation occurred as early as 1907 by Emil Ney and Ernst Schlemmer. A second wave of exploration took place in the 1960s but most routes have been established in the 1990s and 2000s, especially on the north face of Retschelgrat. There are numerous routes which reach grade 10 and a lot of high power combinations (enchainments) of the most difficult routes.

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.

FeatureRoutes linkSummary
Retschelfelsen DoppelgipfelDoppelgipfel10 routes with variations ranging from 2 - 7-
Retschelfelsen HauptgipfelHauptgipfel21 routes with variations ranging from 3 - 8+
Retschelfelsen RetschelgratRetschelgrat18 routes with variations ranging from 1 - 10+, Combinations up to 11-(!)

Getting There

The shortest access to Retschelfels is from Bruchweiler-Bärenbach, which you can reach by one of the following itineraries (from the closest airports).

From Frankfurt

There are two possible routes which both take equally long
  1. Via Ludwigshafen
    • From Frankfurt take motorway A5 southward to Darmstadt.
    • There change to A67 south.
    • At Viernheimer Dreieck turn onto A6 west.
    • Leave 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
    • Cross the railway tracks into the village, turn north for 300m, then left ino Lauterstrasse, right into Dorfstrasse and left again into Fabrikstrasse. There is a parking lot near the local shoe factory.
  2. 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
    • Cross the railway tracks into the village, turn north for 300m, then left ino Lauterstrasse, right into Dorfstrasse and left again into Fabrikstrasse. There is a parking lot near the local shoe factory.

From Stuttgart

  • 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.
  • Cross the railway tracks into the village, turn north for 300m, then left ino Lauterstrasse, right into Dorfstrasse and left again into Fabrikstrasse. There is a parking lot near the local shoe factory.

Red Tape

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).


In the two villages of Bruchweiler and Bärenbach you can find hotels, 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.

Weather Conditions

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
    ISBN: 3-85491-523-3
  • Pirmasens Süd<
    LVA RLP Map L6910
    ISBN: 3-89637-193-2

  • Dahn
    LVA RLP Map 6812
    ISBN: 3-89637-147-9


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.
    • Pfälzerwald
      B. & J.-Th. Titz
      Rother Verlag
      ISBN: 3-7633-4268-0

    Climbing Guidebook

    • Klettern im Buntsandstein
      U. Daigger, H.-J. Cron
      Westpfälzische Verlagsdruckerei St. Ingbert
      ISBN: 3-00-0155457-4
    • Pfalz - Klettern im Buntsandstein des Pfälzer Felsenlands
      J. Richter, S. Tittel
      Panico Alpinverlag
      ISBN: 978-3-936740-41-7
    • Pfalz ++, Klettern im Buntsandstein
      R. Burkard, P. Weinrich
      Published privately
    • Klettern im Naturpark Pfälzerwald
      Naturfreunde Lambrecht
      Published privately

  • Pfalz & Nordvogesen en bloc
    A. Wenner, Y. Corby, I. Bald
    Panico Verlag
    ISBN: 3-936740-19-4