Elevation: 1,286 ft
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Shared By: Jesse Guthrie on May 7, 2008
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Elbsandstein is a large area of sandstone towers in East Germany. It is smaller than the Erzgebirge, and is separately defined because due to the difference in geological development. For a more detailed description, see the Erzgebirge page.
It is the single largest climbing area in Germany with 25,000+ routes which are exclusively on free-standing towers. Climbing on sandstone cliffs (not free-standing towers) is forbidden, as is the use of chalk and metallic protection such as stoppers and cams.
It is the triangular area with Pirna acting as the northwest corner and the other two corners on the border of the Czech Republic, one directly south and one directly east of Pirna.

Getting There

Go to Hohnstein and ask Bernd Arnold...

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JoergB   Germany
Best trad climbing area in Germany, worth visiting even from far away. About 1100 sandstone towers with more than 17000 routes.
-No chalk
-No metallic pro, no friends or nuts, knots and slings only.
-Toprope is deprechiated, the rock is very soft and easily damaged.
-No climbing on wet rock.
Route data bases and locals forums are found at teufelsturm.de and
sandsteinklettern.de/gebiet… (german) Mar 11, 2009
A complete description in english You will find here:

It's a pity that precious few american trad climbing fans find the way to the Elbsandsteingebirge. It's one best trad climbing areas in the world and definitely the biggest of all. On both sides of the german/czech border there are about 20000 Routes of all grades (in words: twentythousand). There's enough to do for more than one live!

So all You trad climbing fans, You're welcome! Apr 16, 2009
I went here to do a film with Michael Strassman around 1993. We climbed with Bernd Arnold. Bernd belayed me. I was up on something that they SAID was only 5.11, I got scared about half way up and was shaking. I happen to look down and saw that Bernd was putting on belay gloves! miracously I made it to the next bolt. I then asked to be lowered :) Jan 29, 2010
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
The movie Hans is refering to is called "Rock: The Soul of the Climbing Experience". You can propbably get a cheap copy from Chessler A must see, classic of the genre.

There's a hilarious segment where a local is showing the Americans how to stuff knots in pockets with a stick and Hans is making all these sarcastic remarks like, "ya know, we got camming devices that'll work for that kinda stuff...I don't see what all the fuss is, put a 3/8" bolt right there, bomber! No wear on the rope, no extra stick, charge up the battery, put the hole right there..."

Classic! Jan 30, 2010
Petaluma California
stevecurtis   Petaluma California
I recently returned from 11 days climbing on the Elb. A few comments

I lived in Germany 6 years, and friends suggested I visit on many occasions. When I heard they'd take away my metal and chalk, and denigrate my tape gloves, I declined, thinking "stupid commie rules".

Well, the Elb abounds with silly rules, but I would highly recommend the experience. The rules are an attempt to keep the Elbsandsteingebirge a climbing museum. "Our Ompahs climbed 5.11 in 1925 without modern gear--so will you." For me, the climbing was extremely rewarding. I did things in reverse, figuring climbing above slings with knots was just soloing; later in the trip I went down a few grades, and learned to place decent knots (we tested them mid trip in the Phalz, and they all held great; they were backed up by bolts)

Like Hans, I found the conversion grades way stiff. Maybe it was the lack of chalk, or the soloing mentality. Jul 24, 2011
Shawn Heath
Forchheim, Germany
Shawn Heath   Forchheim, Germany  
I find the "Getting There" description horribly lacking. Unfortunately, he's right. If you want to climb here, your best bet is to learn German, go to a climbing shop, buy a map, hiking guide, climbing guide, and then maybe also hire somebody to show you where the route is you want to do. Another option is to get a climbing guide and just follow the maps therein and just enjoy the adventure. Don't worry about learning German because there is no explanation of how to get to the crags! You just have to walk around a lot until you figure it out. That is what the climbers in the area told me. The climbing guidebooks mostly only offer route descriptions. In order to find your way, you have to study the map.

As a result, if you go without a local, don't put too much on your program. I would recommend choosing an area to explore first. Take your guidebook and go for a day hike, studying where you are and when you see something interesting that you'd like to climb the next day or that afternoon, finish your hike and come back later with your gear.

Since I don't feel the locals do an adequate job providing any information (especially in English), if you come climbing here, please help develop this site for others to enjoy the area too. Apr 10, 2012
I had the chance to go there a few years ago when I was still a real gumby when it came to climbing on a rope. I was not able to do it right and go out with a guide so I missed out. After PRYING some info out of a climbing shop owner I found my way to a Klettergarten which is the only place you will find sport climbing. There are several of them around and they are like their gyms. Old rock quarries, chipped holds, but hey... it still feels like the sand stone the area is famous for! Overall, I think the area is uninviting to outsiders, and I'm German! The locals are very proud of their Elbsandsteingebierge. If you aren't comfortable jamming in knots find a guide to show you around.
For your off days; the area is super cool and there is a ton of stuff to see. Check out the local glider club in Pirna!! May 9, 2012
Does anyone know if there are any guidebooks either in English or German that are in print for this climbing area? I am trying to plan a trip to climb in this area. Every time I seem to find a guidebook for the area that can be purchased, it seems no one can find the book in stock or on the shelves. If the climbing area is really great, why are not in print guidebooks available? Nov 7, 2014
Shawn Heath
Forchheim, Germany
Shawn Heath   Forchheim, Germany  
If you're looking for a guidebook, go to the climbing shops and Globetrotter in Dresden to see the whole selection. Here are three available on Amazon right now:
amazon.de/Elbsandsteinf%C3%… Sep 15, 2015