Odenwald, Germany

Odenwald, Germany

Odenwald is a funny term once you get there, relating to a low mountain range in the west of Germany. The daft thing is that no-one ever seems to use the term.

I suspected it was a little like Snowdonia National Park or Foret Dominale de Fontainebleau in that it didn’t relate to a town or specific area, more a national park or such and in some ways, that is correct. The crucial part is, though, that people may not particularly know what you’re on about if you mention that is where you’re going.

This is, quite frankly, a crying shame. I acquired a guidebook called Odenwald Bouldering back in 2013 and I must admit it took me a surprisingly long time before I even deciphered where it was for. For a country lacking quality outdoor bouldering spots, the Germans should really be making more of an effort here.

My guidebook covered crags to the east of Mannheim, and we based ourselves for our short trip around the town of Bensheim. With little or no obvious information about bouldering in the area available online, i trusted my instincts and figured that the one crag covering 50 pages of guidebook was a safe bet. Much better than the hadn drawn double page spread further south.

Felsenmeer didn’t dissapoint and reminded me very much of Kjugekull in southern Sweden; only perched on a hill with a substantial amount of ascent needed to get to the good bits. It was worth every step.

While Odenwald may lack a little as a dedicated bouldering destination in of itself, for anyone destined for the Alps from the low countries of northern Europe, it is a thoroughly recommended place to stop. You may even not want to carry on south.

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Do British #climbers really go abroad to #climb at much? It's something I was discussing with a friend this evening and it's made me wonder. The popular spots are obvious destinations – font, magic wood – these places will always attract attention. But places like #odenwald and crags like #felsenmeer will probably never get the attention they deserve. The #birthdaytradition to spend my birthday in a different country every year was designed to get me to explore and it has done exactly that. It's meant I've done exactly that and found gems like this all over the continent. More than that, it's meant I've learnt about other places, people and cultures. For that alone, I'll always be pleased and always encourage everyone to check out somewhere they've never heard of. #germanbouldering #deutschland #klettern #escalada #escalade #grimpeur #rockclimbing #bouldering #bouldering_pictures_of_instagram #climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbinglife #climbing_is_my_passion @plasybreninstaff

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The Areas

I do wish i had the time to explore more of the local crags but sadly time was not on our side – travelling through Belgium always takes me much longer than i expect. As such, we only really had chance to see one crag: Felsenmeer. To be honest, if we only got chance to see one, this was a good shout!

I would still class this as more of a local’s crag or a stop over spot, rather than a focal point of a trip but only just. If the neighbouring crags are anywhere near as good, you could easily justify staying much longer.

Over the course of the next few trips, i am very keen to explore much more and will hopefully be updating this page with every new area i see. Watch this space.

  • Felsenmeer. When one area dominates a third of a guidebook, you know you have a pretty safe bet for your first destination. I can see why it does as well. Placed around a nature park, with plenty of local info on the area, Felsenmeer seems to be a rock glacier with so many boulders it can get you a little too excited. The downside is there is a lot of uphill walking to get you there but my recommendation is to suck it up and head for the kiosk at the top of the hill first and go from there. There are classics in abundance and some to head to would include the Rampe boulder, the Pyramid and Diskus 7a.

Local Amenities

Germany is possibly, at time of writing at least, the most affluent and successful country in the world. As such, the thought that one may struggle to find the necessary amenities is, quite frankly, laughable.

In any given town you should expect to find food and accommodation and the western town of Bensheim is no exception. Granted the high street didn’t inspire much in terms of a unique position but it was certainly pleasant.

Nevertheless, below are some suggestions for places that we frequented while on our short trip there. I am fully expecting to pop by again in the future and as and when i do, will fill in more as i find it.

  • Food. Bensheim has plenty, including a huge Aldi and a nicer supermarket called Edeka Center Jakobi. They’re right next to each other on the Wormser Strasse on the way west out of town. I’d recommend the latter although there are loads of others in town.
  • Accommodation – Campsites. We stayed in the Oasis of Peace; a rather elaborate name for what you get! More of a suburban patch of grass, this little site lacked Wi-Fi or even a reception but did have excellent showers (the mens at least) flat pitches and an incredibly friendly host. For somewhere to pitch your tent in peace, i’d thoroughly recommend it. Found in the town of Gronau just out of Bensheim.
  • Cafes and Bars. No idea, sadly, as we weren’t there long enough to find out. There do seem plenty of eateries in the area but when one came with the suggestion, “it’s not great but you can eat it” i really don’t know where to suggest.
  • Guidebooks. There is an old, out of print guidebook for the area from 2008 by Alpin Verlag that you may be able to find. Even when there, though, i still resorted to 27crags.

Relevant blog posts: here (if you’re that psyched or bored)

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