From over a grassy hill, a group appears. A party of adventures trecking through farmland in search of rock walls. As they come into view gear laden packs adorned with climbing helmets are visible. Off to the left and right peeping in and out of view are the smiling faces of two girls pouncing, summer salting and, giggling their way through the open land. All from different backgrounds coming together for one thing, climbing.
The group moves for Kletterngarten Bad Heilbrunn, a long-abandoned stone quarry south of Munich. The quarry is known among Bavarian climbers for its novice-friendly routes while also holding secrets like requiring friction climbing techniques. Being located halfway between Bad Heilbrunn and Bichel it’s primarily visited via car, a fact it would appear has not deterred this party. The Klettergarten starts a few hundred meters hike from the highway and is broken up into two areas. Following a stream crossing is the lower area made up of a 150m long 25m high smooth wall knows as the Plate. Then capping off the manmade grotto is a slightly taller wall with a crack down the middle. The Plate earns its name because the wall is a major heat sink, quickly heating up in the morning and unclimbable at times in the hot afternoon sun. Not being completely verticle the sandstone walls feature few solid handholds and lead to smearing friction based climbing, a skill not easily honed in the gym. Rising up from the cracked wall at the end is the second climbing area. This one has more traditional terrain with cracks to follow and overhands to overcome. These climbs together comprise a hidden little treasure tucked in the rural land at the base of the Alps.
Like any good adventure, this group set out early gathering at Munich central station at 8:00h for a train towards Kochel. Getting off in Bichel they hiked through the town on to Obersteinbach until the lack of roads or trails lead to cross country trekking. They progressed over grass fields, over creeks, through patches of forest, and a tricky highway section to cross with children. A route that might rattle some groups but the fresh air and joy of seeing the young ones meet cows, sheep, and lamas kept spirits high.
Now after a successful, though perhaps a poorly planned, approach the group starts climbing and after a few minutes is in the thick of it. Spread out along the Plate there are climbing parties enjoying the outdoors. In the middle of the wall, our group has set up. One climber on lead is in a moment of complete concentration, focusing as they inch towards clipping the next bolt. Matched in concentration is the eyes of the belayer, tracing their movements preparing to give slack or take a fall. Next to the lead climber is one of the young girls on top rope quite oblivious to the fear simply making her way up the wall. Down at the base, a proud father on belay is accompanied by others who are watching, snacking or in the case of the other child curled up in a hammock like a cocoon.
Throughout the day, this scene will shifts as different members take turns on the wall everyone testing their will. Some fighting fear a few meters off the ground and some higher praying a foot holds as they stretch attempting to pull themselves out of a ceiling. Facing physical and mental challenges together on the walls creates an experience that is uniquely climbing. From safety checks before going up, high fives after coming down, to sharing food at lunch climbing makes a family, if even just one beautiful day in the German sun.