“Even the greatest journey begins with a first step, preferably to the local rock-climbing crag.” These were the wise words of my dad, when he took my brother and me out for the first time to the tradition-rich “Climbing garden in Buchenhain (german: Klettergarten)”. It is here where the pioneers of bavarian alpinism tweaked their technique and gained the strength for higher goals. Legends like Otto Herzog, Leo Rittler, Sepp Gschwendtner and Hermann Huber developed the crag from the late 19th century onwards and still many classic routes carry their names: from the “Herzog-arete” in the Karwendel, the “Rittler-arete” and “Gschwendtner-chimney” in the Wilder Kaiser mountain range, European Alps, through to the “Huber & Koch route” on Caraz 2 in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru.
My family’s passion for the mountains began with my grand-uncle Hans (Yes, his name was actually Hans). He cycled from Munich to Buchenhain to climb alongside the Schmid brothers, who first-ascended the Matterhorn north face in 1931. Hans inspired my father Gerhard to leave the busy city-life, and move our still young family to the peaceful country-life in Buchenhain. It is not surprising that my brother Stefan and I rather went to the Klettergarden than to Kindergarden… (lol). We started bouldering here when I was about 11 years old (gosh that’s 20 years ago). The climbs offer everything from grades V-easy to V-hard. Most of them are traverses along the base of the cliff, as it gets quite chossy towards the top. The rock is super-polished conglomerate with lot’s of pockets and side pulls – any combination is possible. However, there is only a finite number of holds and after decades of eliminating moves, the WILDest problems emerged… for example the classic “Lower Rittler traverse”, became the “Shoulder Popper”. Or the initially impossible 200m traverse along the entire crag, is now a raceway and we normally warm up on it.
It is always great to come back home and try the old problems. It is where our family can “hang around” together, reminisce about previous adventures and plan the next one. Shout-out to my dad, correct decision to move out here, but I bet you didn’t reckon that your wise words become truth 🙂