"Germany was perhaps the second country after France to embrace sport climbing. The small limestone outcrops of Frankenjura were a playground for a whole generation of extreme German climbers, the greatest of whom was Wolfgang Gullich, who set many standards around the world, invented modern training and sent the world's first 9a, Aktion Direkt. "
From the UKClimbing.com article, Sport Climbing World Powers (click to read
If you are fortunate enough to be visiting Germany's Frankenjura, the first and hopefully only problem you will encounter is choosing a guidebook. It's not that the crags of the Frankenjura are lacking in written documentation, quite the opposite. In fact, the Frankenjura has arguably the widest selection of guidebooks belonging to one climbing area in the world. These include, amongst may others; Bernhard Thum's Nordlicher Frankenjura, Harold Roker's Franken 1 – Northern and Southern Frankenjura Guides and Sebastian Schwertner's Kletterfuhrer Bands 1 & 2, covering both the Northern and Southern Frankenjura respectively. Out of this 'library', for the non-German speaking individuals, I can only recommend the recently released 'Roker' books, which are the only books to offer an English alternative to directions and crag info.
Frankenjura Extreme by Sebastian Schwertner
© Frankenjura Extreme, Mar 2007
With all these books already available, I was understandably surprised when asked to review Sebastian Schwertner's newest edition- 'Frankenjura Extreme'. It was only when I had a copy in my hands that the idea of another guide seemed logical. Unlike all other guide books, the 'Frankenjura Extreme' is small, light and concise. This is achieved by leaving out crags which are of little significance to the area and controversially, only listing routes graded above French 7a (although there are some exceptions). Like the equivalent Fontainebleau 7 + 8 guide, the Frankenjura Extreme guide is aimed at exactly that, the 'extreme', or people who climb a minimum of French 7a, and more than likely are fondling the big 8's.
Packing in both the Northern and Southern areas, the Frankenjura Extreme is written in English. The first thing that jumped out at me was the excellent presentation, offering a simple yet comprehensive layout similar to that of a traditional Rockfax guide, sans the English grading system. Instead, the Extreme guide incorporates the traditional German grading system, similar to that of the French system. This can take a few days and drunken discussions to comprehend, but after that, it works quite well.
Andi Hofmann on Stonelove (F8b+), Frankenjura
© Martin Joisten
Best of all the Frankenjura Extreme is the first guide I have encountered that unlocks the maze of windy back roads and forest trails to the crags that resemble a picturesque version of Birmingham's spaghetti junction. This is achieved by using clear maps when appropriate, and extremely well written directions, that, I daresay even my mother could understand.
Alongside the excellent directions and maps, the guide has clear, informative descriptions of each crag, and even more impressively, each route, allowing climbers on a short stay to pick their crags wisely to suit their needs. Other commodities include information for climbers with young children, distance by foot from the car to the crag for those who have forgotten how to walk for more than a few minutes, the height/angle of the crag, shade/sun times and, most importantly, listing the nearest guest house to each crag! Winner.
This guide is priced competitively with the other guides on the market at £18.00. If you are on a short stay and only want to visit the more significant crags, and especially if you are ticking in the higher 7's and 8's then I can certainly recommend this guide above the others. If you are operating in the 6' and low 7's, then I suggest purchasing one of the more comprehensive guides and maybe this guide alongside.
Frankenjura Extreme by Sebastian Schwertner.
Werner Thon on Showdown, Frankenjura
© Martin Joisten
This guidebook, written in English, covers 2000+ routes on 100+ cliffs, with the focus on the best cliffs for grade 8 (7a) and above sport climbing.
Available from Cordee