Foto Speedy Füllemann
Climbing Wendenstöcke | Excalibur ****
10SL | 350m | 6b (6b obl)
Lechner, Amann 83 | refurbished Pitelka, von Känel 10
The Wendenstöcke, a big name in the climbing world, are at least as famous as they are notorious. Famous on the one hand for flawless rock quality and a huge range of stunning climbing routes. The well over 100 routes alone could fill an entire climbing life. Notorious on the other hand for their demanding, sparsely equipped and exposed routes. Tours with a distinctive character and a big reputation. Every ambitious climber would like to put its a hands on the Wendenstöcke, be it at the sharp end of the rope or accompanied by a strong climber or mountain guide.
Whether on Mähren, Pfaffenhut, Excaliburpfeiler, Dom, Reissend Nollen and whatever the sectors are called, climbing on the Wendenstöcke is versatile. You can find technical climbing where trust in your feet and a lot of balance are required. One finds ingeniously structured, fingery wall climbing on crimps and water-formed structures. There are also steep, athletic climbs that burst the forearms. You will find large holes, the typical Wenden-jugs, which can sometimes be surprisingly slopy, drip holes, cracks and dihedrals, low-friction, extremely rough and extremely sharp rock. Diversity is guaranteed!
In order to be able to cope with the comparatively moderate routes on the Wendenstöcke, a climber should have experience, strong fingers and a solid psyche, or at least a strong leader or mountain guide. A large part of the routes at the Wendenstöcke is still withheld for the absolute experts, requires a level of 7a and higher and this also high above the last bolt.
Excalibur was the first route at the Wendenstöcke and has become a classic today. It is one of the easier routes on the crag. However, this in no way means that Excalibur is easy. Because there are no easy routes on the Wendenstöcke. Excalibur follows the logical line along the pillar of the same name and offers a wide range of climbing, from the technical slabs to vertical wall climbing to steep cracks and dihedrals. The rock is consistently very good, at the typical fingery, water-formed drip holes. The leader has to master the obligatory level of difficulty of 6b, if you want to have fun, you should be above it, especially since the rating is rather hard.
Excalibur was refurbished in 2010 by Michal Pitelka and Peter von Känel, there are bolts at spacings that are fair for the crag. With a set of Camalots from 0.3-1 you are adequately equipped, even if you could place bigger cams too. Nevertheless, there are climbing sections where you better dont take a fall.
Conclusion: Excalibur is one of the easier routes at the Wendenstöcke, is still not easy, but shows what climbing on these legendary cliffs can offer. Namely the best rock, exposed atmosphere and climbing with a distinctive character that you will remember for a long time.
Approach & descent Excalibur
By car to Wendenläger (9.- fee). The ascent and descent to the Excalibur pillar is, like all approaches to the Wendenstöcke, steep, exposed and requires sure-footedness and full concentration. A slip can have fatal consequences. Rumor has it about overhanging meadows... For the approximate trail course, see photo. It is important not to follow the path in the gorge-like terrain at approx. 2050m, which turns left and leads to the Pfaffenhut, but to continue straight up. Then you climb a long right curve towards the elephant ear and only cross left to the Excalibur pillar high up in rocky terrain. It is explicitly advised against direct access in the fall line of the pillar. The start of the route is marked with a sling (E671805 N178817). See also map here .
Topo Excalibur, Wendenstöcke
L1 6a + Start at the fixed sling (hourglass). Precise, technical wall climbing with the crux in a somewhat steeper rightwards traverse. Then easier but also airier protection, climb straight up to the belay.
L2 6a + Left hand variant leads in similar style as L1 to the belay (6b). On the right a 6a+ pitch offers more technical, sometimes extremely rough friction climbing. Traverse to the right to short crack dihedral, straight up to the hard to reach bolt in exciting climbing, then easier and sometimes brittle. At the last bolt, straight up or much easier left to the belay. Cross the meadow to the start of L3.
L3 6b While the first two lengths “only” offer good climbing via the stem of the pillar, Excalibur really gets stunning here. Probably the best pitch of the route shows what Wendenstöcke-quality really means. Fingery, technical wall climbing, precise footwork and some exposed climbing above the bolts are required here. Great! Staying left makes it a little easier. The traverse to the belay is easier again, but remains exciting. Overall, certainly a hard 6b.
L4 6a From the belay over huge holes characteristic for the Wenden to the left and straight up on superb rock. Here you would also get in a larger cam, but a move higher smaller ones fit again, so that the rack 0.3-1 still is accurate. Great, exposed moves to the right and from here airy over sloping structures with good friction directly up to the belway. Hidden on the left is a piton. However, this leads to the an old, uncomfortable belay in the dihedral and is better skipped, even if its tempting to clip the piton...
L5 5c + First a steep section on great, water-eroded rock, then a beautiful, clean crack dihedral with another steep final. Quite exhausting for 5c+.
L6 6a Cross the ledge a few meters to the right and go straight up. Again very beautiful, water-eroded rock, cross left on rubble ledge and at the end straight up a clean dihedral.
L7 6a Beautiful right traverse on small, fingery holes and along the pillar and finally crack up to the belay. Very nice and photogenic pitch! Attention: clip some bolts when rappelling in order to reach the belay!
L8 6a + beautiful wall climbing in water-eroded rock. The fixed sling (hourglass) according to the topo after the first bolt is no longer there. However, you get a very solid 0.3 cam right below. The little runout after that can be minimized with a sketchy cam in a hold. It still needs to be found out whether this cam supports more than just your moral. Then nice wall climbing to the belay.
L9 5c + Dihedral, initially great rock quality, towards the end rather brittle.
L10 4c From the belay to the left over brittle rock to the highpoint. There is a direct variant, which leads up steep rock in grade 6b.
Abseil down the route. Clip quickdraws in pitch 7 when abseiling!
Beauty : **** / *****
Protection : xxx / XXXXX can be partially supplemented with mobile devices
Exposure : south
Material : 50m double rope, 10 quickdraws, possibly cord for hourglasses, cams 0.3-1
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