Climbing a la Viennese


"I remember climbing it in the 70s, back then it was already like climbing on porcelan haha"

When people think of Austria (at least those aware that it's a country in Europe) they usually picture a mountain filled landscape, the Alps in all their cold and imposing glory, either capped with white snow peaks or covered by green and lush alpine pastures.

The reality hits usually just minutes after landing in Vienna: it's flat, as flat as a pancake.

Geographically Vienna marks the start of the Pannonian Basin, the flattest area in central Europe that spans to the east over Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Romania. So yeah, no sound of music here.

Climbing at adlitzgräben
Bojan milicevic
Multipitch at peilstein
Nikki at peilstein
Nikki at peilstein
Climbing at adlitzgräben
Paul with a stupid grin

But that doesn't mean there are no alpine adventures to be had here, if one is willing to search a bit.

There are plenty of smaller climing crags just a short drive to the west, and this summer we were determined to give a few of them a go.

First stop was Peilstein, an old Austrian classic with over 800 routes of solid limestone.

Very slabby, very polished. The nightmare of any gym orverhang climber. Honestly I didn't know that rock could look like this. Some of the footholds reminded me of polished glass that you find on a beach after it has been washed out by the sea.

We gave an easy two pitch route a go and came back down terrified. You really need solid footwork to feel comfortable here.

An older guy was watching us as he was climbing nearby with his wife (both in their 70s!!). Afterwards he told me:

"Did you know that this route was estalblished 1932? I remember climbing it in the 70s, back then it was already like climbing on porcelan haha.".

I wish he would have told me earlier.

Paul on multipitch
Climbing in peilstein
Paul and Bojan
View at peilstein
Bojan milicevic climbing
Paul climbing
Overhang at adlitzgräben

So the weekend after that we decided to change scenery and went to the Adlitzgräben.

Now this was more our stlye, steep overhangs, grippy handholds, dangling feet, but who cares. This is a much smaller crag, but a really great one and easily accessible too. And very very pumpy, after a full day here you forearms feel like balloons, guaranteed.

We had a blast anyway. These are by no means the only crags available around Vienna, but as so often we ran out of time. We were both in the process of changing jobs, also the change of seasons was upon us.

Excuses really, but it is how it is. There's always next time. Until there isn't I guess.

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