It was one of those sunny days spring broke all loose. And it didn't knock. Not the grayest street was resistant to the long forgotten colors showing up. Yet, while in the glowing outside the great awakening reverberated, I worked indoors, into the evening, like a desk horse on the loose. The next day it was friday. Very early I started to do the same again.
But by noon my time had come. I solemnized my announced resignation and pulled a door behind me that, strangely, I would not open again. I went into the sun and without a job I made my way and knew in a few hours we would leave. Tent, climbing gear, books, music, food..! All the rest may be forgotten home! Here comes the sun!
Weismainer is easily spotted
<< Wiesent near Gößweinstein.
After celebrating Easter and almost winning a chicken, my roadtrip touched ground in Upper-Franconia, in the very north of the administrative confines of Bayern. This could be the start of five days of climbing and exploring Frankenjura, which is a far-away geological sibling of the Jura and far from Frankreich*.
Companion for this plan? Lady Rockmaster 3000 speaking the local natives' language and keeping me from local cannibal tribes. But what started as a southward exploration of the whole region, became a visit to the northern part of the northern half of the most northern book of the two Northern Frankenjura topos.
Kurt Albert and Wolfgang Gülich climbing at Donaudurchbruch, just south of the Southern Frankenjura
TOK-TOK-TOKKIDITOK-.. One by one letters fill my view. 'GO THERE! EAT THAT!' reads the screen of the higly marketed Apple product of the girl at the table in front of me. Her intro announces a review of Portuguese food, following up a weekend citytrip to a few restaurants in some touristic neighbourhood of Porto.
After Franken I don't feel ready to review a nation state, or even the smaller region, not even in extremis the northern north that we actually reached. All that me and my partner could figure is that we didn't climb one shitty route in any of the ten-something crags we went to, and we were so much not ready to go on south already.
Rabenstein where we tradclimbed a crack on the right of Alex here, as seen on a summer photo in a Climbing Magazine article on Canada-based Sonnie Trotter visiting Frankenjura with local Alex Megos
I remember the morning. The sun burst thru the sky. We got inside the gasthof, got behind a table. Yesterday we discovered Rolandfels and Alt Babawand, where on arrival kids shouted and the climber parents said (in German) "shhh.. the rock sleeps". This first encounter had been shockingly different from climbing crowds I was used to.
Besides these climbers yesterday (and the woman of the quiet joint that we now found ourselves in –she talked to us as if we weren't new here–) we morningheads hadn't met people in the Frankenjura yet.
From the dark wooden corner a few interested questions rose. An older man drinking tea with his teenage daughter remarked my map. I showed him. He was interested if we had a hikeplan. I told him we were going for a climb. Oooh he smiled and gazed as if he was somewhere else for a moment, Have you heared of Kurt?. - Well... he visited our small uni clubhouse in 2000 and besides that he also happens to be one of the founding saints of sports climbing ehm yeah..
Oh nice, Kurt teached physics in the village next to mine (near Nürnberg) and I got to know him as he asked me about seacanoeing... and he was learning Spanish... He was a good friend of Kurt, so much that he didn't have to tell he was.
Left: Kurt Albert climbs Sautanz near Gößweinstein, 1981.
Right: Three villages to the west near Morschreuth, he soloes Devil's Crack, also opened by him, and reportedly sandbagged (i.e. it's harder than the relatively accessible grade suggests). He died suddenly in 2010, guiding on a Via Ferrata close to Nürnberg and home, after a night driving from Hamburg and allegedly sleeping 1 hour.
We went to a bunch of campings, some crowded with hundreds of the most stereotypical tourists, another one totally unfindable on top of a terribly windy hill where only one other couple was, offering my partner an engineering job in Munich.
Some official sleeping grounds disappointed massively. One got our standards very high up, namely the tentspot/inn where we first slept, where I met Kurt's kayakcontact. Not only was the food way cheaper than it should be, the beer better tapped than it ever could be, but somehow I also slept like a rose here both first two nights, and a later comeback night in the pouring rain. This place cannot be published around, sorry.
Another thing you have to know about Frankenjura is the omnivalent presence of "kuche", sweet baked food. And gasthofs like Frankenhöhe and Zoellner which were helpful on our arrival. And "kellerbier", literally meaning basement beer, actually being unpasteurized beer or basically just often times a hell of a refreshing drink.
Only at the place itself some worker will proudly haul a barrel from the brewery. Most probably though you didn't find us with a Hoppendorf, Heldbrau or Kathi-brau in our hands, but rather clamping on to sharp steep rock, with pockets (Apocketalypse Now!) or a number six cam (also possible).
I ordered a tea and didn't get talked to like a to-be pampered customer who needs a standardized token of subservience as a pledge of allegiance to the market, which is common for me. Not only because of that something's very different for me here. Education? I don't know.
Oberfranken is not very populated. Somehow it feels like a thriving place and at the same time you can watch the stars here above wild forest. It's nothing like some turned around squeezed out landscape. It felt like a contradiction to me, a surprise that a place like this can be, I may have spend too long in the old city.
Down Under is the sole route at the crag of Kainachtaler Torbogen
At the market square of Hollfeld we bumped into the umpteenth colorful celebratory construction for Easter. Two lime trees stood naked next to the blinding white and the vanilla yellow vertical bands of the Catholic church. Hazels unfolded their leaves, beaming in the sun and surrounding the Ostern construction.
We went on to follow the bends of the Wiesent river, on to the source, and then turned to follow it in the direction to where it, one day, will reach the Main river with its vines around Würzburg. A beaverrat trappled by.. the valley thrilled in the sun.. the plains glowed yellow with new Löwenzahne flowers.. the valley rocks echoed soft stirs and you couldn't help believing something was going to happen soon. The valley was alive.
Burg Rabeneck in early autumn, south of Waischenfeld (notice the Himalayan Balsam flowers)
Not soon after starting the day there was the ducklet. And one evening, only a few trees near Neumann's Gößweinstein basilica still looked the way they did last month and the month before that. Most trees had grown gleaming leaves with which they seemed lit as the sun itself.
The last Frankenday it rained. We made it to steep forests near Burgaillenreuth, slept in a cave and eventually went to an outdoor thermal spring from which we saw the early evening storm stampede up to us, while we left the dirt of the last days in a cloud of dust behind.
The roadtrip continued..
It was one day untill I had to finally commit to the new job, for which I undertook several missions and elaborate preparations earlier this year. Walking over a structure aside a field of a city renewal project, as I turned down my eyes from the bright morning light, I received a telephone call and took up. Out of the blue I got another job offer of which I hadn't heared since years. This job left me no doubt. I said yes.
As a side effect the rushy scheme we had for the last days was just laid aside. We went on the way it goes. We soon passed by a circular volcanic lake surrounded by lime trees bathing in the unstopped spring sun, exclusively taken over for an experimental short-chain food fair (splendid). And later we woke up not finding food that first of may holiday, somehow ending up a red carpet, passing a pianist and a grand piano in a castle on to an incredible buffet where we were invited overlooking the river valley,...