Above the town of Bad Schandau rises a group of rocks packed in a very characteristic formation: the Schrammsteine chain. The whimsical shapes of its many towers are seen from far away, as far below as the train tracks next to the Elbe. Taking a closer look, one can only wonder how to navigate the multiple cracks and chimneys that traverse almost every peak. Roughly, the area can be divided in two broad sections: the towers at the same height of the Schrammsteine massif and the smaller peaks sitting at the top of the Schrammsteine plateau. The rock is of a characteristic yellow color that can be very soft in some areas. Therefore it is extremely important to allow plenty of time after rain to preserve the routes (and your well being!) in their current state.
Walking to the peaks you will find yourself at the feet of gigantic towers right next to each other. This results in true labyrinths of chimneys, pillars, and ridges. Few other approach walks finish with such awe as the hikes up to the Falkenstein or Schrammtor groups. It should come as no surprise that many climbers, both foreign and local, have a great respect for Schrammsteine routes. Yet there are many rewards for taking the challenge of climbing in this adventurous area: the Schrammsteine is home to classic test-pieces from almost every decade of the last century! From the classic chimneys of the 1890s of Schuster and the Meurer brothers, to the visionary lines of B. Arnold in the 80s and all the way to the more recent hard lines by C.J. Stiller and R. Leistner. Even though the same can be said for the Sächsische Schweiz as a whole, it is specifically in the Schrammsteine where one can directly testify (and climb through!) the evolution of free climbing.
But not all routes need years of Saxonian climbing experience under the belt, as there are also several “pleasure climbs”, such as the Schusterweg, perhaps one of the most popular routes in the Elbsandsteingebirge. Nevertheless, keep in mind that many routes, regardless of their grade, require a broad and solid technical skill set as they combine different styles and, especially older lines, have long unprotected chimney sections. Also, not all climbs need to be day-long expeditions. The peaks at the top of the Schrammsteine plateau offer short routes on all difficulties with great scenery in the background. On the downside, the approach walk to these peaks is considerably longer and has a higher elevation gain.
In summary, the Schrammsteine offers a healthy escape from the “sport-climbing” scene and a huge training ground to broaden your technical skills in long adventurous climbs.
Currently I have topos for 1 peak in this area: