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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

Author
Kronthal – France
f_ladou
25/07/2012
1:52:40 PM
Grès – sandstone

There it stands. Majestic and immemorial. How can a cathedral be pink? Was there some kind of gay clergy in the 13th century? Each time I stand there, I can hardly believe my eyes. Centuries of craftsmanship, lifetimes of devotion are carved in its facade. It took centuries to build, it will impress for many more. Strasbourg cathedral stands erect for all mankind to behold, it's belfry towering 142 meter above its adoptive city, daring to stay upright on shifting grounds.


Faith can do wonders. Strasbourg cathedral.

Mentioned as early as in the 8th century, the cathedral – as it stands today – started in 1190 and its western façade was completed in 1439, almost 3 centuries later. Amazingly, the stones required for the construction were carted from the Vosges mountains (pronounced as in "vogue" with a soft "g" and two silent "s" ), more than 50 kilometers away. The rock chosen to glorify the One-who-might-be was a high-quality sandstone of a delicate pink coloring . So much rock was carved out of the Vosges, that centuries later, scars in the form of quarries are still visible. If the rock was good enough for a deity, needless to say, it is also ideal for mere mortal climbers like us. That's were we climbed, in a quarry by the name of Kronthal ("Crown valley").


As section of Kronthal's wall. Note the so-called "pudding" near the top: embedded polished pebbles.

Spanning 300 meters and harboring 130 climbs, Kronthal is the most prominent climbing site around Strasbourg. One could say it's the local Kangaroo Point (where's that Brisbane cathedral though?). Most routes are in the French 7s (say, 24 and up) but there is enough in the lower grades to make your visit worthwhile if 7s are out of your league (as it is for me). I expected the bolting to be à la Française, i.e. a fixed-hanger every 1.5 meter but surprisingly, many routes are rather committing. The rock itself is fantastic both due to its intrinsic qualities and the thorough cleaning effort and regular traffic.


One of the many routes up Kronthal wall.

Fahad, a friend of my brother Stéphane, drove me in his Renault Kangoo. "You can't say you climbed around Strasbourg and have not climbed at Kronthal". Ok then. I only had one meagre day for climbing on this whole trip, I might as well follow the guide… We parked right at the foot of the wall, walked up for 15 seconds and stood in front of this impressive pink wall. The overall outlook bears little resemblance to the sandstones of the Blueys. This wall is man-made over centuries, not eroded over millennia; there are no iron-stone bands. Move closer though, find a little orangy patch, touch it: you're in the Blueys, Shippley Upper perhaps.

The climbing is quite different though. The holds are at odd angles, the lines are often broken. You can still see the scars left by the "barres à mine" (mining rods) used centuries ago to crack open the rocks. Check it out:


Vertical trace (centre-left) left by the "barre à mine" used eons ago.

The man-made aspect of the wall, forces a different "gestuelle" on the climbers. Although my hands felt comfortable on the sandstone, my body was at odds with it. We warmed up on "Les écuries d'Augias" [5c/17] and "Rétablissment à peine capitale" [6a+/19]. The grading was to me a little stiff but that's to be expected. Both climbs were excellent. We moved to "La combination" [6b+/21], a combo climb and then to "Les malheurs de Sophie" [6b+/21]. Both gave me some trouble and I had to cheat on the last one.


Fahad at the top of "Les écuries d'Augias".

So, although the Alsace region is not well known for its climbing, the Vosges offers many climbing site that seem to be well worth the detour if you are planning climbing trip in Germany, in the Frankenjura for example which is less than 300 km away. Hop over the border for a change of language, culture, and food. You won't regret it.

Ciao, François










nmonteith
25/07/2012
3:32:31 PM
Certainly looks like something different for France!

Brisbane actually has a (lame) Cathedral - but it's made of granite from memory, but the foundations are KP rock....

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_O0kCe9coBUI/SyONcWeVMgI/AAAAAAAAIFc/P0uD9aRaTQQ/s1600/Image6.jpg
alex_f
25/07/2012
3:57:09 PM
At the beginning I was a bit worried that you might have brought your drill to France in order to realise a new 142m urban sandstone climbing project but I am relieved to see that you opted to go to the mountains instead, even putting up with such a massively long walk-in.
Awesome trip report, as always. Seems like you had fun climbing, even without your regular buddies.

benjenga
25/07/2012
4:23:13 PM
Bit more of a history lesson then a trip report but good read. Keep them coming
f_ladou
25/07/2012
5:07:36 PM
On 25/07/2012 benjenga wrote:
>Bit more of a history lesson then a trip report but good read. Keep them
>coming

@benjenga: Yeah, well yes. There's only so much exciting stuff worth reporting that can happen on a Wednesday morning at the local crag. I thought it'd be interesting for a few readers to know about it if they ever travel in Alsace.

Don't miss the famous tarte flambée while your there.
dalai
25/07/2012
5:39:44 PM
Looks good!

Recall some mention of this area back in the 90's due to some hard horizontal roof climbs on sandstone. Rare for France as you say...

IdratherbeclimbingM9
25/07/2012
8:52:35 PM
A good trip report and I enjoyed the history associated with it.
It almost made me want to go and climb in a quarry...
~> almost!
Heh, heh, heh.

Nah, I actually did appreciate the juxtaposition between the cathedral and where it's rock came from, combined with the present day usage of same.

Thanks for posting the TR.




























... I am still trying to digest the fact that after travelling from the Bluey's you spent your only free climbing day in France, in a quarry!
dalai
25/07/2012
9:44:20 PM
On 25/07/2012 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>... I am still trying to digest the fact that after travelling from the
>Bluey's you spent your only free climbing day in France, in a quarry!
>☺

France is a big place. In the north, any rock is at a premium!
f_ladou
26/07/2012
9:19:19 AM
On 25/07/2012 dalai wrote:
>Recall some mention of this area back in the 90's due to some hard horizontal
>roof climbs on sandstone. Rare for France as you say...

@dalai: Yes, that'd be your roof right here:

f_ladou
26/07/2012
9:22:03 AM
On 25/07/2012 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>... I am still trying to digest the fact that after travelling from the Bluey's you spent your only free climbing day in France, in a quarry! ☺

@M9: That was a family reunion trip. I packed my climbing shoes just in case...
spicelab
26/07/2012
11:14:17 AM
On 25/07/2012 f_ladou wrote:

>I expected the bolting to be à la Française, i.e. a fixed-hanger every 1.5
>meter but surprisingly, many routes are rather committing.

I want to know where this reputation came from, because it doesn't match my experience of climbing anywhere in France.

Definitely novel to see Euro sandstone!

There are 11 messages in this topic.

 

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