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Labske Udoli Rock Climbing by Gerald Krug

When it comes to "Elbsandstein" climbers around the world are, to say the least, a little bit concerned. "Isn't it that area, where those crazy guys use those knotted slings?" is a common question. Yes, they do and traditions are a very strict thing on the German side of the border. The climbing is adventurous, leads always to the top of a summit and there are often some rock-Talibans around taking care nobody is breaking any of the strict climbing laws.

The Czech side of the Elbe Valley, called Labske Udoli, has the best rock in the whole area with sandstone walls rising up to 80m high.  There is a mixture of sport and trad routes, along with friendly people, climbers and locals alike.

But there is one thing, not many people are aware of: the Elbsandstein does not only belong to Germany. There is a Czech side of the border with very friendly people, climbers and locals alike. Even more astonishing: the best rock of the whole area is to be found exactly there! The walls rise up to 80 meters on both sides of the river Elbe and the Czech’s call this area Labske Udoli. These immaculate walls stretch for many Kilometres from the border with Germany towards the town of Děčín with its castle on top of a sandstone outcrop on the bank of the river.

Depending upon the time of the year, one chooses which side of the river (sun or shade) on where to climb. Once in the wonderland of sandstone there are all sorts of places to stay, ranging from cheap to the more expensive.  In the summer time Kosti's Pub on the left bank of the river is the popular place to come. There are low budget rooms and an opportunity to pitch up a tent. Climbers from different nations meet here and there are always locals that give appropriate hints which routes are the best and what beta could be helpful. The beer flows freely, and the later it gets the more ambitious are the plans for the following day. "Unfortunately" the beer is so good and cheap at the same time that you might get stuck on it. Beware!

10 minutes up the hill above the pub there are the best sport climbing routes of the whole area. They are between 20 and 50 meters in length. Even though I call it sport climbing one always has to reach the first bolt, which is often in a height of 8 meters. Making it there can be just very easy climbing but also might require hazardous moves. An increasing number of climbers carry clip sticks to avoid the hassle. But Czech climbers are very tough, so they might drop a smile on you. But do not hesitate to ask them, they are always willing to help. Once the first bolt is reached the harder routes are usually fairly well protected. The white, yellow, brown and sometimes reddish sandstone is full of great routes with very technical climbing. Anyone loving gritstone will find himself in heaven here. The diversity makes it so great. If you like crack climbing the area also serves you well. But these lines are usually traditionally ones, so either be brave, or find someone leading it or stick to a top rope.

Gerald Krug climbing Tvrdolin, IXc

The above photograph shows Gerald Krug climbing Tvrdolin, IXc, taken by Dirk Uhlig

The greatest lines in terms of height and ambience are to be found on the right bank of the river. From Kostis Pub you walk 5 minutes down to the river, take the ferry and go up on the other side for another 20 minutes. Here you find the Belvedere, the best viewpoint of the area high above the river. Just next to it there is a restaurant with some rooms. For climbers and other tourists alike this place serves as the hub for this bank of the river, since it is also reachable with a car.

From here the highest walls of the area are within walking distance (20 minutes). The Große Bastei (Great bastion) is the most remarkable wall and a unique route leads in two pitches through it: Kruh za kruhem, VIIIc (French 6c) on white and black sandstone. What an experience!  Walking under these impressive walls is just jaw dropping: Hugh faces, long cracks, overhangs and towers – everything is there. Go for it!

Labske Udoli Climbing Beta

People from abroad would either fly to Dresden (Germany) or Prague (Czech Republic) to come here. The main train line between the two cities runs directly through the area, so there is no need for a car. Almost everything is within walking distance.

Dirk Uhlig climbing O sole mio, VIIIc

The above photograph shows Dirk Uhlig climbing O sole mio, VIIIc, taken by Gerald Krug.

Labske Udoli (Kletterführer Elbtal) rock climbing guidebookGuidebook
The Climbing Guide Labske Udoli (Kletterführer Elbtal) describes over 2,200 routes across a wide range of grades.  It is published by Geoquest in 2019, and written by Gerald Krug and Jörg Andreas, it is available to buy from our shop.

ATMs, bars, restaurants, shops, supermarkets and even a 24 hour TESCO are in Děčín 10 kilometres away.

Rest days:

  • Visit the impressive castle of Děčín and the center of this historic town just some 10 kilometres away.
  • There are two national parks (NP Sächsische Schweiz, NP Ceske Svycarsko) are only 2 kilometres away that offer beautiful hikes with rock formations such as huge towers and natural bridges.
  • Dresden with its rich cultural heritage is 45 minutes by train from here.
Kosti's Pub is a popular place for climber’s to hang out

Kosti's Pub is a popular place for climber’s to hang out


Labske Udoli (Kletterführer Elbtal) rock climbing guidebook

The Climbing Guide Labske Udoli (Kletterführer Elbtal) describes over 2,200 routes across a wide range of grades.  It is published by Geoquest in 2019, and written by Gerald Krug and Jörg Andreas, it is available to buy from our shop.

Find out more about rock climbing in the Czech Republic

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