Tianshu Li and
National Park Website:
Regional Hiking Guide:
I had a conference in Dresden, Germany, so Tianshu and I took this
opportunity to go hiking in the Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische
Schweiz in German). The region is characterized by numerous huge
sandstone rock formations and it is a big climbing site. The are
some very interesting climbing rules here. I quote from
"There are restrictions on climbing equipment. No metal protection
other than the rings already present may be used. The permanent
rings are often very far apart. If intermediate protection is
desired, creating sling knots, threading sling through holes in the
rock (Sanduhr) or looping a sling around rocks is allowed. Given
that the rock is so soft, I don't think any of this would really
hold. As a family friend explained to me once - if you fall, then
you overestimated your abilities and you shouldn't have been there
in the first place! Chalk or any other chemical is forbidden."
Anyway, given the limited time available, we didn't bring any
climbing gear with us, and we just hiked.
The first day we hiked from Bad Schandau to Lichtenhainer Wasserfall,
whick turned out to be quite long (~6 hrs). We didn't find good
weather, but it didn't rain and the low clouds and the fog added
some sense of mystery to the landscape. We traversed the rock
complex of Schrammsteine and, partially, Affensteine. The trail is
very nice, meandering in small canyons, under little caves, and
climbing up to the rock ridges. In many points metal ladders, metal
holds and carved steps facilitate the trail.
The second day we went to Rathen to climb to Bastei, which offers
great views of the Elbe valley. The trail climbing up from the north
side is very nice. Unfortunately, since the top can be accessed by
road, the Bastei itself is very packed with noisy tourists, who pay
a fee of few Euros to access some bridges connecting the rocks. We
didn't want to fall in this tourist trap (even because we had enough
bridges the day before) and we discended directly back to Rathen.
From there we hiked to Lilienstein, which reminded us of New
Mexico's mesas. Lilienstaein is also very popular, although less
then Bastei, and has a restaurant on the top.
The third day we hiked to a natural arch in the Czech Republic,
which can be accessed by simply crossing the river in Schöna.
Despite the beauty of the arch, which is quite large, this hike was
quite disappointing: a good part of it is on paved road, quite busy
with cars; then, it is extremely crowded with toursists; but the
worst thing is that, despite what one may see in some pictures,
there arch is surrounded by signs of the human "civilization" (?).
Restaurants, paved road, noise...and they ask you for 3 Euros (the
price of a decent meal in the nearby village) to get closer to the
arch: once again, "no, thank you!"
Overall, I think that the region is very nice and deserves a second
visit to discover the less known places and to try the climbing.