Climbing on the Czech sandstone towers is very different to what most climbers are used to. It is a great adventure and the backdrop is absolutely stunning. Known as the Bohemian Switzerland, the area is increasing in popularity as an outdoor adventure destination.
Climbing in Labskie Udoli is peculiar but awesome. It may be riskier than your regular sport climbing but the incredible experience is worth getting a little scared for.
Labskie Udoli is located in the Elbe Valley, which is divided by the Czech-German border into Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland. Both areas full of spectacular sandstone towers. The Czech part of this climbing paradise is situated north of Ústí Nad Labem, less than 2 hours away from Prague.
As the rock is very soft in most of the area, climbers are not allowed to use chalk or to top-rope (top-roping scars the soft sandstone easily). There are very few, or no bolts at all, to protect the natural beauty of the National Park. The local climbing community has a strong tradition and a purist mentality very much in line with this approach.
The whole area of Labskie Udoli offers beautiful vistas and the rock itself is of amazing, unusual quality! The towers and massifs are up to thirty metres high and the climbing style is typical for sandstone: slabs, vertical and slightly overhanging faces with very tiny feet and small holds, cracks and slopers all calling for great technique and a refined sense of balance.
Despite local climbers’ attempts to protect their climbing tradition, the whole area has changed a bit over last couple of years. Although not everybody is happy about it, climbing here is becoming a little more egalitarian. There are some new crags where you are allowed to use chalk and some bolted routes have been added to Labskie Udoli’s offering. However, most of the climbing is still done with the use of knots for protection. As metal gear also leaves scars on the rock, using cams, friends, nuts and other gear is prohibited. Even if you plan on sticking to equipped routes, you should expect to see half the bolts that would be used in the rest of Europe.
The weather in Czechia is not that easy to predict but in general the best period to enjoy the sandstone climbing runs from early spring to late autumn. Occasionally it can get too cold in the spring and too warm in the summer, but the short term weather forecast is usually accurate enough to choose the best days to climb.
There is a campsite in Staré Křečany, or for a little more comfort, you can try one of the cosy B&Bs (in Czech usually called 'Pension’) situated in one of the villages in the area. Even though public transport within Czechia is not bad, you will appreciate hiring a car and having the option to explore the area freely.