Bohemian Switzerland is probably best known for its rocks, hewn into remarkable shapes by the ravages of nature. It’s no surprise, then, that this wild region of the Czech Republic is considered to be a climber’s paradise. Come to the lush, green forest to try your hand at bouldering, climbing and slacklining. But beware – rock climbing in Bohemian Switzerland is addictive, and you’ll definitely want to come back for more!
Stone Giants of Bohemia
The soft sandstone rock of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park has been eroded over the years, leaving behind some truly weird and wonderful shapes. From phallic ‘fairy chimneys’, to imposing stone archways, the natural architecture of this incredible region is a sight to behold.
These ‘stone giants’ tower over the forest, some pillars stretching 30m into the sky. Such dramatic rocks demand to be conquered, and for 130 years, people have been coming here to scale some of the park’s most impressive natural monuments.
The Beckstein Fortress
One of the early pioneers of rock climbing in this magnificent national park was Karl Beck. Beck was seduced by the natural beauty of Bohemian Switzerland, and the first person to scale the imposing ‘fortress’ rock. His ascent of this strange, angular rock was legendary, and it has been known as the ‘Beckstein Rock’ ever since.
Beck also inaugurated a particular climbing tradition in Bohemian Switzerland. At the top of each of the major rocks in the park you will find a small box. Inside these precious caskets are the signatures of all the people who have managed to climb to the top, inscribed in a small red notebook. These little pieces of history are a reminder that generations of climbers from across the world have travelled to the Czech Republic to go climbing in Bohemian Switzerland. Who knows – perhaps your name will be next?
The Stunning Tisa Rocks
The Tisa Rocks (or the Tisa Walls) offer some of the best places for traditional rock climbing in Bohemian Switzerland. This spectacular range of tall sandstone rocks is a must-see attraction of the park. Stretching high into the sky, this fortress of stone has been built up over time in layers, bisected by huge cracks and crevasses. The worn face of the rocks often resembles strange faces and figures. Come here to see huge ‘toadstools’, ‘turtles’ and ‘giants’, towering over visitors.
Tisa Rocks are a fantastic place for climbing enthusiasts and seasoned pros.
This is the perfect place to set some climbing goals, develop your skills, and there really is something for every climber. The soft sandstone is very inviting, and many of the routes are well worn, with clear handholds and footholds. Many companies and groups offer climbing tours and lessons here. The area is particularly well set up for climbers, in many cases with hooks and ropes already installed.
However, I would not recommend you to climb here unless you are already familiar with traditional climbing and outdoor climbing in general. For other more beginner friendly climbing places, I would recommend limestone rock climbing in Siruana, Spain.
Tisa isn’t the only place for climbing in Bohemian Switzerland. Sneznik, near the German border, offers world-class bouldering – great for beginners. More experienced climbers can try their luck at the sheer cliff faces in Hrensko, where the views are the perfect reward for a difficult climb.
A fan of national parks? Check out Slovak Paradise in Slovakia
Drawing the Line in the Sky – Highlining
Bohemian Switzerland isn’t just a mecca for climbers. This lush region also attracts adventurers who want to walk above the treetops. Slacklining and highlining are closely associated with rock climbing, and Bohemian Switzerland is no exception. The trees and rocks of this remarkable landscape offer fantastic opportunities for slacklining. You’re sure to meet more than a few enthusiasts during your time here.
Slacklining refers to the sport of walking along a thin strip of webbing, stretched between two points.
The rope is typically looser than a traditional tightrope, meaning that it has more bounce and give. Slacklines can be placed low between two trees, or high up in the rocks and cliffs for thrill-seekers. Either way, it’s a great way to strengthen your core and take in the fabulous scenery. For those willing to try highlining, there’s also a powerful adrenalin rush that keeps you coming back again and again.
The Girls Only Slackline Festival in Czech Republic
Such is the popularity of slacklining and climbing in Bohemian Switzerland, there is even an annual festival devoted to the sport! In 2011, a group of enthusiastic female slackliners set up a festival where women could practice their slacklining and highlining skills, meet other women and socialise in a friendly, safe environment. Now in its ninth year, the Girls Only Slackline Festival takes place in September in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park.
This remarkable festival aims to break down stereotypes and encourage more women to participate in slacklining and highlining. Everyone is welcome, whatever your level, and this is a great place, both for complete beginners and experienced old-timers. The atmosphere is fun, festive, and often features women in fancy dress or outrageous costumes tackling highlines between the iconic sandstone rocks of the Bohemian forest.
Bohemian Switzerland is the perfect place for the festival, as it has easy-to-access highlines, sandstone rocks perfect for climbing, and fabulous views over the lush, green forest. What better place to give this exhilarating sport a try?
Practical Information to climbing in Bohemia Switzerland
Climbing in Bohemian Switzerland is a popular activity, but you should use a registered guide or have a membership of either the UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinism) or the local Czech equivalent. The sandstone is rare and precious, and it is not permitted to use metal hardware such as camalots or wires. Some locations are only open in the summer months – check the National Park guidelines for further information.
In areas where the rock is soft, it’s important to seek local guidance about when it’s safe to climb after rain. In some cases, it may take several days for the rock to dry and become safe to climb on once again.
Climbing in Bohemian Switzerland is a real joy, and you’re sure to find plenty of helpful advice from locals and climbing associations. Let’s hope this region stays protected and can be enjoyed by generations of climbers to come!