Otto Dietrich also had some courageous ideas with his group, who put up the first ascent of the “Westkante” route on in 1920, rating it VIIc local (approx.. 5c/6a in French grades). Dietrich placed three rings on the route, but in fact, they were quite far from the real route. They avoided the most difficult section of rock by traversing to the crack system on the right side. However, when you consider that their first ring was placed 20 meters above the ground, above a slightly overhanging wall, you have to pay them some respect. In those days, training endurance in climbing gyms.
The full arete was climbed for the first time by Scheffler brothers in 1956. Instead of traversing to the crack, they returned left on the airy edge where they put one ring bolt. Thus, the classic route “Westkante Direct” VIIIb (6b fr.) was established. In fact, it is quite harder than French 6b and a lot of 7a climbers usually hesitate to even try this line…
In 1978, legendary sandstone climber Bernd Arnold decided to try an even more direct line – only touching the sharp edge. He named the new line “Over the Dragon’s Back” (Über den Drachenrücken) IXa (6c Fr.) Truly, when you look at the arete from the right side it reminds you a dragon’s back. Maybe a “dragon” is a bit of a metaphor too – you shouldn’t be afraid to fly when attempting this line – it is 80 meters long and equipped by only two ring bolts..
In the video, you can see Czech climber “Makak” Makovička during his ascent. He is a guy who definitely doesn’t care about flying on the rope.
– Honza “Makak” MakovIcka climbs and talks about it in the video. –
That July, all the climbers felt lazy. In the afternoons the temperatures were rising high above 30 degrees Celsius. You wouldn’t see many climbers at the crags – most of them were relaxing by the water. If you occasionally met someone, he usually was climbing a few grades below his real limit due to the bad friction and sweaty hands (chalk is strictly forbidden in the Elbe Sandstone region). However, Makak got smart with it. He found a massively overhanging route with big holds called “Endspurt” and made himself happy with his first Xb (7c Fr.) RP send of his life.
At first he did not want to climb “Over the Dragon’s Back” again: “When I climbed that a few years ago for the first time, I climbed on the sun and the route seemed to me very unpleasant. It seemed to me harder than Arnold’s legendary route “Lineal” IXa (6c Fr.),” recalled Makak, who was afraid that he will spoil his onsight of “Over the Dragon’s Back”. Anyway, the film crew told him “We will force you to stop by ring bolts anyway to change angles of views and you will climb the crux of the route two times.” So that Makak could climb with clear conscience. He had a good excuse: “The film crew did not allow me to climb RP style.”
Memory of Pavel Krupka
“I have climbed “Over the Dragon’s Back” twice.
When I climbed that for the first time 40 years ago, it seemed to me like a child’s play.
When I climbed for the second time (15 years ago), I was hanging in top rope and hurled imprecations.
Right now it is too hard for me even to follow”
If you’re interested in learning more information about climbing in the sandstone region, feel free to contact us. We can tell you which seasons or months are the best, which routes are a must-do, which are not dangerous, where to stay, where to park, where the best beer is tapped, and so on… Our enthusiastic editorial board is based in the heart of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Write us at: [email protected]
“Climbing is not about the grades and life is not about the money.”
He loves to write about inspiring people.
Addicted to situations when he does not care about the time – in the mountains or sandstone crags.
Professional video editor, cameraman and occasional photographer.
He was shooting in China, Argentina, Indonesia or India. His next destination is New Zealand.
Motto: „When there is a will, there’s a way.“