As an advocate for new experiences and enthusiast of facing your fears, I have no right to skip rappelling or anything height related. Which is why I ended up learning how to rappel- throwing myself off the side of a rock in the Czech Republic with the hopes that some rope will catch me.
There are many places within the Czech Republic which remind many of pure magic. Hans Christian Anderson found himself frequenting the country and came up with several very famous fairytales, so there has to be something magical about the place. There are castles, there are chateaus, there are lakes, there are castles next to chateaus on lakes. Outside of the castle life, however, lies another area that could inspire magic.
In Broumovske there lies Adršpach, a horde of rocks resembling skyscrapers-- nature’s city life. When I was taken to Adršpach Rock Town, I didn’t assume that fairy tales were created there-- I believed it. The rocks are giants that rise above, hardly noticing the small people wandering around the crevices at their feet. It’s as if they were frozen in time, stuck in the position that they were fated to be for all eternity. These magical rocks have been personified by it’s visitors and are now identified by their titles: the mayor and his wife, which looks like the mayor and his wife; the lovers, which looks like two lovers; the turtle, which looks like a turtle ready to jump off a cliff; the bear, which I never saw… the list goes on, and each one resembles its title pretty accurately.
The rocks, made of sandstone, have been deteriorating for centuries due to the wind and the river Metuje. I had never seen a place quite like this.
Nestled in Eastern Bohemia of the Czech Republic, the rock town makes for a dreamy walk, perfect for any creative to find inspiration. Even Nyx, from Sketchbook Journeys found inspiration walking amongst the stones.
To fully enjoy the national park, there is a pathway that weaves around and in between the rocks and creates a loop. From one end to the other end of the loop takes about 3 hours and involves not just walking, but climbing up and down staircases so that you may be closer to the tops of the giants.
If you are brave enough, there are designated rocks for the avid climber. The first rocks climbed were in 1923 and for the past 20 years several routes have been added to the rocks, some more difficult than others. Don’t worry, in the years that the national park has been opened only one person has died from climbing.
In the hopes of avoiding becoming the second person to die while climbing in Adršpach, I was determined to learn how to climb, but from much shorter rocks. My group met up with Tomas and Bara, a couple of experienced climbers who had been climbing in the area of Broumovske for more than 10 years. Due to time constraints, we were only able to learn how to rappel, which, to my absolute horror, meant that instead of starting on the stable, solid, hard ground, you start at the top of the rock instead-- with a 20 meter drop to look forward to. My heart was pounding with this thought in mind, but the chill persona and overall confidence in climbing coming from Bara and Tomas really made it easier to throw myself down the side of the rock.
I ended up rappelling the rock twice, the second time easier than the first. The fearlessness in Bara and Tomas made me want to repeat the activity again and again. Maybe one day I’ll return to Adršpach and climb one of the taller rocks with no fear and be just like Tomas and Bara, barefoot and climbing and feeling free hanging from a piece of rope that’s attached to a tree and dangling 20 meters up. But probably not.
You Can Do It, Too!
How to get there by train: Take Czech Railways from Prague h.l.n. to Starkoc, change trains in Starkoc towards Teplice nad Metuje. In Teplice nad Metuje change trains one more time toward Adršpach. Total travel time: 4 h 32 m Check for more accurate train details here.
Rappel and rock climb: Tomas is an excellent guide and his prices are extremely reasonable. For a half day course for one person is 300 czk/hour (approximately 13 usd). See his full price list on his website here.