Rossteinnadel, Rosstein (5,567'), and Buchstein (5,577') (Bavarian Alps)

The Buchstein, Rosstein, and the associated Needle are a limestone formation near the fashionable spa of Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps. The Rosstein has a walkup route that attracts millions of tourists, but offers interesting and unusual climbing on the `Sonnenplatten', or sun slabs, on its SW face. The standard route on the Buchstein is a third class scramble, while the Needle calls for a rope even on its easiest route.

A word about alpine ratings .


Needle, West Ridge (III)

Needle, North Face (V-)

Buchstein, Standard Route (I+)

Rosstein, Sun Slabs Right (IV-)


M. and E. Zebhauser, Bayerische Voralpen Ost (Rudolf Rother, Munich 1992)

R. Goedeke, Kletterführer Bayerische Alpen Nordtirol (Bergverlag Rother, Munich 2004)

Rosstein (left summit), Rossteinnadel (center), and Buchstein (right summit) from the southwest in July. The trail leads straight to the Brotzeitstein; the Sonnenplatten are directly above it.

Date: July 13, 2005

Party: Dietrich and Monique Belitz

Routes: Needle; W Ridge, N Face
Buchstein; Standard Route
Rosstein; Sun Slabs Right

Equipment: Small rack of stoppers and cams to #3 Camalot

Time: 9 hrs 45 mins roundtrip from the highway at Bayerwald

Trip report:

The weather was horrible for most of our stay in Germany, and plans for the Alpspitze the Sunday before (with our friends from Weilheim) had quickly degenerated into a 3000'-vertical hike up a road (literally) to the Herzogstand in pouring rain. On Wednesday the weather was finally okay, and we set out to revisit the Ross- and Buchstein, which we had hiked years before, also in pouring rain.

We hiked from Bayerwald to the needle in exactly two hours and decided on the W Ridge (= standard route) of the needle as our first objective. The route is technically very easy (easy 5th class), but the rock was still slightly wet in places and the exposure is impressive. One full 60m pitch brought me to the summit. Monique followed and enjoyed the jugs on the limestone, which is suprisingly little polished given the generations of climbers who have gone up there. (A few days later, on the Ruchenköpfe, I learned what generations of climbers can do to limestone.) The rappel line went over an interesting looking crack, which I toproped next. The climbing on the lower pitch was so-so, but the upper pitch was extremely nice on perfect rock, maybe 5.7 or 5.8. A look at the guide book later identified this route as the North Face, but the routes there are something of a squeeze job, and I may have climbed the lower portion of the North Chimney and then crossed over to the North Face route.

We were not quite sure about the weather, and so we decided to scramble up to the summit of the Buchstein (the highest point on the formation) next. By the time we came back down to the hut between the two summits it was obvious that the weather was going to hold, and so we hiked back around the Rosstein and took the short climbers trail to its southwest side. Here several waves of slabs, the `Sonnenplatten' or sun slabs, lead to the summit. The routes follow prominent grooves carved by the water, which make for rather unusual climbing. There is no meaningful natural pro, but bolts offer (sparse) protection. I found the rightmost line the most obvious one, and led in two pitches to the top of the slabs. From here an easier pitch on mixed rock and grass led to the summit. The tourists had all left by now, and we had the Rosstein to ourselves. It was getting late, so we decided against checking out another slab route, rappelled, and hiked back down to Bayerwald.

A very nice outing, offering varied climbing and three summits. Besides, the Rossteinnadel had been one of my childhood dreams!

Photo Gallery:

Click the pictures to see a higher resolution image.

Monique on the trail from Bayerwald. On the approach to the needle. The needle from the northwest. Dietrich on the W Ridge of the needle. Monique near the summit of the needle. The needle as seen from the hut.

Dietrich rappelling from the needle. The Leonardistein is in the background The Buchstein from the summit of the Rosstein. The standard route is directly behind the hut. Monique on the standard route up the Buchstein. The Rosstein seen from the summit of the Buchstein. The Sonnenplatten on the SW side of the Rosstein. The second pitch of the Sonnenplatten.

Monique following the last pitch (4th class grass) of the Sonnenplatten. On the summit of the Rosstein. The Buchstein is in the background. Monique rappelling the Sonnenplatten. Dietrich on the Brotzeitstein, or lunch boulder. The Sonnenplatten are in the background.

Date: July 20, 1998

Party: Dietrich and Monique Belitz

Route: Buchstein; Standard Route
Rosstein; trail

Equipment: None


Trip report:

The weather was bad, and we just went for a hike. After hiking to the summit of the Rosstein I scrambled up the standard route of the Buchstein, while Monique stayed at the hut between the two summits. Given how slippery the limestone gets when it gets wet, her choice was arguably the smarter one. We still had a good time and vowed to come back in better weather. (We did, although it took seven years.)