A New Way to Experience the German Forest
You have a favorite place to spend your time. It might be somewhere you visit every day; it might be somewhere you’ll only visit once in your life. You might say your favorite is one place, even though it’s not actually your favorite. But my favorite place to spend my time is the Kletterwald Highropes course at Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Chances are, you know a little about Highropes, less about Rothenburg, and nothing at all about Kletterwald, so I’ll explain.
Highroping is an adventure activity in which an individual navigates a course in the air. The course is made up of elements, and the platforms in between them. The elements are the fun part of the course. These are the wooden blocks, the nets, the swings, the hanging logs; the obstacles that you must climb, walk, and jump through to reach the next platform. The platforms are there to give you a moment to rest before continuing to the next obstacle ahead. Courses vary wildly in length, difficulty, and height. Although it doesn’t seem so, the only way to fall off a course is to blatantly disobey the safety laws.
The Kletterwald Highropes course located at Rothenburg ob der Tauber is simply one of the many, many Kletterwald establishments throughout Germany, but it’s my personal favorite due to the increased difficulty of some of the courses, and an excellent safety system that makes it impossible to fall off.
In the lightly forested park, the ominous dangling cables, wooden planks, and bridges are intimidating. All sorts of thoughts are running through your head. ‘Is that a scooter hanging up there? Why am I doing this in the first place? It looks hard. I hope I don’t fall off something...’
You are told to step into the harness. The instructor pulls it up around you; cold metal buckles and rough straps brushing against your skin and clothes, before yanking the straps tight. The tension of the harness on your body feels odd at first but soon becomes natural. Dangling from your belt are two metal cables, sheathed in fabric and tipped with huge, unwieldy carabiners; along with a third cable that ends in a bizarrely shaped metal chunk which conceals two wheels. As the guide instructs you to don a pair of white heavy-duty gloves, you wonder how you’re ever going to use the gear attached to your belt with the added bulk of the thick fabric on your hands.
As soon as your entire group has been outfitted in a similar fashion, you are all led to a very simple test-course. It seems very small compared to the rest of the courses visible in the trees above and around you, only a foot away from the ground and only lasting about ten yards; but at the same time it fascinates you.
The curiosity you have makes you even more attentive to the short speech that the instructor gives about the rules and safety precautions of the park. She then steps onto the small course, and quickly goes through it, explaining both how to use the equipment on your belt, and how to get through the different kinds of obstacles. The instructor’s demonstration is brief but clear. But before you can get started on your own, every member of your group must complete a mandatory course.
You soon find that the courses in the Kletterwald Park are arranged by color, and further by name. Blue, the easiest and lowest collection of courses.
Red, the difficult courses for confident and somewhat experienced challengers.
Black, containing the hardest course in the entire Kletterwald establishment, harboring heights of over fifty feet. All of the courses are named after various tree-climbing animals, ranging from the Lemur to the Gorilla.
As you begin on the mandatory basic course, a blue, you quickly find out which members of the group will race ahead like monkeys, and which will slowly follow behind like sloths.
Although being stuck behind your painstakingly slow companions may sometimes be cumbersome, don’t let it bother you. Instead, make sure you take in the natural beauty of the trees around you, and learn to enjoy taking your time as you traverse the terrain comprised of hanging wooden logs and zip lines. The amazing greenery around you, the sound of the singing birds, and the rustle of the mice moving through the underbrush are not to be missed.
For anyone who enjoys peaceful, strenuous activity, I sincerely recommend visiting a Kletterwald Highropes park.
William Wellman is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
Photo courtesy and copyright William Wellman