Bouldering in Chironico, Switzerland – bathing naked in the river and abandoned orphans

Switzerland and Chironico was a perfect stop on the way from Italy to Fontainebleau. We had a chance to see only a glimpse of the bouldering places, but definitely it is worth a visit. Chironico doesn’t offer services for van-people, but Mikael had no problems of taking a bath in the cold river.


Romy and Tarja having a morning moment before climbing.

Chironico is one of the best bouldering places in Switzerland. During the weekend it is also very popular. Even so much, that there is not enough real parking places for everyone. Other alternatives in Switzerland for bouldering are Cresciano, Brione, Magic wood and Gotthard, just to mention a few. We chose Chironico because Mikael has earlier good experience there, and the weather this time of the year is good for climbing.

According to Chironico bouldering topo-book eleven thousand years ago a huge landslide came off the hillside opposite of Chironico. Tons of rock rolled down the hill until they reached the river. The rocks filled the river bed and piled on top of each other, until the last ones scattered on the opposite slope. This area of boulders is now days Chironico. With the time the water found its ways forming lakes and carried stones down the valley, but the boulders of Chironico remaind like abandoned orphans.

Climber Richi Singer found these orphan stones in the early eighties. He started to explore the main area and doing the first routes. But the time was not right for Chironico yet. This was the case until 1995, when Richi returned with Andy Lusier, and started the real work doing some of the most famous routes still today. Also thanks to climbers like Michi, Ivan Tresch, Fred Nicole, Ueli Gygax and Dave Graham the area has seen big development. Today Chironico includes more than 1500 problems divided into 27 sectors.

We came to Chironico late at night and were very happy to get back to outdoor bouldering, since there had been quite a long break already. Our first task on the next morning was to find the Chironico bouldering guide. It is not so easy to find. Only limited number of places sell it and we had communication problems, since in Chironico the Italian language is dominant. Thanks to Google translator and my German we managed to find the book in the Chironico village from The Pizzo Forno (other places to get the book are: Leventina Turismo, Campeggio Gottardo, Ristorante Defanti, Campeggio al Censo etc.)

After we found the book it was time to concentrate on bouldering. During the next almost two weeks I managed to do some very nice lines like Rummikub 6b+, Good News 6a, Life is good 6a and Eyorjoi 6b. Mikael returned to his projects and succeeded making in his opinion not that many at all.. just Komilator 7c and Tomahawk 7b+ actually, but he tried hard 🙂



Mikael climbing just Komilator 7c.


The climbing in Chironico is excellent, but must say that the facilities for van climbers are almost non existent. The only possibility to take shower is to dive into the river and camping overall is forbidden. Even if there is clearly many vans there, it is not good idea to openly camp, at least that is the feeling we got. Also there is a trash fee, so you should either buy official rubbish bags from post office or store, or then take the trash with you back home. Good side, what comes to facilities is, that you get easily fresh mountain water from many water posts in the village.

These minor limiting factors were not stopping us still enjoying the place. Mikael took a shower in the river and for me we put, for the first time, use our van’s shower system. But that of course meant still taking a cold shower outside. Must say that even Mikael didn’t stay that long in the cold river and I wouldn’t say that he was having the best time of his life hopping from stone to stone naked. It was still funny for me to watch.

After a too short time, it was time to head to Font again. The weather was going to be bad in Chironico, so we made the decision to leave. What we didn’t know was that our dear friend Jolli had just arrived to Chironico and we missed him totally and are still devastated over this, specially because in Font the familiar rain welcomed us again.

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