Practically the whole of Switzerland provides great rock climbing, but the largest and most famous area is probably the Bernese Oberland. Local climbing guide Marcel Schmed describes some of the highlights.
Right in the centre of Switzerland, it’s easily accessible from the resort of Interlaken with its stunning blue lake and the famous Jungfraujoch – an enchanting landscape and alpine environment in which to enjoy the sport.
The adventurous multi-pitch routes tend to be traditional alpine-style routes that generally require trad gear such as cams and nuts, but there are also some well-protected routes on offer. Limestone, granite, gneiss – whatever a climber’s heart desires, it’s all here.
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Marcel Schmed is professional guide and CEO of YOYO Kletterschule, the first climbing school in Switzerland. For the past 20 years, the school has specialised in teaching techniques, rescue management, clean climbing etc.) and now offers courses not just in Switzerland but around southern Europe, USA and Morocco. The team consists of nine experieneced moutain guides, committed to to improving...
A total of 13 pitches on quality granite – diverse and spectacular climbing, and perfectly protected. This is a Grimsel classic. Mostly made of of slab, the route becomes steeper higher up. The splendid 7th pitch follows a steep crack for more than 30 metres. The climb is very popular, so an early start is recommended. Abseiling is the only way back down. In a strong wind, only climb as far as pitch 9.
If you like slabs, cracks and dihedrals in solid granite, you’ll find them all on the south face of Eldorado-Dom. The 14 pitches, with only a few bolts, have retained their authentic alpine character. Even after retrofitting this ascent remains quite challenging. In spring and early summer snow may remain in the descent couloir. At the top the views to the 4,000-metre peaks of Finsteraarhorn and Lauteraarhorn, as well as the Unteraar glacier, are spectacular.
This is an aweseome climb up the northeast wall – long and alpine! Studying the descent (4-5 hours) and the weather forcast is recommended. Some 16 pitches lead up to the dramatic peak.
Coarse gneiss in the Pfriendler sector, this excellent, well protected, seven-pitch climb is one of the finest in the Alps. Abseiling is possible with a 50-metre rope. This wall is suprisingly steep compared with the common slabs in the area. Also recommended is the neigbouring route, Tröimli.
Ten fantastic pitches of slab, crack, dihedrals – next to the funicular train to Gelmer Lake. It remains perhaps the most famous climbing route - Handegg was the first real sport climbing area in Switzerland, established back in 1978 by Jürg von Känel and Martin Stettler.
Best times to go:
The ideal time to visit the Swiss Alps for rock climbing is during the summer (late May to early October) due to the high altitude of the area.
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