The granite walls of Salbit - from the approach.
Quite possibly the best country in the world for a climber to visit. Take your pick: granite, limestone, or gneiss - all of it splitter, and most of it bolted. Walls tend to be big, and if you're coming from North America, the vertical relief will take some getting used to. The hut system is great, providing quick access to climbs and hearty fare at a reasonable price.
If you're a fan of granite, check out Salbit (www.salbit.ch). There are many routes in the 500-700 foot range - along with a few marathon routes over 2,000 feet. You supplement the almost-adequate bolts with cams. Rock quality is superb. The hutkeeper, Hans Berger, whips up killer food and has one heck of an alpine resume.
For limestone, Melchsee-Frutt is a gorgeous mountain getaway that serves as a popular ski area in winter. In summer, you can enjoy the most pristine limestone walls I've ever seen. Varying in height, with many sections nearly 1,000 feet tall, they are supremely well-bolted.
For gneiss, there is a mongo slab just below the famous granite area of Grimsel Pass. Get your slab-climbing mojo on, as the bolts are very sparse, and some are rather old.
Of course you can get scared and cold at the same time climbing famous alpine walls like the Eiger North Face, but someone else will need to log on to explain why that's fun.
Beyond the climbing, Switzerland offers a unique opportunity to sample Italian, French, and German language, cuisine, and culture in its various regions. Well worth a visit!
Goals of these pages
There is so much rock in Switzerland. Too much for one website to describe comprehensively! The goal of these pages is to document many of the most worthwhile climbing areas (sport, trad; alpine and single pitch, and a bit of bouldering) and with useful details for some of the best routes. Hopefully this will be useful for visitors in getting oriented.
That said, if you want to add routes for your ticklist, please go ahead!
A note on geographic organization:
Here the areas are listed alphabetically, but other information can be found about areas organized:
- by canton (topodb.ch, rockclimbing.com/routes/Europe/Switzerland/)
- by region (www.scalamalade-areas.com/en/ )
- by north, east, south, west (the Filidor guidebooks, and chmoser.ch)
There are a ton of books you could get. For visiting climbers interested in alpine multipitch tours and single pitch sport climbing, the most useful books are the Filidor series, which divides the country into four broad regions (east, west, Jura, and south).
The series is divided into 'Plaisir' and 'Extrem' volumes, with the former covering areas emphasizing up to 6b (5.10b) climbing, and the latter covering areas dominated by the harder climbs. But plaisir areas still include topos for climbs up to 7a (5.11d) and even harder, while extrem areas may still have some 5c climbs in there.
Plaisir West and Plaisir Ost might be the two most useful books to start with. Newer and forthcoming versions have English, otherwise you can more or less figure it out.
The Swiss Alpine Club has its own series of guidebooks, which are massive, detailed, and pricy. These are generally more localized by canton, but great references if you know exactly where you want to go.
And then there are specialized books for areas like Gastlosen in Bern, Valsertal in Grabünden, or the canton of Glarus.
Browse More Classics in Switzerland
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Switzerland:
Featured Route For Switzerland
Die Maenner von Memmental
: ... : Cheselenflue
A stellar route, defined by its wildly exposed, crux third pitch. Pitch 1: 6b, up a steep slab on reasonably good holds.Pitch 2: 6c+, continues up the slab to its end and then into steeper terrain above on good holds. There is a distinct crux move just above the end of the slabby section. Pitch 3: 7a, from a comfortable ledge (anchor shared with the Blauer Kaefer), the route traverses right, onto an overhanging slab of rock that juts out into space. On the slab, the line continues up and to t...[more] Browse More Classics in International
A giant wedge-o-slab beneath Grimsel Pass. About ...
Jeff Buhl easing his way up a Swiss slab. Gneiss!
Nothing says "Switzerland" better than this.
Jeff Buhl cranking up the steep limestone of Melch...
The important stuff!
The rock-solid Salbit hut. Don't try that shutter...
It was nice to stop and have a beer while on my hi...
View from Zermat after hiking down.
Coming up to the Mittellegi hut from the Eismeer g...
Engelhorner hut. One of many great Swiss huts rig...
Englehorner climbing area. Great trad routes with...
still need more cow bell?
1950's Sunrise on the Matterhorn from town
Matterhorn Summit 1950's ascent
Enterprice 7a (V5) - Magic Wood
Happened upon this boulder while on a day hike in ...
Cragging in hell (seriously, that's the name of th...
Maikel vS, near Steingletscher on the Sustenpass
Tehya B cranking near Steingletscher on the Susten...
Ossian B, cragging in hell on the east side of the...
Crag at Ibergeregg, overlooking Lake Lucerne
Central Switzerland after a fresh dusting of snow....
Salbit west ridge, from the Voralp valley near Gös...
BETA PHOTO: Brunnital, a side valley in the Schaechental, cent...
Hooved company at the base of the Pfriendler climb...
The slabs of Schoellenen
Jeff Buhl on the Gotthard pass in early June
BETA PHOTO: Salbit, with a good view of the west, south and ea...
Damma glacier, taken from above Goescheneralp
Wicked roof climbing in Arcegno, Ticino
Salbit bridge from the Voralp valley
Schrattenflue in canton Lucerne
|By marco mueller|
Oct 17, 2008
I am from Switzerland and I am in love with trad climbing. It is not easy to get information about trad climbs here at all. We do not have a DB like UK climbing... We do have dozens of climbing guides for bolted sport stuff but none for trad climbs (except the "keep wild" guide which only includes long alpine climbs).
swizzy, so much rock - and even more bolts...
go climbing in switzerland: besides the alpine routes you just finde bolted sport climbing. Ask people about nice crags to trad climb single pitches - they'll starr at you like your nuts.
we would have so much of nice solid rock for trad climbing (göschenen, grimsel, alto-ticino just to mention some areas) there is no big trad scene, just some freaks who do like theire E8 stuff at secret spots, the alpinists who do the multipitches - but the rest is sport climbers!
For me, a swiss guy want to climb moderate trad routes let's say one to three pitches, I have to finde them myself.
So thats what I do. Maybe I'll put up some info here sometime...
greez from swizzy
From: North Kingstown, RI
Nov 21, 2008
I was only in Switzerland for two weeks and had no problem finding long moderate trad routes. What about the Engelhorner?
|By David Hertel|
From: Sitka, AK
Jan 11, 2011
Just curious why there is no info on MP about the Eiger other than a handfull of people who snapped a photo from Grindelwald (myself included)? It seems to me that the most notorious face in climbing would have more info posted about it on an online climbing community. It is my dream to climb the north face (via the 1938 route) and I would like to be a mountain guide in Switzerland at some point in my life. These dreams are lofty indeed, but I'll get there eventually. I'm just a little dissapointed that there is no more information on the Eiger here. I have tons of other resources for the face, but it would be nice to see something posted on MP about it
From: Morrison, CO
Jan 12, 2011
The database is built by the users. The Eiger is not in the database, because none of our users have climbed it, (or if they have, they haven't bothered to submit it). Perhaps once you do it you can add it to the database! In the mean time, this is about the the closest thing we've got. Hope its enough to get your palms sweaty.
Jan 14, 2011
Regarding finding information... I'll be visiting Kandersteg this summer (2011) and would like to climb. Sport climbs, day-long trad routes, easy to moderate alpine routes... Can anyone recommend a book that I can order that covers the area immediately around Kandersteg or crags that are a short train ride away? On another note, do any shops rent hardware such as a rack and quickdraws so we'd only have to bring a rope and harnesses? Any info would be greatly appreciated!
|By David Hertel|
From: Sitka, AK
Jan 14, 2011
I shall look forward to putting the 1938 route on MP once I climb it, providing it's not up before I get to it. I can barely wait!
|By James Garrett|
Aug 20, 2012
The latest Plaisir West, Plaisir Selection, and Swiss Extreme West are all translated into English. The Plaisir Ost will also soon be available as a second updated edition and also in English.