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Switzerland 


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Administrators: Dan Flynn, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Bill Flaherty on Sep 28, 2008
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The granite walls of Salbit - from the approach.

Description 

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)


Guidebooks 

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.


277 Total Routes


['4 Stars',62],['3 Stars',132],['2 Stars',67],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',7],['5.7',6],['5.8',10],['5.9',28],['5.10',128],['5.11',55],['5.12',15],['5.13',1],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Switzerland:
Namenslose Kante 5a   5.8- 5b 16 VI- VS 4c     Trad, Sport, 9 pitches, 1100'   Bockmattli
Mittellegi Ridge 5b   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c A0     Aid, Alpine, 2000'   Eiger
Galengrat-verschneidung 5c   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 9 pitches   Furka Pass : Galengrat
NE Grat   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 11 pitches, 1150'   Zervreilahorn
Motörhead   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b     Trad, 14 pitches, 1600'   Grimsel : Eldorado
Blauer Käfer   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b     Sport, 6 pitches, 500'   Melchtal : Cheselenflue
Die Maenner von Memmental   5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a     Sport, 5 pitches, 500'   Melchtal : Cheselenflue
Browse More Classics in Switzerland

Featured Route For Switzerland
Pulling through the roof of Sennächäppi 7a

Sennächäppi 7a 5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a  Europe : Switzerland : ... : Bonistock / Melchsee-Frutt
7a10m easy, 10m hard, 10m easy.Hard climbing involves delicate traversing, crimping, and a bouldery move on good holds. Wicked fun.The anchor is far up to the left after pulling the roof....[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Switzerland Slideshow Add Photo
It was nice to stop and have a beer while on my hike at the base of the Eiger.
It was nice to stop and have a beer while on my hi...
View from Zermat after hiking down.
View from Zermat after hiking down.
Eiger and lake Geneva
Eiger and lake Geneva
The Eiger
The Eiger
1950's Sunrise on the Matterhorn from town
1950's Sunrise on the Matterhorn from town
The Eiger
The Eiger
Nothing says "Switzerland" better than this.
Nothing says "Switzerland" better than this.
The rock-solid Salbit hut.  Don't try that shutter decor at home.
The rock-solid Salbit hut. Don't try that shutter...
Jeff Buhl easing his way up a Swiss slab.  Gneiss!
Jeff Buhl easing his way up a Swiss slab. Gneiss!
Central Switzerland after a fresh dusting of snow. Photo taken from the crag in Ibergeregg.
Central Switzerland after a fresh dusting of snow....
Maikel vS, near Steingletscher on the Sustenpass
Maikel vS, near Steingletscher on the Sustenpass
Schrattenflue in canton Lucerne
Schrattenflue in canton Lucerne
Cold Eiger
Cold Eiger
Ossian B, cragging in hell on the east side of the Sustenpass just below Steingletscher
Ossian B, cragging in hell on the east side of the...
Coming up to the Mittellegi hut from the Eismeer glacier.
Coming up to the Mittellegi hut from the Eismeer g...
Brunnital, a side valley in the Schaechental, central Switzerland. Visible here is the imposing north face of the Gross Ruchen.  Quality, very long alpine sport climbing routes can be found on the north, east and south faces of the Wiss Stöckli (in front and slightly to right of the Gross Ruchen in this picture).
BETA PHOTO: Brunnital, a side valley in the Schaechental, cent...
Engelhorner hut.  One of many great Swiss huts right next to the climbing area.
Engelhorner hut. One of many great Swiss huts rig...
Wicked roof climbing in Arcegno, Ticino
Wicked roof climbing in Arcegno, Ticino
Englehorner climbing area.  Great trad routes with easy access from hut.
Englehorner climbing area. Great trad routes with...
Jeff Buhl cranking up the steep limestone of Melchsee-Frutt.
Jeff Buhl cranking up the steep limestone of Melch...
The important stuff!
The important stuff!
Tehya B cranking near Steingletscher on the Sustenpass
Tehya B cranking near Steingletscher on the Susten...
Grindelwald Locals <br />still need more cow bell?
Grindelwald Locals
still need more cow bell?
Crag at Ibergeregg, overlooking Lake Lucerne
Crag at Ibergeregg, overlooking Lake Lucerne
The slabs of Schoellenen
The slabs of Schoellenen
Salbit west ridge, from the Voralp valley near Göschenen
Salbit west ridge, from the Voralp valley near Gös...
Salbit, with a good view of the west, south and east ridges.  Taken from Oberalp.
BETA PHOTO: Salbit, with a good view of the west, south and ea...
Hooved company at the base of the Pfriendler climbing area on the Sustenpass
Hooved company at the base of the Pfriendler climb...
Matterhorn Summit 1950's ascent
Matterhorn Summit 1950's ascent
Jeff Buhl on the Gotthard pass in early June
Jeff Buhl on the Gotthard pass in early June
A giant wedge-o-slab beneath Grimsel Pass.  About 12 pitches to the top.
A giant wedge-o-slab beneath Grimsel Pass. About ...
Damma glacier, taken from above Goescheneralp
Damma glacier, taken from above Goescheneralp
Happened upon this boulder while on a day hike in the valley below Gimmelwald.  Not a particularly challenging climb but it felt necessary.
Happened upon this boulder while on a day hike in ...
Salbit bridge from the Voralp valley
Salbit bridge from the Voralp valley
Cragging in hell (seriously, that's the name of the sector) on the west side of the Sustenpass
Cragging in hell (seriously, that's the name of th...
Finsteraarhorn
BETA PHOTO: Finsteraarhorn
Enterprice 7a (V5) - Magic Wood
Enterprice 7a (V5) - Magic Wood
Comments on Switzerland Add Comment
Show which comments
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

By Brian
From: North Kingstown, RI
Nov 21, 2008

greez,
I was only in Switzerland for two weeks and had no problem finding long moderate trad routes. What about the Engelhorner?
Brian

By David Hertel
From: Sitka
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

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jan 12, 2011

David,

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.

By semicolin1
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
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.

By C Miller
Administrator
Dec 2, 2012