Switzerland is situated in the heart of the Alps and as such is a very mountainous country with many peaks over 4,000m. There are extensive mountaineering opportunities involving these peaks, with the most famous being the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch near Interlaken and the Matterhorn near Zermat in the south. As well as mountaineering there are many pure rock climbing areas within Switzerland across a variety of rock including granite, limestone and gneiss.
There are 3 distinct climbing areas in Switzerland as shown on the map opposite, which are:
The Jura Mountains are a small mountain range in northern Switzerland, separating the Rhine and Rhone rivers. This region stretches from Lake Geneva and extends into France and Germany. The majority of the rock climbing is on limestone rock though there are some granite crags as well such as Falkenstein. There is a good mixture between single pitch sport routes through to long multi-pitch routes. Generally all the routes are well bolted though some of the multi-pitch routes do require Trad gear such as cams and nuts.
The climbing in the Jura Mountains is generally at a lower altitude than the main alpine regions of Switzerland making this area ideal to visit if the weather is bad in the mountains or during the autumn and spring seasons. With regards to guidebooks, the area is covered by Schweiz Plaisir Jura, which details the routes at grades up to F6c. Buy Schweiz Plaisir Jura from our shop.
The Swiss Alps are divided by the Rhine River to form the Western Alps and the Eastern Alps. The Western Alps (sometimes known as the Bernese Oberland region) is the largest rock climbing area in Switzerland that includes Interlaken and the famous mountains of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch. The limestone rock here provides many bolted single pitch and multi-pitch routes, many of which are 100’s of metres long. The multi-pitch routes tend to be traditional alpine style routes that generally require Trad gear such as cams and nuts, but there will also be some fixed gear as well. The largest bouldering area of this region is at Kandersteg that is a mixture of limestone and sandstone rock.
The ideal time to visit the Western Swiss Alps for rock climbing is during the summer due to the high altitude of the area. There are 2 comprehensive guidebooks for the areas; Schweiz Plaisir West that details routes at grades up to F6b; and Schweiz ExtremWest guidebook that details routes at grades from F6b and above. Buy ExtremWest guidebook from our shop.
The area around Andermatt and Grimsel also offers many bolted single pitch and multi-pitch sport routes up to 400m long, though the rock in this area is mainly granite with some limestone as well. The multi-pitch routes in this area are a mixture of fully bolted to traditional alpine style where cams and nuts will be required. There are also numerous granite bouldering areas with the largest being around the Grimselpass and Gotthardpass, both of which are covered the Swiss Bloc guidebook that can bought from our shop.
The ideal time to visit the Eastern Swiss Alps for rock climbing is during the summer due to the high altitude of the area. The comprehensive guidebook for the rock climbing in this area is called Schweiz Plaisir Ostthat details routes at grades up to F6c. Buy Schweiz Plaisir Ost from our shop.
There are many bouldering areas in Switzerland, with the well known ones being the granite boulders of Magic Wood, Cresciano, and Chironico in the east of the country. These areas are at a lower altitude than the main alpine regions of Switzerland, and are located in forests, making them ideal to visit in the autumn and spring.
The Swiss Bloc 1 guidebook covers the Magic Wood area plus the best of the bouldering in the Alps area, at places such as Kandersteg, Gotthardpass and Grimsel. Buy Swiss Bloc 1 guidebook from our shop.