Climbing in the sunny part of Switzerland: Tessin Rock | climbing guide

The mild climate, the possibility of climbing all year round, the quality of many areas, the variety of styles and difficulties and the calm on most of the rocks make Ticino a top choice climbing destination. In the fourth edition of Tessin Rock, Egon Bernasconi presents his climbing home on 480 pages.

The Tessin, is, at least from the perspective of climbing fans, a jack of all trades: in a relatively small area there is a high density of attractive rocks of various difficulties, styles and exposures, plus there is plenty of sunshine and often mild temperatures. And on top of that, numerous walls are still waiting to be discovered, cleaned and opened up.

Ticino---Sonnenstube-of-Switzerland
Weather forecasts like these (as of January 30, 2023) have made Ticino a popular climbing destination, especially in the cold months. Source: MeteoSwiss

Ticino Rock: 69 areas, 3450 routes

In the fourth edition of Tessin Rock author Egon Bernasconi 69 crags with a total of 3450 routes. These include well-known and extremely popular areas such as Ponte Brolla, Claro or Rovine del Castelliere, which are frequented accordingly. In addition, Ticino offers a large selection of areas in which one is very often alone.

Tessin Rock includes 69 climbing areas in Locarnese, Valle Maggia, Bellinzona, Moesano, Riviera with Val di Blenio, Sottoceneri and Leventina. Presentation: Versante Sud
Ticino rock includes 69 climbing areas in Locarnese, Valle Maggia, Bellinzona, Moesano, Riviera with Val di Blenio, Sottoceneri and Leventina. Presentation: Versante Sud

Best season: spring and autumn

Even if you can find climbing crags in all aspects and at different altitudes in Ticino, spring and autumn are among the best times of the year. Autumn is even considered to have less rain. In dry conditions, the south-facing walls are also attractive climbing destinations in winter.

Especially when it comes to bouldering, many climbing pros appreciate the "wintry" conditions in Ticino, which promote friction on high-end routes. Those who make a pilgrimage through Chironico or the Val Bavona in January and February can observe the who's who of the European climbing scene in their preferred habitat.

Giuliano Cameroni climbs Father & Son. Photo: Egon Bernasconi
Giuliano Cameroni climbs Father & Son. Image: Egon Bernasconi

Big potential

A lot of new things have been developed in Ticino in recent years. Compared to the third edition of Tessin Rock, a total of 30 new sectors have been added. Many of the well-known areas have been expanded or rehabilitated.

Author Egon Bernasconi is convinced that many new walls will be opened up in the coming years. "Even if the possibilities are not infinite, they are far from exhausted."

cevio-missputa
Author Egon Bernasconi (www.rock-ways.ch) in action.

3 questions for author Egon Bernasconi

Egon, what makes Ticino so special from your point of view?

In Ticino, mainly gneiss is climbed, except in the southern part around Lugano, where limestone is climbed, or in the areas further north, where granite can also be found. As a result, the climbing and bouldering is predominantly technical. For me, the strengths of Ticino are:

The mild climate that invites you to climb all year round. The silence. In fact, there is an abundance of little-used sectors. The heterogeneity of styles and difficulties: slabs, vertical walls, overhangs, endurance routes or friction climbs offer something for every taste and every level.

Which spots do you recommend for Ticino newcomers?

As for the best options for beginners, it is impossible not to mention the super classic «Rovine del castelliere» in Ponte Brolla. The nearby Tegna slabs also offer excellent climbing opportunities for beginners.

More recently, the Balladrum crag (panoramic sector), which overlooks Lake Maggiore, is another excellent option. In addition, it is impossible not to mention Arcegno, which, with its many rocks scattered in a fantastic chestnut wood, offers many beautiful and easy routes.

Which three Ticino routes do you have to try once in your life?

This is a really tough question, and almost impossible to answer without being swayed by some subjectivity. The beauty of a route is often also linked to its importance to us, and this sometimes goes beyond the objective beauty of the line. So instead of just proposing three routes, I am proposing a list. A route for each grade from 5b to 8c:

  • 5b Tosty bacon II, San Carlo Val Bavona, set gate Holy Hole
  • 5c Un senso, Bosco Gurin, settore buoni o cattivi
  • 6a Perles, Denti della vecchia settore spigolose destra
  • 6b Anche le formiche nel loro piccolo s'inkazzano, Sotalpizz, settore letamaio
  • 6c Flower power Brontallo, settore El Cat.
  • 7a L'artlio del diavolo, Ponte Brolla, settore est.
  • 7b Dracula, Avegno, settore zio Fiasco
  • 7c Karmageddon, Avegno, settore Underzero
  • 8a MissPuta, Cevio, settore Goldensciaur
  • 8b Beautiful, Cresciano
  • 8c K19, Chironico

easy rider 2
Mild temperatures, varied rock, lots of peace and quiet: Ticino is worth a visit in many ways. Picture: Egon Bernasconi

Ticino Rock Climbing Guide

The fourth edition of Ticino Rock Climbing Gardens presents 69 climbing areas with a total of 4350 routes. A solid and reliable guide to the vertical beauties of Ticino with detailed approach sketches, aerial photographs, colored topos and numerous climbing images.

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Credits: Cover photo Eric Gehring

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