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Bouldering in Swizterland - but not the infamous Magic Wood

3RD ROCK's Ambassador Michaela Tracey bouldering in Switzerland

Michaela taking in the sights on a Rest day. Sporting the Charlie sweat.

Our Ambassador, Michaela, recently headed over to Switzerland to work some of the harder boulders in & around Ticino.

 

Unfortunately Michaela tore her ACL in 2023 and had to spend most of the year in recovery slowly getting her leg back up to the strength. Switzerland was a test to see if all the rehab in 2023 worked - but it also acted as a mental challenge to trust her leg again.

 

Because of her injury, there was more to consider on this trip, rather than just focussing on the grades of the boulders.

 

It's not just down to thinking about your movement on the rock - it's also the landings... are they flat, high-up, will falling off a certain move send you spiralling down to the pad?

 

Read along to see how the trip went, if projects were indeed sent, and if there's anything you could learn for your next bouldering excursion.

🌧️ Planning & weather woes

Michaela spent around a month in Switzerland, but as per usual with European climbing trips: rain hindered her climbing plans for a significant portion of that time.

 

Despite this, she managed to spend about two weeks on the rocks, exploring areas like Brione, Chironico and Cresciano.

Working a balancy move on "Randy's Slab" 7b+

🧗‍♀️ Choosing where & what to climb

Rather than opting for Magic Wood, where most boulderers set their sights when heading to Switzerland, Michaela chose to explore Brione and nearby areas.

 

3R: Why did you chose Ticino over Magic Wood? Is it a case of wanting somewhere new?

 

Michaela: I've never actually been to Magic Wood. The biggest reason is that the weather was a bit too cold this time around. Also, I've heard Magic Wood is a bit overclimbed and a little too popular.

 

I had some friends also staying in Brione so I could meet up with them and climb a bit too. They're from America so I've not seen them for a while, and it was their first time in Switzerland.

 

I had recently visited Cresciano and already knew there were some really cool areas I wanted to explore and climb in - and I heard of two routes in Brione: "Real Pamplemousse" & "Fake Pamplemousse", and I'd seen how beautiful the rock was there so I wanted to climb there too.

Watch Michaela send "Fake Pamplemousse", one of her 3 8a ascents.

💪 From a torn ACL to 8A boulders

This was the first proper climbing Michaela took on after tearing her ACL and spending basically the whole of 2023 in rehab.

3R: Were you nervous to push it after you injury last year?

 

Michaela: At the start I was definitely focussed on doing more lowball climbs, and then gradually increasing either how weird the fall was or how high the boulder was.

 

Basically it was risk calculation - how good was the landing, how weird the fall was, or how high off the ground I am... I would do one of those factors at a time.

3R: So it wasn't as much about the grade or the moves of the boulder as much as it was the fall or getting down? You weren't worried about high feet and heel hooks?

 

Michaela: I've been doing a lot of rehab strength stuff for my leg, so unless it's one or two really weird moves, I'm not that concerned... it's more the falling off.

 

There was this one move in particular I had to hold back on though, it was a far left heel hook and I just didn't have the strength to hold it, which was a bit annoying. I could do the rest of the climb but it was that one move (that wasn't even the hard bit) that meant I couldn't get it.

Michaela pulling on "Team Work" - another one of the 3 8a routes she sent

3R: So in terms of the actual routes you were climbing, what did you find the most challeging?

 

Michaela: Well, I did three 8a boulders when I was there, Teamwork, Entwash and Fake Pamplemousse.

 

For me, Teamwork was the easiest of the 3, and I think Fake Pamplemousse was the hardest physically - even though it fit me really well. Entwash took me the longest to do, which was 2 sessions... but the weather was terrible the first session!

 

Weirdly the climb that took the most effort wasn't one of those three, it was a climb called The Black Pearl... I got all the moves and thought "this is gonna be a walk in the park", but just couldn't link the moves together. Maybe because I was only climbing short bouldering when training.

 

When trying to get it, I was hissing like a snake... it was a little embarrasing!

Eventhough it wasn't the highest grade, the route "Black Pearl" (7c+) put up the biggest fight of the trip!

Considerations when climbing in Switzerland

3R: When planning a trip to Switzerland, is there any advise you would share or any areas you'd recommend?

 

Michaela: So I think Brione out of all the areas is considered harder - if you're climbing 7c to 8b then it's probably a happy place to be. If you're climbing harder grades or easier grades then your choices become limited.

 

People do go to Brione to climb slightly lower grades, but there are better options for grades like 7a in Switzerland... I mean I didn't climb any particularly good 7a's out there.

 

People want to go there because it's cool and in-fashion at the moment, which is fine but just be aware of the grades out there.

"Le Pilier" - an 8a boulder in Chironico

Somewhere like Chironico which is nearby, has a lot more options across all grade ranges... it's a bigger area too.

 

You can also stay in a van there which is rare for Switzerland - Brione you can and it's free whereas in Chironico you have to pay something like 12 Franks a night, which I'm not against to be honest.

 

I think that when there's a lot of climbers, people in the nearby villages have to put up with a lot so to get something back from it is a good thing. It's a way for climbing to feed back into the local economy.

Noteworthy ascents:

Michaela's trip to Ticino saw a lot of awesome and memorable sends, but the highlights from the trip are

 

  • Fake Pamplemousse - 8a
  • Teamwork - 8a
  • Entwash - 8a
  • Black Pearl - 7c+

Another Chironico 8a: "Walker on Earth"

Conclusion: Chironico, the place to go for a wide range of grades & styles

So, if you're looking to head to Switzerland for some bouldering but don't want to go to the high popular Magic Wood - give Chironico a look!

 

Offering a wide range of grades, a big area to avoid being overcrowded, and allowing you to feed back into local economies meaning climbers are more welcomed - it seems like a win on all fronts!

 

If you're looking to push yourself in the 7c - 8b range... give Brione a go!

Some of the pieces Michaela rocked in Switzerland

BATABOOM UNISEX

Luna Bra

Daphne

SATURN

GEORGIE TEE

CHARLIE SWEAT

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