Story: Ticino on the rocks

Madame Bovary, Popeye and Wolverine in Chironico

The valleys of Ticino are a paradise for lovers of bouldering and in the woods around Cresciano, Chironico, Brione Verzasca or the Saint Gotthard Pass it's not unusual to see people walking with a mattress on their backs. Whatever are they doing?

Problems: that word is usually unpopular, but not among bouldering lovers. In their case, the more problems a route has, the better. At first, it's a bit strange to talk with Anja, Diego, Enea and Claudio because you have the impression that you're not understanding what they're talking about, but after a few minutes their enthusiasm and passion capture you and you feel the urge to find a nice boulder to climb. And if you're in Chironico, Cresciano, Brione Verzasca or anywhere in the Ticino valleys, you're in the right place!

THE CHARACTER

Claudio Cameroni, pioneer of bouldering in Ticino

Claudio Cameroni, pioneer of bouldering in Ticino
Magnesia powder on your hands and plasters on your fingers: bouldering makes your whole body work.

THE COMPLETE STORY


What is bouldering?

This sport discipline was born by chance in the early 20th century, south of Paris, in the forest of Fontainebleau. This area was used as a training area for climbing expeditions to conquer the peaks of the Alps.

Between 1960 and '70, instead, bouldering became a true sport. About 30 years ago, this discipline finally reached Ticino. It's a real paradise for bouldering enthusiasts. Athletes from all over the world come to the Ticino valleys to tackle one of the many available open boulder routes.

Many things are fascinating in this activity: contact with nature, discovery of mysterious corners of a territory in which perfect boulders are hidden in a forest of maples and birches.

Not to be underestimated is also the physical and mental challenge of the climb and contact with others boulderers who are all part of a big family.

Have you done the Delorean? And the Border Line? I got a handhold here, a reverse there, a stretch to reach that cleat, and then a throw...

At first it's certainly not easy to understand what Claudio, Enea, Anja and Diego are saying.

Yes, because boulderers have their own private language, full of strange names (of the rocks and the routes on the various boulders) and verbs and expressions that are, to say the least, cryptic.

But then, when Anja climbs the Doctor Med Dent in a few seconds, everything becomes clearer.

Pro tip
Can you climb in the rain? Of course not! Here are two suggestions on how to dodge the bad weather: the Alphaboulder in Giubiasco or the Evolution climbing centre in Taverne.
There are over 12,000 boulderers who come to Chironico every year.
In some structures close to natural gyms, boulderers are welcome and at their disposal there’s space and material.

Claudio Cameroni, always a mountain lover, when he used to go up onto the ridges with his family and friends, he was attracted by the difficult passages, where you had to dare a little and use some climbing techniques.

The move to climbing with a rope – at 17 years of age – was therefore natural. For 20 years Claudio, with a set of carabiners and a rope on his shoulder, has climbed walls all over the world.

And then, the change: a little less resistance, but a little more impetus and freedom. In short: bouldering.

Claudio loves this sport. He has create some very detailed guides that include boulders, routes, names, GPS coordinates, degrees of difficulty and other useful information. He worked 3 years writing the first book.

Ticino boulder

Claudio’s children have also discovered bouldering. Diego and Giuliano are both passionate about this sport. 

“If someone heard us talking, they'd think we're crazy.”

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1, 2, 6A, 7B +, 8C: you just need to take a look at the classification system of the various boulder routes to understand how diverse and structured this discipline is but also difficult!

But the fame of these places hidden among the woods of the Leventina and other valleys is due to a social network of boulderers.

So, long live bouldering, a discipline that enhances a territory and its history. Just think that the boulders on which Diego, Enea and Anja climb in Chironico were brought downstream by a landslide 11,000 years ago!

You didn't expect that, did you? And, perhaps on that big boulder, maybe there is a route opened up by Claudio and you might wonder what name he gave it?

What is certain is that, from now on, we all will look at boulders with different eyes.

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