Ticino boasts a record for the highest number of free climbing spots on granite and gneiss in the Alps (around 70 places), featuring a wide choice of cliff faces and long routes. Ticino is thus one of the most popular places for free climbing in the entire Alpine range: from Vallemaggia to Onsernone Valley, from Verzasca to Leventina Valley, from the Luzzone dam (Blenio Valley) to the Denti della Vecchia (Lugano), the rock is generally excellent and well equipped. The offer is rounded off by the Evolution centre of Taverne, a modern facility for indoor climbing.
Free climbing enthusiasts will most definitely have a chance to match their strengths on Ticino’s granite and gneiss rock faces: there are, in fact, some 70 areas scattered throughout the area, where this sport can be practiced. There are loads of diverse and well-equipped rock walls, many of which have cracks serving as an aid to climbing.
The Locarno region: lake-view free climbing opportunities
The most famous places to practice free climbing in the neighborhood of Locarno are definitely Arcegno and Balladrum (on Monte Verità in Ascona). Just outside the residential area of Arcegno, amidst chestnut woods and small ponds of naturalistic interest, you will find countless well-equipped routes of different grades to suit all tastes: more than 100 single-pitch routes on very rough rock. From the summit of the walls, the view extends over lush natural surroundings, Locarno and the delta of River Maggia. Please note: in this area, natural environments and biotopes are protected! Climbing is permitted from spring to late autumn.
Along the forest road leading from Monte Verità to Ronco sopra Ascona you will find the two climbing areas of Balladrum. The lower part includes about ten technical routes of moderate difficulty, the upper part boasts the same number of routes which are, however, easy and ideal for beginners. The view over Lake Maggiore is absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. The place is very warm and sunny, meaning that clear winter days are most likely to be your best climbing option.
Climbing in Vallemaggia
Vallemaggia, with its vast mountainous territory, offers beautiful and diverse natural rock faces for free climbing: at the entrance to the valley in Ponte Brolla, at Avegno, Cevio, Someo, Brontallo (Lavizzara Valley), Bosco Gurin or Naret, you have the opportunity to test your skills on cliff faces or particularly long trails.
Ponte Brolla is a classic destination for aficionados of ‘plaisir’ climbing. An area set within wild natural surroundings highlighted by the scenic gorges of River Maggia, further enhanced by a magnificent view over the region. In the area you can find hundreds of well-equipped routes for climbers of all levels, many of which are also ideal for beginners.
Avegno in the Torbeccio area offers a number of easy and difficult routes, while the rock walls
behind the grottos are distinguished by the length of the trails.
Someo and Cevio boast free climbing cliff faces for high grade enthusiasts while the wild Val
Calnegia (Val Bavona) offers longer, more difficult routes for those who prefer friction climbing.
Upstream of Bosco Gurin, the highest village in Ticino, in a magnificent Alpine basin standing at an altitude of 2,300 meters you will find a wide choice of breathtaking, well-equipped routes. They stretch over solid, rough gneiss having a granite-like appearance, distinguished by plates, crevices and vertical walls with notches for climbers of all levels and all styles. The ideal period for climbing the area above Bosco Gurin is from spring to late autumn. Owing to the fact that it is situated near to the alpine crest, the area is strongly influenced by northerly winds meaning that climbers should watch out for sudden changes in the weather.
Immediately above the town of Brontallo (Lavizzara Valley), the magnificent, sunny rock face of “El Cat” offers various athletic, technical and resistance climbing options on well-worn, solid gneiss, along some twenty well-equipped routes.
On account of being exposed to the south, southwest, this rock face is suitable for winter, spring and autumnal climbs. During the winter season it is kissed by the sun from 10am to 3pm. Conversely, during warmer months, climbing is not recommended.
In the same valley, an imposing, steep, white-striated wall, furrowed with crevices and overhangs characterizes the cliff above the village of Prato Sornico. A tough, thrilling climbing-area that tends to be overcast in the morning and sunny in the afternoon and features more than 50 single-pitch routes of moderate to high difficulty.
Also Naret boasts a number of different, well-equipped routes, which are, however, all of Alpine nature.
Rock faces in Onsernone Valley
Just above the village of Russo you will find the eponymous cliff: a scenic, peaceful, sunny area, even during short winter days. On this rock face there are around 40 pitches and the climb features several vertical, challenging gaping crevices.
The plates of Paleria, in Berzona, offer various climbing routes featuring several friction-style pitches. The lower part is suitable for beginners while the upper part is recommended for more expert climbers.
Climbing in Verzasca Valley
In addition to a beautiful river with crystal-clear waters, Verzasca Valley offers a number of magnificent free climbing areas.
On the imposing, vertical, south-facing rock wall of Eus, boasting more than 300 meters of truly outstanding, varied rock, you will find several high-level routes, among the most beautiful in Ticino. An ideal spot for mid-season and, in the absence of snow, even winter climbing.
The southern rock face of Poncione d’Alnasca, both isolated and exposed, is probably the most beautiful in the whole of Ticino. On this grandiose pyramid standing at an altitude of 500 meters, you will find a number of different routes. However, this type of rock is only suitable for truly expert climbers.
Climbing routes in the valleys Bedretto and Leventina
Pizzo Prévat, Cristallina, Passo del San Gottardo, Piansecco, Chüebodenhorn, Poncione di Ruino and Passo di Maniò: these are just some of the breathtaking climbing routes in the region lying behind San Gottardo.
In Bedretto Valley, on Poncione di Ruino and Poncione di Cassina Baggio you can find a number of varied and interesting alpine trails. Its relatively high altitude, its favorable position and the variety of itineraries available mean that climbers can tackle these rock faces during all seasons (even in winter, by following the approach on skis, climbers can embark on a number of pleasant ascents).
There are also some interesting cliffs in the vicinity of the Piansecco Hut.
Finally, at Passo di Maniò, there are more than 30 well-equipped, single-pitch routes of moderate to high difficulty on rock that is generally excellent.
Another mountain which is well known to climbers is Pizzo Prévat in Leventina Valley: an elegant, slender rocky tower that rises above the meadows of Alpe Campolungo, renowned for its graceful, harmonious shape. Its rock faces boast a number of beautiful alpine trails.
Alpe Campolungo is easily accessible via the cableway that ascends from Prato Leventina as far as Lake Tremorgio, from where you continue by foot.
The Luzzone dam
This imposing rock face acts as a challenge to countless climbers. More than 650 artificial handholds have been installed on the concave wall of the dam for 165m of sheer verticality, where those climbing it have to reach five pitches and where, in succession, each length of rope is more demanding than the previous one. A unique rock face of stunning scenic beauty!
To climb the dam you need to ask for the access keys, available at the restaurant lying adjacent to dam.
Denti della Vecchia
Situated in the mountains acting as a backdrop to the gulf of Lugano, the "Denti della Vecchia" represent one of Ticino’s most historic climbing areas. Generations of climbers have explored the walls, cliffs and precipices of these small, evocative ‘Ticino Dolomites’. The "Denti della Vecchia" offer climbing enthusiasts more than 120 routes of different grades. The view from its summits are breathtaking and embrace the entire area of Lugano, stretching towards the peaks of Vallemaggia, Verzasca Valley and further on, the Valais Alps.
The main starting point to climb the "Denti della Vecchia" is the Pairolo Hut, which also boasts a rock face for climbing on its outer wall. All the necessary gear is available on site.
Info: Capanna Pairolo - Tel. 091 944 11 56 - www.capannapairolo.ch
Evolution Climbing Centre
The Evolution Centre of Taverne is an indoor reference point for mountaineering sports and, in particular, free climbing and bouldering. Designed for enthusiasts of all levels, it features a spacious, luminous structure, boasting 1,400 sq.m of climbing surface, more than 6,000 climbing holds and dozens of free climbing and bouldering routes. Equipped with the most modern standards of safety in Europe and relying on a team of highly qualified staff, the Centre offers a variety of courses for enthusiasts of all ages. On-site amenities include a restaurant and relaxation area with a view over the climbing walls, a sports shop and an equipment hire-point.
Info: Centro di Arrampicata Evolution, Taverne - Tel 091 930 91 18 - email@example.com - www.evolutioncenter.ch