Cresciano, Swiss Granite Bouldering

Frank Boettiger on a Font 7c+ in area 3 of Cresciano, Switzerland., 208 kb
Frank Boettiger on a Font 7c+ in area 3 of Cresciano, Switzerland.
Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC, Jan 2011
© Jack Geldard

Sadly, there is no amount of overbite which guarantees success, 111 kb
Sadly, there is no amount of overbite which guarantees success
midgets of the world unite
© stuart littlefair
The Swiss bouldering venue of Cresciano is world famous.

It's famous for hard boulder problems like Dream Time from Fred Nicole or The story of two worlds from Dave Graham.

It's famous for its beautiful setting, with cool, grey granite jumbled amongst warm, gold chestnut trees. It's famous for offering some of the best alpine bouldering, ranging from nice and easy to outrageously hard. It's famous for beautiful moves, powerful crimpfests and some inspiring tall lines.

Part of its fame might also lie in its beautiful surrounding landscape - the nearby Maggia Valley with its gorgeous river and a huge amount of multipitch climbing.

Cresciano is nearly famous for being famous.

But, Cresciano is not huge. It's rather small and select. With approximately 600 problems, it offers everybody plenty to play on - but it's not a large venue like the Peak District or Fontainebleau.

On the positive side, it is really difficult to get lost in the long-stretched area on the hilltop. The 16 sectors are neatly strung together on a ridge between the villages of Cresciano and Osogna. The crag is located in Ticino, the canton in the very south of Switzerland. This Italian speaking area is home to the beautiful city of Locarno and includes the famous lakes Maggiore and Lugano.

The light grey granite of Cresciano is rough, sometimes sharp, and therefore hardcore boulderers swear that in the summertime it is too hot for bouldering.

But even if the designated prime time for bouldering is in winter, if you are on the look out for some moderate-grade fun, the boulders of Cresciano are certainly worth a visit in summer too. However to get the balance just right, and get the most out of a visit, spring and autumn certainly are your best bet.

The climbing is varied: from slabs to steep roofs, from technical face climbs to inviting traverses and enticing aretes. There is something for everyone and you won't get bored.

VIDEO: Bouldering in Cresciano

PHOTO GALLERY: Cresciano Bouldering

A visiting German climber on the super-short Font 7b arete in Area 3, Cresciano, Switzerland
Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC, Jan 2011
© Jack Geldard

A classic Cresciano arete problem - Arcadia - at one of the first areas you come to - (7c), 150 kb
A classic Cresciano arete problem - Arcadia - at one of the first areas you come to - (7c)
© Sarah Burmester
The contorted crack goes at 7b from a standing start., 142 kb
The contorted crack goes at 7b from a standing start.
© Sarah Burmester

Adam Ondra proving he's a world class boulderer by flashing Confessions (Font 8B/+) in Switzerland, 142 kb
Adam Ondra proving he's a world class boulderer by flashing Confessions (Font 8B/+) in Switzerland
© Vojtech Vrzba /

The climbing area lies on a flat plateau above the tiny hamlet shown on the photo, a kilometre above the village of Cresciano
© Sarah Burmester

Walking in to Cresciano with alpine scenery in the background
© Sarah Burmester


When do I go?
As Cresciano is located on the south side of the Alps, a rather warm and mild climate dominates. It does rain occasionally, but the weather in general is very good. It does get very hot in summer. Best times are probably between February and May, as well as between September and November - some might still prefer winter in order to go for the hard, friction-dependent sends.

How do I get there?
If you want to approach Europe flying, you might go to Lugano. By combining buses and trams, you can go to Cresciano. Or, with a bit more driving involved, you might choose to go to Zurich (or Milano in Italy) and then travel south (from Milano, north) to the Ticino with a rental car. Once there, the area is manageable by bike or foot. Still, a car is helpful, if you choose to stay further away than the campsite in Claro or if you think of doing other things but bouldering, too. Cresciano lies close to the motorway 2. If you drive there, the Gotthard Road Tunnel is what you are heading for - and only half an hour after the passage, you will find Bellinzona, from where you head towards Cresciano in a couple of minutes drive. The village of Cresciano is fairly small.

1001 Bloc - Fully Equipped with kitchen, bathrooms and bar!, 111 kb
1001 Bloc - Fully Equipped with kitchen, bathrooms and bar!
© Sarah Burmester
Where do I stay?
The Guest House "1001 Bloc" in Cresciano has been designed for Boulderers. The hostel offers clean and modern comfortable bunk rooms (two to six beds per room) and a double room with private bathroom. It has toilets and showers on each floor. Further services are: Luggage, crashpad and bicycle storage and crashpad renting. So this is everything you need, plus a little coffee bar and a in-house climbing shop with all the essentials and a bit more. Pets are welcome. Prices range between 35 to 50 Swiss Francs, depending on room size, and include accommodation and kitchen use.
Address: Via Pro da Cà, CH-6705 Cresciano; phone: +41 (0)91 880 6969; E-mail:

The beautiful camping site "Al Censo" in Claro is worth recommending. The site is not cheap, but offers very nice spaces surrounded by palm trees. It has a swimming pool and the view up to the huge rock faces with its waterfalls is very impressive. The owners speak English, German and Italian. On the downside, the Swiss thoroughness will probably drive you to hate the whole of Europe when you find yourself trying to separate the waste from your stay in the many different bins and containers. Fresh breadrolls in the morning and a nice common room for guests might make up for it. The site lies at the end of the neighbouring village of Claro, about a mile from Cresciano. Open from April to October. Phone: +41 918631753

Agriturismo "La Finca" in Cresciano,, phone: +41 918633693
Ristorante "Degli Amici", restaurant with guest rooms in Cresciano, reservation is required. Phone: +41 918631998
Da "Sandra", restaurant with guest rooms in Cresciano, Via Cantonale. Phone: + 41 918631121
TIP: Simple houses are rented out to tourists in the wider area. Google "Rustico" (that is how they call these houses) or have a look at Some Italian language knowledge might be helpful.

What's eating out like?
It's a bit limited locally, but Agriturismo "La Finca" in Cresciano offers organic foodstuffs and has a nice restaurant. The menus resemble Italian ones.

Where can I buy gear and food?
There is a small shop in Claro, and a supermarket in Bellinzona.

There is a good climbing gear shop at the guest house "1001 Bloc" see the accommodation section.

What else is there apart from the climbing?
Many rivers and a beautiful alpine scenery are tempting you to hike, ride a bike, go rafting, multipitch climbing or just hang out in a café and drink lovely espresso. Bike and boat hire as well as other leisure activities are offered in many places.

Currencies cost:
Swiss Francs (CHF); In December 2010, one Euro equalled roughly 1,30 CHF, and one Pound equalled roughly 1,55 CHF. Price levels are similar to those in the UK.

"Cresciano Boulder" by Antonello Ambrosio, Claudio Cameroni, Roberto Grizzi, Renzo Lodi & Nicola Vonarburg. Last edition from 2002.

Additional info:
You need an annual vignette (sticker for your car) to drive on Switzerland's motorways (costs about 40 CHF or 30 Euro). It is sold near the Swiss borders in services. Also be aware of rigid speed limits on Swiss roads. As much as 5 kilometers per hour too fast can cost you a small fortune.

The Guest House of 1001 Bloc in Cresciano, 145 kb
The Guest House of 1001 Bloc in Cresciano
© Sarah Burmester

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