VIDEO: BD athlete Chris Schulte bouldering in Magic Wood, Switzerland
Black Diamond athlete Chris Schulte put together this quick report and video of him sending some classic granite blocs (and nabbing a nice FA, as well) in Switzerland's famed Magic Wood.
A two-month stretch in Font comes to a close pretty quick, despite how full it sounds, and we decided to extend our tickets another month to take a vacation from our vacation... It had been 10 years since I last saw Switzerland and much had changed. Formerly secret, locals-only areas had grown into internationally known sites running over with testpieces at the limits of possibility, and the options for climbing (and “climbing tourism”- pilgrimages of a sort, to famous and amazing lines) had blossomed full. Though spring was rising, along with temperatures, we headed for the mountains to have a look at what the tiny, ancient Confederation had to offer.
About seven hours driving (less time than it takes to cross my home state of Colorado) took us across a rolling sea of agriculture: the gorgeous bounty of central France, golden and blooming in the spring sunrise. We crossed the Alsace region and from the passenger window I saw my family’s ancestral homeland zip by, pine and vine and tilled field, a castle here and there. I wondered why on earth my forefathers packed up shop and headed for Texas... Honestly they could have just gone a couple hours west into the french interior, it looks about the same as where I grew up, just not quite so hot... We squeezed through the border city of Basel, and into a painting of a different sort: pastoral, but fenced in by proud, huge mountains; though lower in elevation they typically dwarf Colorado’s in terms of vertical relief and precipitous majesty. The rock tends to be WAY better, too! After two months in the foggy flat forest south of Paris, this made for some serious soul food.
Our first stop was in Magic Wood, in the Graubunden canton. A shady mountainside covered with boulders, split by icy streams coming down from high valleys still covered in snow—folks were still skiing just a few kilometers up the hill. The ice here had only recently packed up for the season, and it was very damp; many boulders were still seeping. It was a pleasant and energizing change of scenery, though, and good enough for acclimatization to the big, powerful moves on excellent stone. No standing around on footholds here! Even the warm-ups felt hard!
After a few days, we headed south, into the Ticino canton, home of Cresciano, Chironico, Brione, and into a spring scene like I’ve never seen: a palpable scent of flowers hit me in the face like a pillow fight, and I realized that after so long living in a dry, piney state at a considerable altitude, I’d really missed things like that. It was the highlight of the trip to drive through blooming hillsides with the window down, drinking in the flowers.
It was warm, too warm for the hardest lines (though I managed to make the first ascent of a great new big-moves-over-a-pit-of-doom finish to Electroboogie); but I saw so much to come back for. We climbed incredible stone, some of the best granite on the planet, for a month. We ate pizza in a castle courtyard on the Italian border overlooking a lake ringed by mansions worthy of James Bond movies. We got drunk with the locals on lager and a “stirring” combination of sweet herbal liquors, sat in grassy fields and listen to cowbells mingle with Easter bells, ringing from the belfries of edifices older that our U.S.A. We ate goat cheese made just up the road. We fumbled through French, Italian, and German daily.
We promised ourselves we’d get back as soon as possible.