Bouldering in the Val d'Ossola

Only one hour by car from the well known areas in the Ticino (Switzerland) there are numerous excellent bouldering spots, which can compete without any problems with these "old" areas in Switzerland. The potential there is enormous and the landscape is simply fascinating. If you should have Italy as a loud, overcrowded and not very restful country in your mind, you will be set right in the quiet mountain setting of the Italian main ridge of the Alps! The best example are the areas around Domodossola, which will be described a little bit in the following.

If - instead of the Gotthard motorway or the Berhardino - you take the "Große St. Bernhard" pass to get on the south side of the Alps, Domodossola is the first bigger city you will reach. Around this Italian alpine town there are lying some bouldering areas of different character in a beautiful Alpine scenery. 3 quite well developed areas are described a bit closer in the following, which are all not more than half an hour drive from each other...



Alpe Devero

Where to stay + Topo

Monte                                               (Top)

Monte is lying a bit above Domodossala in a beautiful chestnut wood, therefore the setting is quite similar to the well known areas in Ticino. The number of problems on our visit end of 2006 was about 150 problems from easy up to Fb 8a and there are numerous possibilities for first ascents. As the area is lying at an altitude of only 250 m and on a south facing slope it is perfect for cold days. The rock is gneiss and there are all styles of climbing to be found, slabs, overhangs, edges, slopers, quartz pebbles, traverses, low- and highballs and everything in between. Despite it is not far from the town, the area is quiet and a bit away from the main sector you will for sure find some blocks where you will be alone.

In the light chestnut wood of the area from wall climbing....

.... to big roofs everything is to be found!


Foppiano                                           (Top)

Foppiano is situated at an elevation of 1300 m above sea level in a beautiful mountain conifer wood at the end of the open part of a small pass-road at the Alpe Foppiano. The rock is granite/gneiss and offers excellent, interesting problems in almost all grades as this is possible only in this kind of rock or in sandstone. The development is in process and only a small part of the area offered already far more than 100 problems from very easy up to Fb 8a when we have been there a good year ago - enough material for some days of intense bouldering. And if you should like brushing and explore new problems you will definitely be right here. To fasten the development of the area regional bouldering events have been taken place which have been visited very well.

A special goody are the picknick benches on the open meadow at the edge of the forest next to the boulders. It is really hard to imagine a more relaxed bouldering in a more beautiful setting. And for the overnight stay a camping can be found just a bit below the area.

And not to forget, the Alpe Foppiano is also an excellent starting point for hiking in the surrounding mountains...

Best rock quality, blueberry bushes, conifer wood... a place to feel well...

At the edge of the beautiful high mountain forest picknick benches invite you for the relaxed part of the day.


Alpe Devero                                      (Top)

If it should be still too cold in Foppiano or still too much snow there, you should think about a visit at the Alpe Devero. Though the Alpine pasture is lying much higher at an elevation of 1900 m the southern orientation and the almost free standing boulders let the temperatures rise quite fast. There is a camping in the village and in the area itself can be found a refuge of the Italian Alpine Club (C.A.I.).

In general the boulders are lying on a flat meadow and have a wonderful brown patina. The rock is a kind of gneiss or serpentinite, the surface is quite smooth and the climbing is varied and interesting. Also here far more than 100 done problems can be found and as well as in Foppiano well visited bouldering events have been taken place. Most problems are in the lower and middle grades, but also the one or two top problems are waiting for a first ascent.


Most boulders are lying on a flat meadow ground in light larch wood and have a wonderful brown patina.

Where to stay + Topo                                  (Top)

There are campings in Foppiano and at the Alpe Devero. Directly in the area at the Alpe Devero there is a refuge of the C.A.I.. (Italian Alpine Club). Lodging is to be found as well almost everywhere. In and around Domodossola you will find numerous hotels and other possibilities for overnight staying.

More information and more photos to the here described areas can be found on the Italy-boulder-webpage at the region "Piemonte".

The areas introduced in this article are described in the bouldertopo "iBloc" for Northern Italy which includes altogether 32 of the best bouldering spots in Northern Italy:

Bouldertopo "iBloc" - Italia [N]

Authors Ulrich & Harald Röker

GEBRO Verlag, April 2007