Updated Steve Crowe 30th April 2021
In early 2005 I was invited by Andy Earl on a trip to go bouldering on the superb granite blocs of Cresciano and Crironico in the Ticino area in Switzerland. I’d gone along with a serious knee injury and although my main role was as a photographer I couldn’t resist packing my climbing shoes.
Everyone climbed as a team, they took on a lot of serious highball problems that required a lot of mats and attentive spotters. Generally the rule was once one person got up the problem then everyone moved on. Most of the climbs attempted received successful ascents but not necessarily by the person in my photos. There was some terrific banter and looking back it was a privilege to be part of amazing trip to be a part of.
The strong British team of Andy Earl, Gaz Parry, Ian Vickers, Percy Bishton and the young Jamie Cassidy (Taz) was given an international flavour when we were joined for the week by Wouter Jongeneelen and Dennis Teijsse two of the strongest climbers from the Netherlands at that time, (oh and myself and my cameras).
Flicking through Gaz’s guidebook was impressive with whole sections already ticked. On previous trips Gaz was more interested in mileage but this time he sought to fill the gaps and he managed this with great efficiency. The highlight of the trip for Gaz was probably success on the very powerful Extreme Ironing. For the rest of the team however it was his effeminate victory scream as Gaz topped out on another eight, La Pelle.
Considering that Andy Earl’s trip was marred by a bad cold he still managed to pull off some astoundingly quick ascents of many of the hardest problems in the area mixed with a few spicy highballs that had his spotters unsure whether to spot Andy or protect themselves as he plummeted ground wards prior to his eventual success on Stinky Pete’s a mere Font 7B!
Andy, Gaz and Wouter all managed to make short work of the standing start to the infamous Dreamtime (8A+) for Wouter success came on his last attempt of his last problem for the week.
Ian spent this trip taping his tattered tips and quietly clearing up many outstanding problems that had eluded him on previous visits. Butch spent a long time looking for the right problem to get his 8A tick in for the trip, steeper the better. After an awesome flash of Soucoupe LH (7C+) he found just the thing on the last day at Crironico, a powerful sequence across a huge horizontal roof overlooking the valley.
While Percy was pleased to tick an 8A, the popular le Pillar at Crironico.
The grades in the Cresciano Area have a reputation for being soft but that’s not how I found it, variable certainly. Some of the warmups in the sixes appeared to be just as challenging as the many more famous grade eight problems that succumbed to the team like La Boule, Franks Wild Years, Kirk Windtain and The Jungle.