The Basler Jura is a beautiful area of limestone crags located at the Eastern end of the Swiss Jura mountains, close to the Rhine, the city of Basel, and the borders of France and Germany. Some of the crags are in fact in France. There are around 50 crags in the area, a few of them world class. Routes vary in difficulty from the very easiest to the very hardest and are usually well bolted, albeit sparsely but rarely dangerously, on some of the older climbs. Route grades have a reputation for being tough, due to the compact nature of the rock that makes many climbs technical and difficult to read.
It is possible to climb all year round, although December, January and February are very weather dependent, and in the middle of summer it can be too hot on all but the shadiest of crags.
Swiss transport is excellent, so it is possible to get to many of the crags without a car, but the dispersed nature of the crags makes one very useful.
Accomodation can be found throughout the region, and camping is available at Bendorf in France, and Reinach in Switzerland.
The most popular crags are Gempen, Falkenfluh, Schauenburgfluh, Tüfleten and Pelzli, but even these are rarely overcrowded, and you will often have the crags to yourself, especially mid week. Most of the other crags are also excellent.
When it rains, there are excellent climbing walls at Impulsiv in Weil am Rhein (Germany), K7 in Basel and for bouldering B2 in Pratteln. B2 is one of the best bouldering walls in Europe.
In this area:
Chalengraben is a beautiful gorge tucked away in the hillside above Hofstetten. It has a few short and difficult routes that can be really pleasant in the spring, summer and autumn. Due to the narrowness of the gorge, and hence lack of sun it is slow to dry after rain. The climbs have a convenient picnic table under them, and a walk up the gorge to the Bergmatten restaurant is worthwhile in its own right.
Set in a beautiful area, just above the Chastelbach, the cliff has a number of buttresses with some excellent routes. In the afternoons Chastelfluh is a good hot weather crag, there is lots of shade. Note that the slabby routes in particular often get overgrown in the summer.
A steep featureless crag of compact limestone in a pleasant location above the Laufen-Delemont valley. The forest provides some shade in summer, and lets the sun through in winter. Climbing is slightly overhanging, mostly on pockets. There are many open projects.
Seldom busy, Chuenisberg is a peaceful place, set in a beautiful wood of beech trees. Often the only sound to hear is the cursing of climbers who have not quite managed to redpoint their latest project. North facing, it is an ideal crag for hot summer days, the downside being that it can be slow to dry after the winter and after prolonged rain. Although the majority of the routes are hard - and it has of some of the hardest routes in the Basler Jura - Chuenisberg nevertheless has a few excellent middle grade routes.
Falkenfluh is a large important cliff containing hundreds of excellent routes, nearly all single pitch up to 30m in height. The climbs are predominately steep walls, and the routes are in all grades, with something to suit everyone, except perhaps the complete beginner. Most of the routes are well bolted, although the bolts are sometimes a little spaced, but rarely dangerously. The crag is located in a forest offering welcome shade in the summer, which can mean some sections are slow drying after prolonged rain. The area is very beautiful, and is popular, but rarely crowded.
Gempen, or Schartenfluh as it is more formally known, is a popular crag in a beautiful location, with great views over the surrounding countryside. It is possible to see the Alps on a clear day, and the sunset is well worth waiting for. There are 4 main sectors, all with their own character. The rock is mostly solid, and getting polished on the popular routes. It dries very quickly, and Sandührliwand in particular catches all the sun that is going, so can be busy on a nice Sunday afternoon in autumn, winter and spring.
|Get Wet Canyon||
On hot summer days after a long dry period, Get Wet Canyon is an ideal place to escape the heat. A deep chasm cut into the side of the hill, the temperature can be 20 degrees lower at the foot of the canyon than at neighbouring Tannenfluh. However it stays wet for a long time, and the routes can be dirty until they have had a bit of traffic. When it is in condition, many of the routes are excellent.
|Grotte des Nains||
Situated deep in the forest, this small gorge with its quaint little cave has a handful of steep and difficult climbs up to 30m in length. It provides welcome shade on hot summer days, although is slow to dry after prolonged rain. The crag is not perfectly solid, so take care not to kill any tourists wandering through the gorge.
Hofstettenchöpfli is the escarpment of limestone crags that lies between Flüh and Hofstetten. The escarpment is interesting for it's abundance of rare Downy oak trees that usually only grow in a Mediterranean climate. On the Chöpfli they survive only at a very limited altitude, and the tree line can clearly be seen in autumn from nearby Landskron castle. The left end of the ridge is approached from Flüh and Elsässerwand is a pleasant crag with lots of wall climbing in the 6a to 6c range.
Ingelstein must rank as one of the most attractive looking, and least visited crags in the Basler Jura. As you drive up the hairpins towards Gempen, it is usually in bright sunshine and looks fantastic. Some of the routes are. Closer inspection however reveals a lot of vegetation, some loose rock, a lot of traditional rather than bolted routes, noise from the road, and a cauldron when the sun shines outside the winter months. The left hand side of the crag has a few bolted routes, and the 2nd pitches are worth doing.
Along with Gempen, Falkenfluh, Schauenburgfluh and Tüfleten; Pelzli is one of the major crags in the Basler Jura. With many distinct buttresses set in the middle of a beautiful wood, it is a delight to climb here. The rock is generally solid, and the bolting usually good. The downside is that many of the routes are becoming polished. Pelzli consists of two distinct parts. The lower section, which has the impressive Daumenfels, a 30m free standing pinnacle, where the easiest route to the top is a 4th category scramble, but also with many longer, harder climbs.
An excellent crag with about 50 routes, mostly in the 7a to 7c range. Stays dry in the rain. Well equipped, occasionally fragile rock, helmets recommended at the foot of the crag. Note that the accuracy of the topo and the grades have not been checked
A series of detached pinnacles with good quality rock and some fine routes above Roschenz.
|Schauenburgfluh||Schauenburgfluh is an important crag near to Basel, and one of the largest in the Basler Jura. With 40m high walls and nearly 100 routes, it has lots of long wall climbs to offer, mostly in the middle grades. Some of the routes have two pitches, although most can be done in a single run out with an 80m rope. The routes are generally solid, but especially at the top, there is still some loose rock around, and helmets are advised.|
|Tannenfluh main crag||
Tannenfluh consists of two distinct parts. A crag on the hillside and a crag dug into the hillside. The first has a few separate buttresses with some nice mid grade routes. The second, called Get Wet Canyon, is an interesting place to visit, can take a long time to dry, but can be cool even in the hottest of summers. Some of the routes in the canyon are very good, a few though are quite dirty.
The main Tannenfluh crag is a pleasant series of buttresses with some nice mid grade routes.
Tüfleten is a relatively large, varied crag with routes to suit most tastes. The climbing is on typical Basler Jura limestone; slabs and steep walls that are smooth and peppered with pockets and edges. The routes are often hard to read on sight. The crag has a sunny disposition, this can be good in the winter but often too hot in summer. The route Shogun is probably the hardest in the Basler Jura. It took the first ascensionist Eric Talmadge13 years until he redpointed it in the year 2000.
Tüfleten is an excellent crag with something to suit most tastes. The right hand side has lots of test pieces from 7a to 9a.