Stockholm, Sweden is big on the international map for indoor bouldering. The city’s Klättercentret gyms are the scene for the popular Erik Karlsson Bouldering series on YouTube, and the gym hosts the La Sportiva Legends Only, a competition for only the best of the best.
Step outside the gym, and you’ll discover a virtual unknown world—for visitors at least—of Swedish bouldering on real rock. Two of the best know and developed areas are Jumkil and Foksta, with problems of all grades up to 8B/V13, but there are numerous other areas if you’ve willing to look for them. In September, Morgan Preece, Eliot Stephens, Lewis Gadd, and I visited Stockholm’s outdoor bounty, attracted to explore bouldering well off the beaten track unlike other places we often travel to in Europe like Magic Wood or Fontainebleau. As we found, Swedish bouldering is as much about exploring as it is about climbing.
Eliot Stephens clings to Handledaren (8B/V13) at Foksta. When we visited we didn’t see much sign that many professional climbers had explored the rock around Stockholm, though many visit every year for The LaSportiva Legends Only Competition. The one person who had ventured out here was Alex Megos in 2016. “There is some world-class rock,” he said, as he, of course, repeated many of the area’s hardest problems.
Morgan Preece and Eliot Stephens trek to the Watchtower Boulder, Foksta. We were staying in the town of Uppsala only about an hour north of the capital city, but in such a scarcely populated country it was more than far enough away to be in the quiet countryside.
Preece cranks The Watchtower ( 8B/V13). Just 150 feet from the road. This block glowed in the evening light, making it the most beautiful boulder I have ever seen anywhere in the world. The area of Sweden is quite flat with most of the land being is either farmland or forest. We saw a few local climbers on the weekends, and they were quite surprised to learn we had travelled to climb here. This large prominent boulder has a number of problems, but we were there for the area classic and namesake problem.
We got very lucky with the weather, as most days the sun was shining. The weather only turned foul our last day, but with nearly every problem on our list ticked off, the one wet day was just fine for us.
Stephens takes his turn on The Watchtower. Some days we lay in the sun around beautiful boulder problems and others we shivered in the forests with all our layers on. Almost everyday we were out until the sun had gone down, and once or twice we continued into the night climbing under the light of our torches.
We stayed just a short way north of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city. So we knew that when we were ready for a rest day we had to head there for an explore. The city is full of history, beautiful streets and delicious food.
Stephens knocks off Mayflower (8A+/V12) at Gavle. We took a little day trip an hour or two north of Uppsala to find this boulder. Eliot and Morgan thought the rock was of similar quality to that of Brione in Switzerland, which for those who’ve never been is home to some of the finest stone in the world.
Stephens and Ampere (8A/V11) at Jumkil. We went and found all of the best boulders we could from the information we had found online. Some boulders took a long walk to find and others were all of two steps from the the road. The searching and exploring was a big part of the fun here though.
Stephens comes to bear with Alliansen (8A/V11). The bouldering was split into two main sectors, Foksta and Jumkil along with a few smaller outlying areas dotted around. This problem is in the largest area, Foksta. Many of the boulders were deep in the thick forests. While searching for this boulder there was a point where I pointed one way and Eliot pointed the exact opposite, and we both said “I think it’s this way.”
Lewis Gadd and a well brushe hold on Billybob (7B/V8), at Foksta. As amazing as the big bouldering areas of the world are, there was something spacial about being the only ones around. Much of the rock hadn’t been touched in days or weeks.