Ticino ... When we mention this name, it “tilts” in the heads of canyon enthusiasts, since this region of southern Switzerland is quite simply one of the world's Mecca for canyoning!
For me, Mecca, even surpassing Reunion!
Everything is beautiful and disproportionate… The first images that come to mind are those of these giant slides polished in the gray granite sending you into the emerald basin 5, 10 or even 20 meters below!
I had the chance to go twice in September 2020, and I never tire of it.
This Swiss region is special because Italian is spoken there, the weather and the landscapes resemble those of the French Riviera, in short, an air of vacation and relaxation. We can only advise you on the local gastronomy to enjoy in the small typical restaurants, the "pozzi", a sort of mini troglodyte inns which serve only local and simple products.
And above all, this region is full of dozens of incredible canyons!
Let's say it right away, these are essentially downhill runs for people who are athletic and have already practiced the activity. This is not the place to experience the sport with family, or friends the day after a bachelor party, although some courses lend themselves to relatively cool outings.
So what to really expect?
Many descents are split into 2 or even 3 parts, which makes it possible to adapt the length to the level of the riders. The great classics that are Boggera, Lodrini or Iragna, three of the most beautiful canyons in the world, frankly, can be done at the cost of a long day of 6 to 8 hours in the canyon. To this, we must add the approach walk ranging from 1h30 to ... 0min! Yes, one of the local specificities is that you can take the helicopter to save time and energy! But we would lose the pleasure of warming up on magnificent trails crossing chestnut forests and stone hamlets lost in the mountains (sometimes still inhabited). The car shuttle is, in this case, a good intermediate option.
These full descents are major, but it is always possible to do only the lower part for example, then reducing the descent to more usual times of 2h to 3h of activity. Many canyons are also located in this average register of 2h to 4h of descent for 30mns to 1h of walking, which is done very well in a day by taking the time for a picnic in the sun during the descent. .
Fortunately, not all routes are monsters, and during a stay in Ticino it is advisable to mix small and long days to spare yourself, and even to take advantage of days off to visit the places, to walk or to climb. the most motivated! Because the region is rich in cliffs and boulders, especially the world famous bouldering site of Cresciano! Here granite is king, and there is something for all levels, in rinds as well as multi-pitch routes.
Technically speaking, the canyons are not very difficult if you take advantage of low water levels. The best period will therefore be from July to the end of September. It depends on the winter snowfall, because the rivers sometimes originate very high in altitude, as well as any rains.
The abseils are not very large, generally within 20-30m, nothing to do with the large verticals of 100m in Reunion. However, you will have to like jumps and slides, because in Ticino a 10m jump or a 15m "slide" is nothing exceptional! And if we can always manage by putting on the rope (not everyone can get themselves into a 25m particle accelerator either!), The descent time may explode, because here we jump, jump , we slide for hours. There is little walking between the obstacles and that’s what is so fun here! In addition, we very often arrive in beautiful large deep pools, these are not jumps where you have to aim too precisely. So be prepared for a giant, natural aqualand, as well as cool water (between 10 and 15 degrees)!
In the end, a must in the canyon to experience once in a lifetime! Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss it if you are interested ...
We leave you some pictures of our last trip in Ticino history that you can get an even more precise idea of what canyon paradise looks like.
Guide, account and photos : Rémi Riquet