The Great Swedish Tour of 2016

Over 1,000 miles. More than 24 hours of driving. Solo. Six countries in one day. It was a bit of an epic but at 3am on Tuesday morning, i eventually drifted down a major road in Kobenhavn (Copenhagen) to Simon’s building, to find him in his third floor flat.

It had dawned on me several times that day to ask “whose stupid idea was this after all?!” knowing full well the answer lies with he who questioned. But the worst was now over, the hardest part done and we were all set – after a meagre 5 hours sleep – to head off to explore the best bouldering Sweden had to offer.

The plan had originally been for seven of us to meet on the Finnish island of Aland but as is often the case with these sorts of trips, it had dwindled to nothingness. The backup plan has become The Great Swedish Tour of 2016, incorporating some of my best friends, some (hopefully) phenomenal venues and some quality climbing that i’m sure Sweden can provide in spades; largely because i’ve seen before that it can.

First on the list lay Kjugekull: a crag first brought to my attention by the 8a.nu 2008 annual, where it the back lay this little Swedish gem, ranking in the top ten most popular bouldering destinations that year. It wasn’t far from Simon’s house either, especially considering how far we’d already travelled at this point!

Tuesday afternoon we arrived at our accommodation: an AirBnB in Tosteberga. It’s an interesting concept that i’ve heard of a little (from Emily, among others) where you are invited to live in a strangers house for a reduced fee. Our host was fantastic, the house amazing and a wonderful opportunity to experience a more authentic way of local life. I’d thoroughly recommend it.

Sadly the weather was not as welcoming that first day, leaving us to potter the tiny village, see it’s lovely harbour and while away the remaining hours of daylight (there are lots of them here this time of year). It actually set the scene very well and we made the most of the poor conditions to scout out the local crag.

I must be honest and say i was expecting more. While a fantastic venue with plenty to do – enough to fill it’s own guidebook – it is more a crag than a venue proper and wouldn’t really warrant regard as a true international destination – not enough to keep said guidebook in print – leaving me to ponder it’s inclusion on that list all those years ago. Through the drizzle, i wondered how much we could get done in the short time we would stay.

The next day provided our answer, as we awoke to glorious sunshine and near perfect conditions. Once at the crag, we noticed two problems that a trip later (or earlier) in the year would’ve probably solved: slight amounts of heat and an excessive number of bugs. While writing this the following day, i am itching all across the elastic of my underwear at the back from mosquito bites and occasionally swatting a fly away from my face. But it did keep Tess occupied yesterday, perfecting her fly catching technique!

Sadly, i found the climbing also lacking slightly. The rock type, while granite, lacked the grip and quality i’ve become used to associating with it, having a slightly glassy feel that almost felt like excessive polish. We wondered if it was just that but inspected some rock not on a boulder problem and found the same thing. While the movement was good and some lines excellent, this is to date the only granite crag i have visited where you can’t really trust your feet that well.

That being said, the venue is outstanding! A large number of granite blocs in a Swedish forest with excelllent landings and fantastic scenery. Much like with Frankenjura, i’d say i’d recommend a visit to the area but mainly for the scenery and experience than for the climbing and it would probably only be worth stopping to climb if you were travelling past.

That is exactly what we’re doing and despite the continued dry ground, today we head off for Vastervik further to the North East. A day might not sound like much to spend at Kjugekull but if i’m honest, we dropped the grade substantially, climbed at most areas and didn’t really leave that much that would tempt me back. All told, a great little place and one i’m glad to have seen but not one to come back to. Most importantly, a great start to the Great Tour.

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