Kjugekull, Sweden

Kjugekull, Sweden

This is probably the most famous crag in Sweden and people all over the place have heard of it. There was even a famous climbing film made about it back in the day – something which still tempts people to this little gem.

And that has led me to a bit of a conundrum. I visited for only a couple of days, getting just one day of climbing in, during the Great Swedish Bouldering Tour of 2016 and completely honestly, really wasn’t taken with the place at all. I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

But a few days after, when writing this page, i kept reading and hearing such good things about Kjuge. Everywhere i looked, people were raving about it. So i can’t help but think i’ve missed something big.

So here’s my limited take on the place, based on that brief trip. Bear that in mind when reading through.

First some undeniable truths: the scenery is subtly spectacular. Kjugekull is in one of Sweden’s 4,000 nature reserves and nearby Kristianstad actually has Sweden’s lowest point – 2.41m below sea level. The area is undoubtedly wonderful and beautiful, with the Kristianstads Vattenriket Biosphere Reserve being either close by or around Kjugekull (i can’t quite figure that one out). So expect wildlife in abundance!

There is some local history there too – something to do with a local farming couple – with a billboard in the area alluding to much more information. Sadly for me, my Swedish was lacking to the point i didn’t have a clue what it was on about and i can’t for the life of me find anything online about it. Check out the old buildings that are there and see what you can decipher.

In terms of the climbing area, it is increibly easily accessible. The grounds by the parking are used by others too; for example there were a group of elderly people there when we were there, seemingly having a barbeque, so expect somewhere well maintained. And it’s quite condensed too, the climbing really not being far from the car. We even went back to the car for lunch!

The landings are generally excellent too with a vast grade range, giving something for everyone there. The grades can be a bit wild though, and i’ve subsequently heard it’s renowned for being a bit soft for the grade. Some things certainly were.

And yet, there was something lacking for me. The rock is predominantly granite, but with gneiss, limestone and all sorts thrown in for good measure. It might be this that i wasn’t keen on and one of my biggest bug bears: the rock really wasn’t of very good quality, in my eyes at least. Yeah, it had the textured crystals that you expect from granite but a glassy sheen to it that made you feet and hands skid off unexpectedly. It was also sharp in equal measure and would easily take it’s toll on unsuspecting skin.

At first i thought it was heavily polished and while some lines were obviously smoothed from the constant trooping of feet up a classic line, other areas of rock where no line exists had suffered the same fate. It could well be that washed-rock effect from a retreating sea.

There are classics in Kjuge, and some truly iconic lines here, including the absurdly tall Caspersens Arete 7b and the superb splitter crack Monolith 7a+. Search around and you’ll find plenty more.

Or so i read. When we were there, it seemed like we’d kind of seen most things, tried everything we were keen on and didn’t really leave much behind that we’d want to go back for. And yet, research suggests there are a whopping 1140 problems here! A high concentration for a small area indeed but either which way, there was nothing i walked away from thinking “Man, i wish i’d got on that!”

So take from that what you will. We had a good look round and obviously missed a fair amount but not really that much. There are a few neighbouring crags that i’ve spotted in the (now, yet again, out of print) guidebook but this is certainly why you’d come here. Certainly, for a short trip or a tour such as this, it’s an ideal destination. But i left thinking that would be my last visit.

So yes, it is an excellent area with a couple of flaws, i won’t deny that. But the best in Sweden? I’m not sure i’d go that far.

The Areas

For the sake of the article, i’m going to break this down into two: the Northern Area and the Southern Area, with a sparse section in the middle that i’ll actually also mention as well. Don’t let this make you think they’re far apart – far from it! Both are near to the parking area and neither far from the other. Kjugekull’s biggest asset is the close proximity of all her parts and it is easy to move from one to another.

The old guidebook broke the whole crag down into several areas: A-1 through to J-6 with a weird grid system meaning many letter-number combinations have been missed out. I mention it as you’ll find the same breakdown on 27crags now.

  • North Area – A-1 to C-3. This is where you’ll find a lot of those classics you’ve seen pictures of, most notably the huge aretes of Caspersen’s Arete 7a+ and Alla Vill Till Himmelen 7c+. The splitter crack of Monolith 7a+ or 7b+ from sit are also stand out lines, as is the sloper treat Haleri 7a but you’ll need good friction to combat the actual polish. Other than this, there’s plenty to keep even the most keen busy and moving between problems is so easy it’s untrue.

  • South Area – G-6 to I-10. Another fiercely densely populated area with tonnes to go at. You’ll need to work a touch harder to find stuff though and the landings are often not quite as good as in the North. Matador 7a+ is worth seeking out, if you don’t mild a tiny bit highball or for the hardcore out there, i did like the look of Lithium 7c and the surrounding problems, most of which are harder link ups.

  • Middle bit -D-4 to F-7. In truth, we didn’t really see anything here and i only include it as the guide in retrospect seems to have quite a little selection of climbs. It does seem a lot more sparse than the rest of the crag though, so i would suggest planning on staying at either the North or South half and simply having a look here on the way through.

Local Amenities

This is, even by Swedish standards where only 3% of the land is developed and 69% is forests, a very quiet little corner of the country. There really is very little here and while that may make it a fantasticly pleasant place to enjoy some bouldering in peace, don’t expect much to be available! From my brief travels out of season, don’t expect to see many people either.

As such, it’s generally best to take what you need with you if you can.

  • Food. Even the quietest of places needs somewhere for the locals to buy food! The nearby towns of Bromolla or, slightly further, Kristianstad, will serve you well, along with the other smaller villages. Bromolla is slightly bigger too so will probably serve most of your normal-person needs.
  • Climbing Shops. Nothing, in short. The nearest i can imagine is probably Stockholm, Goteborg or maybe Kobenhavn. Seriously, there’s nothing in the area i could find, not even to get chalk. If this is false information, PLEASE contact me with a comment below or an e-mail to chezdelabloc@gmail.com
  • Accommodation – Campsites. Granted we didn’t use one but saw countless signs for them all over the place, so i can’t imagine anyone would struggle.
  • Accommodation – Other. We stayed in a house via the excellent website Airbnb and our host was a dream. Other than that, i’m not sure.
  • Cafes and Bars. Other than trawling the local villages (again, sparsely spread out) there is a cafe of note at Kjugekull itself, imaginably named Cafe Kjugekull. It is only open during “high season” but their WiFi is free and open and available from outside.
  • Guidebooks. There is one published in 2005 that is now, annoyingly for Sweden’s “premier climbing destination”, out of print (at time of writing). IF you can get hold of one it is an excellent birds-eye guide but if not, the website 27crags has photo topos.
  • Other Handy Places. There are a few handy websites dedicated to Kjugekull, including a page on Sverigeforanen and a dedicated Kjuge.nu page. A quick google search will reveal a bit more and the *ONLY info you’ll find with the terms Kjuge or Kjugekull is climbing related.

*Not strictly true but near as damn it.

Relevant blog posts: here (if you’re that psyched or bored)

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