climbing · Guest Post

Climbing above Geneva (Guest Post)


A year and a half ago (or more), Wendy Rogers, Stacy Carter, Bjørn Hofmann, and I applied to the Brocher Foundation in Geneva for a one month residency to work on conceptual and normative issues in overdiagnosis. Between application and acceptance and arriving in Geneva, I had become addicted to climbing.

Lots of time on google got me the info that the closest climbing gyms are an hour or more on public transit away from the Brocher Foundation site. I moaned a great deal about this, but my friends had no sympathy. A month in a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, and I’m worried about finding a climbing gym?

I got excellent news just before setting out for the residency—Bjørn is an avid climber (an alpinist, even). Once at the Brocher, we found Jennifer Carr, a PhD student from Glasgow who already has a month at the Brocher under her belt. She has been climbing indoors for 6 months and was intrigued by the opportunity to climb outdoors for the first time.


Bright and early on our first Saturday morning, we set out for the cliffs overlooking Geneva — La Salève. After a long approach through the woods starting from the base of the cable car, we found ourselves almost the first climbers out. We had some pleasant conversation and advice from the climbers ahead of us, some scratching of their crag dogs behind the ears, and a scary moment watching one of them take an odd kind of fall when he wasn’t expecting it. He went on his way and we settled in for our turn at La Corne du Coin.

This massive rock formation peels off the side of the main cliff of le Coin. It has a good assortment of short climbs (by Salève standards—20m), easy enough to let us get accustomed to the limestone, which is new for Bjørn and for me. Jen did fabulous on her first outdoor climb, I enjoyed my first limestone finger pockets and fossil-crimping, and Bjørn was a most excellent and patient coach for beginning climbers.

And the limestone really is this amazing mixture of blue and gold.


One thought on “Climbing above Geneva (Guest Post)

  1. I love reading about climbing adventures. So exciting, beautiful, outdoors, technical. All things I love. But also heights and falling. Things I don’t love. Terrifying. Please keep writing for us so I can live vicariously!

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