John Sherman

John Sherman

John Sherman is the Godfather of American bouldering. Without his broad shoulders to stand on, Daniel Woods would be toproping 5.7 right now.

Stone Master

John Sherman: Magic Wood Exposed

Magic Wood is a landslide of big boulders in a deep valley.  It’s picture book Swiss alpine landscape dotted with tiny villages, cows wearing bells, and long waterfalls tumbling down the walls.  Here’s the nearby village.

Dense forest hides the boulders, so the first indication that you’ve arrived is this sign.


Yes this is the ideal place for a grown man to take a young child into the boulderfield and show them the wonder of Magic Wood.

One of the first things I saw was this killer lowball compression rig. 


I bet that sign to the right tells all about it.


Oh, it’s just something about man’s relationship with nature.  My German’s a bit rusty, but I assume it says what a royal pain in the ass nature can be to man and that man has every right to put nature in its place.


Sure enough, Mother nature has laced the trail with slippery exposed tree roots and filled the gaps between with mud.

But it’s well marked with fluorescent spray paint

The ’08 Yearbook gives Magic Wood three stars out of five for it’s landings.


This one is pretty typical.  I’d only give it two stars myself (one star being falling into the maw of a running snow blower), but that was before I saw the conveniently fixed pad in the bottom of the pit. 


Not only does it absorb falls, it absorbs water too.
The following pad is much better stashed.



It’s just feet from the trail and easily visible so you don’t have to hunt for it.  The plastic wrap really helps cut down on the sponge effect.

Not all the landings are three-star gems, but with a little help...


Sometimes finding the problems can be tricky. 


This is a real sloppy job of painting the problem number - I can barely make it out under all the chalk.


It’s so much easier when they just write the problem name in 3-inch sans serif script.


Red arrows denote highballs.  I might not have known otherwise.


That problem was seriously cool - good holds, good line, good schist.  Not to mention one of nearly a dozen problems at Magic Wood to have a flat landing. 

One of the highlights of my trip there was my first V14, Never Ending Story. I’d never spotted anything that hard before. 

Never Ending Story is just a few yards away from this beautiful stream.


So are these pretty pink flower petals.


Oh those aren’t petals, just someone’s tape wads they decided to share.



Out of curiosity I waited nearly a week to see if anyone would pick them up.  Finally I packed them out, but now I feel kind of guilty because nobody else will get to look at them.

P-Rob had previously broken his ankle on Never Ending Story so he was counting on me.  Here he is proudly skipping a blatantly chipped hold to grab another one. 


He sent the whole deal a few tries later.  I can vouch for that.  Still in doubt?  Ha!  He caught it on video - take that bitches!

My proudest memory of Magic Wood would have to be my 265-tick session.  Damn straight you heard it right - 265 ticks in one day.  Actually in about one hour.  Wore half the bristles off my brush.  With enough training and a brush sponsor I think I could go to 300, maybe 400 next time.

Thanks for joining me on this trip through one of Europe’s iconic klettergardens.  It doesn’t take long to see why Magic Wood is one of’s Top Ten Favorite Bouldering Areas in the world.  When young children are led into the woods and left to their own devices, magic happens.


You must be logged in to post comments. Please login or create an account.