Giuliano Cameroni touched by the light in his Swiss backyard
© Stefan Kuerzi/Red Bull Content Pool
Bouldering

Meet Giuliano Cameroni, the climber who sees boulders as works of art

The Swiss climber used to go to the gym to progress, now he relies on his connection to nature.
Written by Matt Majendie
4 min readPublished on
Giuliano Cameroni sees rocks differently to most people. To him, a boulder of granite is a playground, a puzzle. It's a work of art.
The Swiss climber used to follow the ways of most other climbers by working heavily in the gym to build up the muscle to tackle the toughest boulders both at home and abroad. However, an encounter with another climber, Charles Albert, a couple of years ago transformed his outlook on how he approaches every climb.

Go climbing, not to the gym

"I knew this connection with the rock was very important, but everyone goes to the gym and trains, so I thought I had to do it also," he recalled. "I started doing it when I was young and the results were never great. I'd never make that big step forward.
"He was like, 'Dude, training is s***. Just go on the rock and just try really hard'. I lived with him for two months and I tried it because I was curious. I was like, 'this way of climbing works'. I just needed to push and have that motivation and confidence that I could become the best version of myself by mostly climbing rocks."
Cameroni hasn't gone as far as Albert, who climbs barefoot, but his new-found philosophy has seen a rapid progression in his career. He likes to meditate to help prepare body and mind and, even when not climbing, he enjoys being at one with nature in the search for his next potential conquest.
"I really love the energy of the forest," he said. "It gives me tremendous energy being outside. The world is so perfect, nature is perfect. I really see the beauty of it and the chance to be able to be there. I spend as much time there as possible."
It gives me tremendous energy being outside
Giuliano Cameroni
Giuliano Cameroni prepares for bouldering at Val Bavona, Switzerland on October 16 2020.
Quiet mind and dry fingers: Cameroni pauses before climbing in Switzerland

Is climbing art or sport?

Very much a technical rather than a power climber, there's still the occasional gym work required for certain climbs, but Cameroni's philosophy is all about understanding the rock in front of him and relying on his finger power.
"Out there in nature, I'm trying to figure out the rock and what it offers – the close connection to the rock," he said. "Others only go to the gym and train, and have much more power than me, but still can't do the rocks as they don't feel that connection.
"The power coming out of that connection to the rock and only standing with nature is the power that I need to climb. I have the power I need, no big biceps as they're useless. The rock is like skating, it's an art. I see rocks differently to others.
Giuliano Cameroni climbs a boulder at Sonlerto, Val Bavona, Switzerland on October 16, 2020.
Cameroni is at one with the boulders he climbs
The power coming out of that connection to the rock is the power that I need to climb
Giuliano Cameroni
"Every rock, you find the line up the rock, but the challenge is to do the hardest, the blankest part of the rock that has the least holds. So, the rock is all about hands and feet, your contact point to the rock. When you rely on your fingers and you know exactly how to position yourself and move on the rock, you can understand the rock.
"As soon as I see the rock, I know what way I'm going to climb it and how I'm going to do. It's like a basketball player that can put it in all the time, they're so used to the movement. For me, it's the same with the rock."
The Swiss climber seen during the Red Bull Five Blocks at the Silvapark, in Galtr, Austria on August 8, 2015.
Giuliano Cameroni harnessing his power on the rocks of Galtr, Austria
The boulders around Cameroni in Ticino, Switzerland, are, he argues, the best in the world despite currently being in the Himalayas working on another project.

Born to boulder

And his approach to them is clearly paying off, as played out in the latest episode of Reel Rock – Born Among Boulders telling his story from being a baby wrapped up at the base of a climb as his parents tackled ascent.
He likes to say he was placed on rocks before he could even crawl and then, tackling his first 8a at the age of 10.
But there's one boulder – known as Off the Wagon – which has bedevilled him for six years. Try as he might – and he estimates he had done well over 100 times – he simply couldn’t make it up it.
While idols of his such as Dave Graham and Chris Sharma had also failed, Cameroni was determined to never give up. And – spoiler alert – he finally cracked it when the cameras were rolling.
"I wasn't planning to do this for the movie," he admitted. "I thought with the movie I'd maybe do other stuff, as I’d been trying that climb for six years. So, that was like the cherry on the cake. It's really cool.
"For me, it’s the best boulder in the world. It's the most perfect. It really seems like someone came down and made it. It's excellent nature at work, because the wall is 45 degrees and immaculate in a field. It's like a painting by Picasso."