Let it Bärn - short film about bouldering in urban areas

This short film is a tribute to a hidden piece of sports history - urban bouldering. This artistic work shows the scene from an unusual perspective and raises questions that go beyond sport: Who owns the public space and who is allowed to use it and how?

Today begins in the capital of Switzerland Climbing World Championship 2023 with competitions in the disciplines of sport climbing, bouldering and paraclimbing. At least since its Olympic premiere in Tokyo 2020, the sport has made it onto the big stage.

Short film Let it Bärn: Urban Climbing in the city of Bern

For the majority of the global community, however, climbing is an active lifestyle that does without overly rigid rules and rankings. For many, climbing is much more an expression of creativity, freedom, joy in movement, with a close connection to like-minded people, nature and the environment. A look into the past reveals that the city of Bern in particular was one of the international birthplaces and contact points for an underground variant of this versatile lifestyle: city bouldering.

In conservative Switzerland in the 90s, two young Bernese climbers claimed what should not be claimed: public space.

City bouldering_urban climbing at the historical museum in Bern_Switzerland
Urban climbing with a lot of air under the butt at the Historical Museum in Bern. (Picture Hannes Tell)

In conservative Switzerland in the 90s, two young Bernese climbers claimed what should not be claimed: public space. Much to the displeasure of the Bern city administration. dr Bomb and Dr. Bäri gave urban structures a new use and shared their urban climbing routes in the self-designed Bärn Boulder Guidebook.

Bouldering-in-the-middle-of-the-city-Bern-Urban-Climbing
Bouldering in the middle of the city of Bern. (Picture Hannes Tell)

The climbing guide Bärn Boulder was and is a creative-rebellious manifesto that demands the right to fun and free expression, illustrates peaceful rebellion against rigid structures, encourages imaginative testing of limits and questioning the status quo.

The Bärn Boulder climbing guide was and is a creative and rebellious manifesto that demands the right to have fun and free expression, illustrating peaceful rebellion against rigid structures

The call reached a growing scene of urban bouldering fans around the world. The limited edition and soon to be banned Bärn Boulder Guidebook became a myth that continues to inspire generations of urban climbers to this day. Even the climbing pros Adam Ondra and Hannah Meul was drawn to some of Bern's underground spots shortly before the World Cup.

Rock-climbing-in-the-city_Urban-Climbing_City-Bouldering

The short film Let it Bärn pays tribute to a part of sports history that mostly took place in secret. He documents some of the legendary Bernese bouldering spots and lets the media-shy authors of the Bärn Boulder Guidebook use their alias Dr. Bomb and Dr. Bäri have his say.

Climbing-on-the-sandstone-structures-of-the-Bern-city-walls_-Emil-Abrahamsson
Youtube and climber Emil Abrahamsson was also drawn to City Bouldering in Bern. (Picture Hannes Tell)

The protagonists Hannah Morris and show why the creative and alternative use of public space is still up for discussion 30 years later Emil Abrahamson.

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Credits: Cover picture Hannes Tell

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