Fontainebleau Dispatch

By Nick

Fontainebleau dispatch, exploring France's legendary bouldering destination.

We arrived at the gîte at three in the morning. The door was unlocked but Ken thought it best that we spent at least one night dirtbag style. Driving on for another 30 minutes we finally stopped in a random field near Le Poty. You just know that when you pitch up anywhere in the fog it will look like the totally worst place to crash out in the morning. True to form we woke up in open countryside near a busy commuter rat run. With just three hours sleep we headed back to the gîte and gorged ourselves on coffee and croissants.

The team had already had a pretty good week. Rain had forced a rest day on Wednesday but they were keen to get out again. The damp mornings meant the rock didn’t dry out to midday, so we didn’t need to feel guilty staying up playing pool late into the night. With Font veterans Degsy and Dan we were sure of the best choices of venue.

95.2 is one such venue, perched on top of a small hill in the Trois Pignon forest it catches what sun there is and dries quickly with a hint of a breeze. Ken and I spent the day capturing them on film, which was harder than I thought it would be. With so many poeple climbing you always felt you were missing out, so you’d be taking a picture of someone and then out of the corner of your eye, you’d see someone nail a sequence of moves and get the flash.

Ken and I were trying not to impose ourselves on the group, we didn’t feel right asking them to get out of the way just to get a shot. Not that it is possible to hold back a group of young boulderers when their mate is trying to flash 7a. The other side of the group were the parents of some of the climbers, they turned out to be equally competitive and supportive when climbing, many of them were shocked how hard a 4a can be. Best to ignore the grade, just enjoy the climbing.

The evening saw Gracie the youngest member of team organise a core session. It soon turned out to be a who can beat Gracie at arm wrestling contest, she’s not known as Crusher for nothing. Food was by organised by Dan who is a pretty handy chef, everyone only had good things to say about the hospitality. The gîte was amazing, perfect for a large group, big enough to be able to find a quite spot but social enough for everyone to enjoy each others company.

Friday was our last chance to capture what the team had been up to, so we headed up to Rocher Canon where everyone gave Levitation (Font 7a), a bash. These are 6b/6c gymnastic moves using heel hooks, smears, finger locks and the typical font slopers. It was brilliant to see the whole team give their all. Both Gracie and Billy suffered slightly from a lack of length to be able to make the full body extensions to gain a vital toe lock. Edd Mowbray was the first to get the sequence, which FOCUSED a few of the others to really give it some. With a group this size there’s no let up. We headed over to Bas Cuvier for lunch and no sooner had the baguettes been devoured the group quickly repeated many of the problems from earlier in the week.

The team headed home on Saturday morning so we were looking forward to hitting the circuits. Unfortunately we woke up to an inch of slushy snow.. not the best start. At the very worst we thought we could get some really good pictures, but the snow was very localised and melting quickly. A change of venue back to 95.2 indicated that climbing was pretty much off for the next few hours, so we headed to our now favourite pizzeria in Melun. After a quick power nap we headed back to the boulders just as everyone else was coming off. We have been inspired by some of the photos in Keith Sharples’ calendarso we felt blessed to finally have a clear sky and a quarter moon. As the amateur snappers of the Alpkit team we are pretty happy with our efforts.

Sunday was our final day so we couldn’t mess around. We had a quick look at Hale Bopp in the Franchard area having misread its grade in the guide book grade as 7a. What it meant was 7a going on 8a. Ken had the best attempt but still several inches short. Finally we headed to the Gorge au Chat to get some proper bouldering in. Well there were no cats and no chestnuts just amazing climbing. I wished I’d had more time… Easter anyone?

Top things to do:
- Eat Pizza at - Cynthiana, 2 Rue Au Lin, Melun.
- The Mountain Route at Franchard Cuisinière.

Top things not to do:
- Trust Kenny with any navigating.
- Forget your waterproof.

Bouldering Mats

Small bouldering pad for sit starts and up-close impacts, 80 x 50 x 6cm
Taco bouldering mat for your local circuit, 100 x 100 x 8cm
£119.99 £149.99
Large taco bouldering pad for frequent boulderers, 134 x 100 x 11cm
Hinge style pad ideal for frequent boulderers, 100 x 132 x 11cm
£199.99 £249.99
Cordura® chalk bag with waist strap for sport, trad or bouldering
£16.99 £27.99
A 100% natural balm for repairing tired and damaged skin
£6.39 £9.99
Moisturising skin creme to keep active skin hydrated
£7.99 £9.99
UK made hardcore 9 litre stash bag with daisy chain loops
£35.99 £59.99

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