Saturday, 4 September 2010

Allez a la Fontainebleau

Less than six weeks after getting back from Italy (and Fontainebleau en route) and I was off again to my second home. Mid August may not be the recommended time to visit the bouldering Mecca in the north of France (and for good reason!) but you play the cards you're dealt and i decided to go anyway. Besides, it's not that far...

Llanberis to Llanrug, to Northwich (both to collect people) to Birmingham (where we changed cars for a bigger one) and on to Dover for our middle-of-the-night ferry reminded me that while i still maintain it is worth driving to France's magnificent bouldering site, it should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, we persevered and arrived to find nothing but glorious... rain.

For two days it absolutely lashed it down, and then finally the sun came out to leave us in 30+ degree heat - neither of which conducive to a weeks hard climbing! As such, typical late starts and relaxed afternoons saw us climbing at about 4pm every day. While mid-summer isn't ideal for a Font trip, those who are keen enough could easily get two sessions in (one early morning, one evening) but i have never managed to raise myself from my slumber in time to catch the morning cool.

While this was my sixth trip to the French capital, the forest continues to surprise me, and after a session on Carnage 7b+ (albeit only the first move) and a wander round the familiar but still amazing Bas Curvier, we found ourselves in the Trois Pignons area. While we didn't stay at the familiar and excellent La Mussadiere campsite (instead opting for cheaper acomodation near Grez-sur-Long) we found ourselves mainly climbing at 95.2 (where i have spent quite some time) and Bois Rond (where i have not). Both of these crags are highly recommended but in very different conditions; the former being high and exposed is a lot quicker drying and thus hotter than Bois Rond, which hides nicely in the forest.

As a climbing trip, the week didn't produce much success, the hardest climb being a mere font 6a (for me, very disapointing) but as a relax from the day-to-day life in North Wales, Fontainebleau will continue to be ideal. The week came in at less than 200€ each, for nine days abroad, including food, site fees, fuel, tolls and ferry, making it fantastic value and while the conditions are far from perfect mid-summer, Fontainebleau remains so convenient that I didn't mind too much. I shall hopefully return during the winter and finish the projects started but as is always the case, the forest is bound to give me yet more new areas to explore.

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