Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Five Tips for a Climbing in Fontainebleau

As anyone that has been to Font can tell you, it's a magical place and the best bouldering in the world (I stand behind that statement). I think this was my 10th trip to Font and while I'm far from fully versed on all-things-Font, I feel I've learned a thing or two over the years and thought I'd share a few tips for anyone planning a trip to the magical forest. So in no particular order here are my top 5 tips to optimize your trip to Font.

Bring an umbrella. The weather in Font can be notoriously bad and if your trip coincides with a rainy spell you'll want to utilize every weather window available. That means you'll be among the hoards of desperate climbers flocking to the rocks when the rain stops and subsequently running for cover when the showers return. A good umbrella and/or small tarp will be your new best friend as they will keep you dry during short showers or day ending rains. It can also be wise to use the tarp and fashion a little roof in anticipation of the rain and it can even be used to keep the top-out of your project from being saturate. It is worth noting that you can't count on hunkering under a roof as they can be overcrowded and substantial rains will have streams of water gradually encroaching on your cover until there is no more shelter.  It is no fun to pack wet gear into your car and even worse if you're camping with a crashpad doubling as your bed. Hopefully you'll have good weather but if you draw the short straw then do yourself a favor and get an umbrella.
It could be worse, at least they have an umbrella.

Learn how to poop in the woods. Don't you just love it when you are exploring around the boulders and encounter a minefield of human feces. Yeah, neither do I so please be considerate and learn how to poop in the woods. If you don't know let me break it down for you. Take a long walk far away from trafficked areas (not just behind the first boulder or tree) and find a suitable place to dig a sufficient sized hole. Ideally you wouldn't leave behind toilet paper by using what nature provides (moss, smooth sticks, rocks, etc) or packing it out but the bare minimum is to bury it with the poop. After you do your business someone should be able to walk by without even knowing what just transpired there. Seriously, why is this hard for so many people. The ground is not that hard and a stick can easily be used. I could go on ranting but I'll leave it by saying there is never an excuse for leaving your shit for someone to step in and your toilet paper to be blown to the wind. If you have to poop in the woods learn to do it properly and everyone will have a better time in Fontainebleau.

Don't go to Bas Cuvier on a weekend. It can be nice to bump into other climbers at the boulders but it can be a bit much when you have to take a number just to try a problem. Under normal conditions you can expect the popular areas ( Bas Cuvier, Sabot, Isatis, etc..) to be busy but during European holidays and weekends they can feel just like Disneyland as you'll spend most of your day waiting in lines to get on the more popular rides. Fortunately there are multitudes of less popular areas that are equally as good and offer the perfect place to spend your weekends. And if you simply must try one of the uber classics in the middle of Bas Cuvier go early in the morning and you'll have the place to yourself, or wait until the evening we things tend to die down.
Henrik trying an awesome problem that we stumbled upon while exploring the boulders around Rocher d'Avon one Saturday.  No crowds to deal with, just sweet sweet sandstone. 

Forget your tick-list. Font is the one place I've been that genuinely has loads of amazing problems across the entire grade spectrum and I pity those that are slaves to their predesignated tick-lists. With so many stunning problems the idea of spending several days trying to do a single one just seems crazy to me. Yes, you should seek out those classics that will challenge you but I've seen folks so hellbent on sending a V-blahblah project that their whole trip is spent climbing on a handful of problems. What makes Font special is the ability to run around and do so many great problems one after the other and if it's your first trip to Font you'd be cheating yourself by even going to the same area over and over. So dump the tick-list and try to visit as many of the more than 100 areas as you can. And if you really want to appreciate Font I highly recommend doing some curcuits. You'll do tons of great problems, see the whole area and become a better climber. 
Henrik and Lina learning the subtleties of climbing in Font.  Both these problems are on red circuits, awesome, and unlikely to stroke the ego of number-chasers.  

Drink wine and eat cheese. While you might be in Font to climb on rocks don't forget that you are in France and should take advantage of being a tourist. A day trip (or two?) to Paris is probably in order and there is no better way to start your day than picking up some fresh bread from your local boulangerie. Personally, my wine and cheese consumption goes through the roof but there are lots of ways to embrace your inner Frenchman/woman. Just don't take it too far because despite what your mom says you can't quite pull off the pencil mustache and beret. 

Now get out there and start planning you next trip.....  

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