Thu 27th Apr - Mon 1st May, 2017
Guests: Sam Crabb, Andy Hext, Will Johnson, Lydia Galloway, Chris Monk, Martin Johnson & Becky Wick.
*Note due to injuries sustained at the President’s Hotpot no KMC members made it to Font in the end!
Captain’s Log - Day 1
The team assembled in the Reylon Group carpark and slimmed down from two cars and a van to one van - highly efficient, most irregular for a KMC meet! Will had some issues putting the stickers on the van’s headlights whilst the rest of the team slept and your correspondent enjoyed a sherbet dibdab
Captain’s Log - Day 2
After avoiding Paris (no mean feat even with a sat-nav) we arrived at Camping Grez around 0700 and tried to get some sleep until the office opened at 0900. After making innovative use of a paving slab to bash the pegs into the hard ground of our pitch we headed out to Franchard.
Franchard is a very extensive climbing area, demonstrated by the fact that it has a 6km Orange circuit and the fact that three of the team (Will, Sam and Lydia) managed to get lost amongst the boulders. Lydia was so lost we devised a search party was assembled to locate her based on vague descriptions of boulders given over the phone... Luckily, not only did they locate Lydia but also the classic Beetle Juice (f7A+). The team grabbed the mats and used the rest of the afternoon trying to work it out whilst Sam headed off on the 6km Orange circuit, only realising after 30mins that he was doing it in reverse as he’d only passed 4/5 numbered routes - the remainder of the circuit would have to be left for another day.
After a quick venue change, over at Bas Cuvier Chris managed to send Carnage on his first go (f7b+), the route being his main aim this trip, which he had attempted many times on previous trips.
Day 2 turned out to be a very long day, with not much sleep all round, however many routes were climbed and the weather was lovely most of the day, with a little splatter of rain at the end of the afternoon. We ended the day with a chicken stir-fry cooked by Lydia and Chris.
Captain’s Log - Day 3
New term: Blocktimism; to have blind optimism that there is always a better way to climb a problem.
Day 3 was a loooong day, we had amazing hot and sunny weather and everyone forgot to bring sun cream to the crag, except Becky (thankfully). The team started climbing at 11:30 in Canon and finished at 20:00 at Apremont. The orange circuit at Canon turned out to be quite powerful, though the Yellow circuit was lovely, with enough trickier problems to keep it interesting, and much less polish than one would expect for an easier circuit. Andy, Chris and Will had a play on a few f7a problems at Canon, but were only able to link the moves on one route - appropriately called Rédemption.
After Canon we popped over to Apremont and had a quick drink at the Café next to the car park before heading into the forest. Striking lucky, the team found the classic Egoiste (f7a) unoccupied (it usually has about ten locals in-situ) so headed straight to it. Sam took a break after the morning’s climbing to film everyone’s attempts. Everyone managed to get to the crux move, but only Will managed to stick the crux and successfully top out. Chris had a spectacular attempt which ended with him ‘L'Hélicoptère’d off the route, after a big swing to try and latch the crux hold resulted in him spiralling down voicing a squeak of terror on the way.
Back at the campsite we drank lots of wine and beer and had beef fajitas.
Captain’s Log - Day 4
We had good weather until 15:00 when it started to rain and by the evening it was raining very hard with strong winds. We got at least 4/5 hours climbing done at Roche Aux Sabots, then in the evening we went out to eat at a restaurant in Nemours.
A memorable moment was when the tarp was taken out by the wind as the pegs were ripped out of the ground.
Interview with Chris Monk – “The Super Cute Dog & the Struggle of Life”
“It was a Saturday, and Will threw a rubbish patong whilst playing boules on the sand, when suddenly a small dog pounced out of a bush straight onto a bug! However as the dog pushed down the bug must have maneuvered through the sand, because it escaped! The dog then pounced onto the bug again, except the bug yet again escaped. We continued to watch this repeat over and over for a long time until finally…the bug escaped for good.”
Captain’s Log - Day 5
After packing the campsite, the team headed to Bas Cuvier for a quick climb before leaving for the ferry home. Andy managed to finally send Carnage on his first try of the day (after warming up for about 30mins). We drove to Calais where we encountered pretty much no traffic, and yet again avoided driving into Paris! The sea was very rough and Andy wasn’t enjoying the constant swaying.
After dropping Andy back in Sheffield your correspondent had to call the AA as his car was “unhappy”. Good ol’ Brian from the AA sussed the problem, switched off the culprit to temporarily get the car back on the road and back to York by midnight.
A great trip! We had good weather, loads of climbing (still exhausted thinking about it) and had lots of fun. What else could we ask for? ... Well maybe a BBQ and a better tarp (A KMC member to actually come along? - Ed.). Also, Dan O’Brien promised me that I could still count this as a KMC meet if I wrote this report… Until next time!
The UKClimbing.com article on how to improve your bouldering explicitly lists one place you must visit – Fontainebleau. After the success of last years trip (http://karabiner.org/meets/viewer.php?mid=16668) I've decided to run another for the first May bank holiday.
Located about 70km south of Paris, Font is arguably the centre of European bouldering, with hundreds of venues and thousands of problems. The rock is hard sandstone and very varied; from friction slabs to rounded slappy problems; from sharp aretes to steep powerful walls and roofs. The unique nature of the bouldering in the forest, with its clusters of boulders neatly organised into colour-coded graded circuits from the easy (Yellow) to the ridiculous (White) mean that the climbing is accessible, easy to follow and there is something for everyone, everywhere. The nature of the circuits also make bouldering at Fontainebleau a very sociable experience. I absolutely love it and have been about a dozen times – the only issue is that no matter how many problems you get done you always return with more objectives than you arrived with!
Where to Stay
I propose a loosely organised trip similar to the summer alps trip with core days and people free to come and go as they please. The best option for accommodation is camping and Camping Grez which has excellent facilities (showers, washrooms, BBQs, the ability to have a campfire) and doesn’t cost the earth (around £8 per night on average…) It is located south of Font in a small village with a shop and a bakery and is at most 15-30 minutes drive from all the climbing areas.
The easiest way to get to Font is to drive and take the ferry. You can get ferries for about £90-£120 (the earlier you book the better) and then with three people in the car the cost of fuel is easily shared. It is also easy to get there on the train but once you are there getting around isn’t really feasible on public transport. As it is a bank-holiday weekend I will be taking an extra day off and driving down on the Thursday night, climbing for three days and heading back on the Monday (likely after a light bouldering session in the morning!)
If you are planning on coming please drop me an e-mail and click the “Intend to Attend” button on the website. In March I’ll make a group booking of the campsite for those who have confirmed and then try to group people together for transport (which you can then sort out between yourselves). After the group booking there is obviously nothing to stop you deciding to come but you will need to sort out your own camping.
Below are some useful links