The moment had come, it was time to leave Ailefroide and make our penultimate drive to the Foret of Fontainebleau, armed with the 7&8's book which I felt privilaged to own (Thanks to R.C.C's Christmas Raffle), I was psyched.
I've been climbing for 7 years and this is my 9th visit to the Forest. Most of these visits have been in October, so I was convinced the weather would be amazing. Therefore it was a suprise to find the whole forest wet...very wet and would continue to be for the first 2 weeks of our visit.
Despite the rain / very hot damp weather (there was no inbetween these two extreems) I managed to get the following done, all of which I had seen other people do on previous trips and vowed to come back and do myself:
La Fosse Aux Ours f7a (95.2)
Tentation f7a (95.2)
Diversion f7b (Drei Zinnen)
Mur Lombard f7a+ (Franchard Haute Plaines)
Bizzar Bizzar f7a (Franchard C)
(No photo's sadly - its the one next to Karma!)
I felt in all honesty the best I have felt all year. I felt that all the climbing I had done this year had prepared me for Font. I was excited and planned to make my way through my "To Do" list, built up over the year. We just had to wait for the good weather which was to come...
After a fre extremely hot days, everything dried and the temperature dropped, it got cold, the bouldering season had begun...PSYCHED!
I decided to embrace the Bleauisard way and work my weaknesses, first step Excalabur, a high f7a+ with an easy start and a typical Font top out. I'd seen many folk gravel at the top and would have been happy to top this one out...
No matter what I tried, I couldn't grovel enough - my nemesis became Excalabur!!! Along with realising my nemesis of this trip, I also realised the pain in my shoulder was not just a "little niggle" and was not getting any better...my impingement had returned with a vengance. Gutted! I spent 11 days resting, watching other people climb in the most perfect conditions I'd ever seen in Font. Living in a van and not doing anything is DULL!!! I would not reccomend it and although it was only 11 days it felt like a life time, with bitter thoughts of returning home even earlier than planned. After all being in Font, in a van, unable to climb is utterly pointless.
So I rested...and I rested some more, then the rain came. We felt gutted for some friends which were due to arrive for a long weekend, it hadn't stopped raining again...however with some head torches illuminating the boulders we managed to get some climbing in...
Including my first split tip which I was very proud of
After these guys left we sat and waited for the rain to stop and the rock to dry. We calculated that out of about 30 days of being in the forest we had climbing for about 40% of these, that is not including my 11 days off due to the shoulder. With this figure we were getting very disheartened about the weather and the chances of having a dry forest to play around in. Thankfully, my parents arrived at the right time and gave us some rest from sitting in a damp van in a damp forest:
I feel their presence was slightly unfair...
So after 8 other visits to Font, I finally managed to go and see the Palace once home to the kings:
After the parents left, the forecast still didn't look like it was going to improve. We had very low lying fog each morning, making the rock suprisingly wet and then the rain developed in the afternoon. This pattern continued and also continued to sink our hearts. We had no money or time to head South away from the bad weather, the only way was up.
After checking the forecast, it didn't look good. We had to decide whether to end the best year of our life or stay and see if it improves. After 16 days of good climbing conditions in the 39 that we were there, the odds were against us, so with a heavy heart, at 3pm last Monday, we booked the train back and ripped the band aid off quick...by 1030pm we were back in Reading.
It was shock, a heart wrenching shock to leave behind the best year of my life, the lifestyle I love. I couldn't push the "confirm" button, my climbing partner had to do it. By Tuesday evening we were back at Reading Climbing Centre, whilst it was great to see old friends it was sensory over load. The noise and people proved too much compared to the quiet surroundings the past 10 months have offered. Over the last week its become easier, we are still "homeless" with our home being the van until I can get my house back in Feb of next year. Until then, I plan to get strong, and if I can't be strong to be good...
To be continued....