Thursday, 5 September 2013

Font Trip August 2013 - Tom Bonnert

            Following on from my week of climbing in the peak district, last week saw me head of to Fontainebleau. After a week rest I loaded up the car and drove on down to a friends house near London. We arrived after some dire traffic and stayed there for the night. When I say stayed there for the night, I actually mean we got about 2 hours sleep before getting up at 1:30 to drive to the ferry terminal for our early crossing. Everyone was very thankful to me for booking that ferry…
            Once we got to the ferry terminal we had our next hurdle. Attaching the headlamp deflectors. Not as a easy as I thought it might be so off we went looking at peoples headlamps to find someone who new what they were doing. Effort to that random guy for shedding some light on the situation and helping us out.
            On the ferry everyone was looking pretty shattered so some of us got some sleep and others just chilled out. I couldn’t get to sleep on the ferry so I got some breakfast and chilled. Two hours later and we were in France. My first time driving abroad on the wrong side of the road. As it turned out, it was relatively ok and I had no real problems. The only slightly worrying times were when impatient drivers fly by you at the most inappropriate times. Brilliant. The gite was really nice and as soon as we got checked into it, we headed off straight to the local shop for supplies. After this we were off out to get on some rock.

 The Oracle of the Gitè

            We ended up going to a place called Rocher Greau on the first day as it was about the nearest place to where our gite was and we didn’t fancy a long session after we had already been up for about eighteen hours. We arrived, got a bit lost but then stumbled across the boulders. Nothing particularly hard got sent but I did manage to flash a F6b+, ticked a F5+ mantle and had a tickle on a F7a. Once it was dark though we sacked it off, as we didn’t have enough head torches. All in all it was a good, long and tiring day.
        First full days climbing saw us heading off to Buthiers. On my agenda was a climb called Magic Bus F7b, which is a very low roof problem. Thought it would suit me perfectly and as soon as I pulled on I felt like it would go very fast. I worked out the beta that was best for me and set about trying to link it. I managed to get it in about twenty minutes from pulling on. First F7b in Font on the first day of the trip. After this we headed onto quite a high F7a. I was getting on ok on this but it was a sequence of finger cracks and they were starting to hurt a bit too much so I called It a day. We then ended up on a bit of a trek around the forest looking for something to do and ended up playing on Lady Big Claque F7a+, a classic slappy prow, before being rained off.

 Climb: Magic Bus F7b   Photo: Sarah Pashley
Climb: Magic Bus F7b   Photo: Sarah Pashley
Climb: Magic Bus F7b   Photo: Sarah Pashley
Climb: Magic Bus F7b   Photo: Sarah Pashley

            On the second full day of climbing we headed off to the classic crag Bas Cuvier. I had a plan of trying to finally get the climb Carnage F7b+ along with some other people. After warming up on a couple of climbs, including the worlds hardest F6a, La Marie Rose, I felt ready to pull on Carnage. The first move is a hideous pull of a slightly uncomfortable pocket to a crimp. A few years ago this move was impossible for me. I couldn’t even jump off the ground to do the move where as now I was able to do the move relatively easy and completely static. However. I was just unable to then do the next move. I don’t know if it was the heat or something but I tried lots of ways and was not able to do it. Maybe just not my style… After having a few goes on some other F7b’s and F7a’s and getting spanked, I decided I needed to do some mileage on easier climbs and get back into the style of font. I had a really nice afternoon doing loads of the blue and red circuits with Jonny, Tash and Gracie. Some really nice highballs, arêtes and slabs. Jonny even snuck in what he likes to think was a first ascent with me taking the second ascent. We came to this conclusion after not finding the climb in the first guidebook we looked in. We could have looked harder in the other books we had but you know... Had an amazing day really. So much fun to be completely relaxed and enjoying my climbing with mates.

 Photo: Sarah Pashley
Photo: Sarah Pashley

            On the third day we went to Rocher Canon in the morning. I had a problem that I have wanted to get back on ever since I first tried it four and a half years ago. La Levitation F7a+. I got on it and soon got all the moves done wired. It was just linking it. I managed to fall off the very last move after about 15 minutes of attempts and then after that kept falling off the middle section. Once I got some better beta for that section it was on. And soon after I managed to do it. After this a due to temps, I had a big chill out and a walk through the forest with Orrin exploring possible lines. We then decided we were not psyched for anything here and packed up and went over to Franchard Isatis. I had unfinished business at this crag from three and half years ago. This day pretty much turned into tying up loose ends. At Isatis I managed to get the classic La Power-Lolette F6c whilst warming up and then went up to a roof project. I got Lapin Au Canard F7a quite fast and then moved onto the harder variation Ah Plus Facile F7a+. It took me while to work out the best beta for me but once I had, I set about linking it. It took me about an hour of attempts before I managed to get it. Skin was lost on this day…
            The next day I planned to have a rest day but it didn’t really turn out that way. I was good in the morning as we went to Cul De Chien and I just stood, watched and spotted. But once we went down to a slab mid afternoon I was too psyched. The slab was Belle Lurette F7a, which the whole group managed to send with many ascents being flashes including a flash from myself. We then decided to head on down to Roche Aux Sabots for the cooler temps. First up we got on Jet set F7a, a really cool problem with a dyno for the top hold. Managed to get this on my sixth attempt. Then moved onto Graviton F7a, a problem with a massive thrutch to get over the top. It took me a couple of goes to figure out where was best to put my heel for the top out and then it clicked and I managed it. Then we bush wacked our way over to a problem called Zen F7a. Before I got on this I managed to get a cheeky flash on Bioethique F7a+. My first F7a+ flash. I then set about working Zen, which turned into a bit of a stamina fest with a slappy top out. With some beta obtained from Jonny I managed to link it and grab the top. Great day.
            Fifth day on and we went back to Franchard Isatis. First boulder we walked past looked really cool so we did some problems on this to warm up. I managed to flash Cannonball F6b, and did SpongeBob F6b+ and Side Show Bob F6b+. I then moved on and after pretty much destroying my middle fingertip on Mur Lombard F7a+, and coming so close to doing it, I decided to leave it for another time and move on. We then ended up on a cool little problem called Panzer F7a. A very low problem with a boulder right in the way for the crux move making it much harder. I managed to get it on my fifth go. Even got a cheeky use of the knee in there. We then moved onto Abdolobotomy F7a, a massive one-move wonder of a problem. Massive gaston to gaston press. Managed it on my fourth go so was psyched with that. Next up was Le Surplomb Feuillete Droite F7a+. Once I had got my head around the committing last move I managed to hold the top. I then pulled on and did Le Surplomb Feuillete Gauche F7a on my first go. Psyched again after this day. And it wasn’t the end of it either.

Climb: Sideshow Bob F6b+   Photo: Sarah Pashley

            Later that evening me, Orrin, Jen and Tash went to Drei Zennin to do some night time climbing. I wanted to get on a problem called Diversion F7b, which is a pocket pulling forty-degree overhang. Once I got there I was so psyched for it. After taking some time to warm up and get the moves done, I started the process of trying to link it. I came very close and took a big fall. Very scary falling in the dark, even when there are so many torches on. After this I rested and went again and managed to get it. Sweet. First time night climbing and I had done a F7b.

Climb: Diversion F7b   Photo: Orrin Coley
 Climb: Diversion F7b   Photo: Orrin Coley

            Friday was basically the last day climbing we would have as the Saturday was going to be too hectic with moving out the gite and driving up to the ferry. We headed to 95.2 where I ended up not pulling on anything and everyone else also never getting very psyched so we decided to move onto Rocher Des Souris. Walking along the path we saw the boulders and instantly headed over to an amazing looking rock. It turned out to be Vis-à-vis F7a. I tried it for a while and couldn’t do a big move off a crimp, and then when I was on the cusp of giving up, Jonny came up with some amazing beta. It was just what I needed and I managed it straight away after pulling back on. Then moved onto another boulder where I managed to do Yoga F6c+ as the sun was disappearing.

Climb: Vis-a-vis F7a   Photo: Sarah Pashley
Climb: Vis-a-vis F7a   Photo: Sarah Pashley

Then it was time for another night session. This time everyone was keen. We headed over to Canche Aux Merciers with the plan to get on Le Grande Marche F7a+. It took us a little time to find the problem but once we found it, we lit it up and got going. For me there was a really poor finger jam. Everyone else could get it in very well but I couldn’t. I ended up doing a very burly undercut pulling method, which got me up the problem as soon as I tried it. Slightly frustrating after trying the finger lock so many times. Who knows, maybe the flash would have even happened if I had spotted my better beta…
            So that rounds of my trip. Had an amazing time and thanks to everyone who made it so good. Psyched to get back there soon. Couple more weeks and then I am back at uni with some new plans. Will keep you posted on that soon.
Below is a little description of what I thought of the places we climbed at this trip for those of you who are keen and might be heading over anytime soon. Hope it is useful…

Rocher Greau – A small crag that looks a bit unused and has got quite green. There was some cool things there but also some very high boulders with sketchy top outs. If you’re really keen, maybe take a rope and a few brushes.

Buthiers – A crag with a short walk in with the boulders being spread out in clusters. I would recommend spending a morning or afternoon there and maybe combining with another place if your looking for lots to do in a day. Not a massive location so easy to navigate around without getting lost. Quite a shady place as well if you’re looking for somewhere to go on the hotter days.
Recommended climbs. Magic Bus F7b and Lady Big Claque F7a+. For a bit of fun you can also mantle an obvious problem to the right of magic bus finish.

Bas Cuvier – Another crag with parking just beside the boulders so very quick walk in. Can easily spend multiple days here without getting bored of things to do and could venture up to the other Cuvier sectors. Even though it is a big sector, because the boulders are quite close together, navigating between problems is still relatively easy. Some of the boulders are on the higher end of the spectrum but there is a mix of sizes to suit everyone. Shady and sunny depending on which boulders you are on so good for many weathers.
Recommended climbs. La Dalle aux Deux Aretes F5, La Marie Rose F6a, Le Trou du Simon F6a, La Joker F7a and Carnage F7b+.

Rocher Canon – Little bit more walking to do at this crag as the boulders are spread out around a small hill. You reach the first cluster of boulders quite fast and then they are a little spread out to the other clusters. Navigating is slightly trickier because of this but with a guidebook it is fine. Boulder problems are not as high here and the tress are quite spread out so is not that shady.
Recommended climbs. La Levitation F7a+.

Franchard Isatis – Yet another roadside parking venue with loads of shade. If it is hot then this is a really good place to go to. Climbing is very extensive at Isatis and will keep you occupied for multiple days. Boulders are spread out into clusters and without a book it is quite hard to locate the problems further away from the middle. However with a book it is quite easy to navigate due to good paths. Boulders are not too high with a few highballs.
Recommended climbs. Cannonball F6b, Sideshow Bob F6b+, La Power Lolette F6c, Mur Lombard F7a+, Ah Plus Facile F7a+ and La Surplomb Feuillete Droite F7a+.

Cul De Chien – Not a roadside parking venue and has a walk in of about ten to fifteen minutes. Park at the car park for Roche Aux Sabots, walk past this such that it is on your right and then turn right onto a sandy path at an obvious right turn. Follow this across a sandy clearing and you will be at Cul de Chien. Really hot venue if it’s sunny due to there being no trees. Will dry reasonably fast if it has rained but does suffer from grease. Really nice place to go if you’re climbing on a family holiday or with some non-climbers as the sand offers some good sitting and picnic spots. There are one or two high lines but mainly low bouldering.
Recommended climbs. Le Toit du Cul de Chien F7a, Belle Lurette F7a and Arabesque F7b+.

Roche Aux Sabots – Short walk in, as the boulders are visible from the car park. There is also lots of shade due to the many trees so a good hot weather venue. Very easy to find the problems you are looking for as everything is in one place and close together. Loads to go at as well so a good full days climbing here is amazing.
Recommended climbs. Jet Set F7a, Graviton F7a and Zen F7a

95.2 – Another venue with a long walk in. This takes about fifteen minutes to walk in to. However it is a really good venue to go to if it has rained the night before as it is situated on top of a hill and dries nice and fast. The walk goes along an obvious path until a clearing, skirt around the clearing anti-clockwise and then take another obvious path through the forest up a hill. This path leads straight to the boulders. It has sunny spots and drier spots due to clearings in the forest. Boulders are not too high and navigating is nice and easy. If you end up down the hill by L’Ange Naif then there is a big path that you can follow opposite the problem to take you to a big T-junction. Turn right here and then left at the next available turning and you end up back at the car park without having to walk all the way back up the hill.
Recommended climbs. Retour Aux Sources F7a

Rocher De Souris – A bit off the beaten track and is one of the boulder fields that you pass on your right as your walking into 95.2. The problems are a bit lichened, high and not that good quality (in my opinion) if you go to far up the hill.
Recommended climbs. Yoga F6c+ and Vis-à-vis F7a

Cannonball F6b
(unknown) F6b+
SpongeBob F6b+
Sideshow Bob F6b+
La Power Lolette F6c
Yoga F6c+
Lapin Au Canard F7a
Belle Lurette F7a
Jet Set F7a
Graviton F7a
Zen F7a
Panzer F7a
Abdolobotomy F7a
La Surplomb Feuillete Gauche F7a
Vis-à-vis F7a
Levitation F7a+
Ah Plus Facile F7a+
Bioethique F7a+
La Surplomb Feuillete Droite F7a+
Le Grande Marche F7a+
Magic Bus F7b
Diversion F7b

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