/ Font: general ethical decline

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Offwidth - on 07 Apr 2013
Just back and was pretty disappointed to see how ethics still seem to be slowly going backwards out there, despite much clear advice in the guidebooks. Many boulderers had no towel or doormat or suitable bouldering mat tops to clean their feet. There is a mass over-use of chalk, including on obvious footholds (!??) and many unecessary tick marks. Some old french locals just got laughed at when they questioned some particulary blatant abusers on the chalk front. Conditions were pretty mint but increasing polish and chalk gunk made some old favorites seem harder irrespective.
Jon Stewart - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> There is a mass over-use of chalk, including on obvious footholds (!??) and many unecessary tick marks.

It's amazing what some people believe will help them climb a boulder problem...

> Some old french locals just got laughed at when they questioned some particulary blatant abusers on the chalk front.

It's unfortunate that some people protested rather too much about chalk in Font. It is laughable to be told that chalk "kills the rock" (as I have been told more than once, you know the rest - it involves a rag and certain tree resin) and that locals and visiting French people don't use it, when all the first hand, photographic and video evidence demonstrates without a shadow of doubt that that is completely false. A united and well-publicised "please respect our rocks and use chalk sparingly, and remove it using a very soft brush" policy would have been far more sensible.

> Conditions were pretty mint but increasing polish and chalk gunk made some old favorites seem harder irrespective.

Shame.

Sean Bell - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth: Good post! Just back from a trip there last week and although for the most part everyone was being responsible, I did witness some folk clambering up some blue circuit problems in their sandy/muddy trainers(got me very mad!) and some ridiculous tick marks on obvious handholds on a couple problems at Apremont, they were almost the width of a white line in the middle of the road!!! NO NEED! If you are so blind to require that size, fair enough, but then at least brush it off before you leave as with all tick marks and chalk residue you may have planted on the problem, its basic and simple etiquette which requires little time or effort.I agree with conditions being good but yeah, everything seemed a bit harder, for instance, due to the insane polish and overchalking, I failed to flash Karma. ;-).I wish! Seriously though, as with recent events regarding the sports committees http://bleau.info/forum/26201.html we all have to be a bit more careful how we treat the forest to ensure we are still allowed to go play in it in the future..
Steve nevers on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
AFAIK some of the painted on tickmarks are part of the circuit system they use?

I recall reading on some webpage that some starting holds etc are marked, also some have arrows guiding to the next hold on rocks with a lot of problems on.. Or is this not the case?
deacondeacon - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Steve nevers: that isn't what offwidth is talking about. The arrows are about the size of a ten pence piece and are fairly unobtrusive (you need to be within 10' of the rock before you see them).
What he's getting at is large lines marking hidden jugs, which tbh are rarely needed and if they are needed a small dot (which can easily be brushed off) will suffice.
I've only been going to font for the last few years but the hordes of Brits with little respect for the area is most definitely on the increase.
Jon Stewart - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:

> What he's getting at is large lines marking hidden jugs

I suspect what he's getting at is large lines marking bloody obvious jugs!

Some of the tickmarks you see are pretty hilarious - but I often think I shouldn't be mean about them, because they could be a low-vision aid, and I think bouldering should be accessible to all.
Steve nevers on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to deacondeacon:

Fair enough, was just checking if that hadn't been over looked thats all. :)

In this case then it seems to be going directly against what the locals have asked for, i.e: don't add problems without consent and don't f**k with the established ones. Pretty poor show by the sounds of it.
johncoxmysteriously - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Yeah, it's a shame. It's amazing how long Font has resisted being trashed, but I think we're getting the measure of it now. I give it ten years.

jcm
Bruce Hooker - on 07 Apr 2013
In reply to Steve nevers:

> Or is this not the case?

No, it's not the case. Circuits are marked as that's the normal way to climb there but not the holds themselves.

As for those that say use chalk and brush it off, that would only add to the polish. The best is to accept the COSIROC requests, and Fontainebleau Forest regulations, and not use chalk at all. If this means you have to climb at your real grade your ego will recover after a beer or two, in the knowledge that you have done your bit to preserve the forest for future generations.
Offwidth - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

I wondered when you would pop up ;-)

Like Jon Stewart I suspect COSIROC have shot themselves in the foot. It would have been much easier and way more realistic to accept reality and apply peer pressure on squeeky clean feet and absolute minimal chalk use. Top performers climb better with some chalk and even at my lowly grades chalk has stopped many a nasty uncontrolled fall from a rounded top-out on quite a few of the thousands of easier circuit sandbags. However I can't see the Forest authorities standing by if the situation gets much worse. Hence I do want to publisise the fact that folk should use chalk very sparingly (if your hands have no excess there should be no need to brush it from the rock) and avoid tickmarks and from the climbing perspective, to preserve the problems for the future, to never chalk footholds and keep feet squeeky clean.
Ramblin dave - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

I agree with Bruce - idiots like this:
http://bleau.info/images/jo.montchausse/groskneebars3.jpg
need to have a word with themselves and accept that they basically just aren't very good at climbing...
Durbs on 08 Apr 2013
I didn't see much chalk abuse, but did clean a fair few ticks (including a series of "L" and "R" marks up an arete!!) off things whilst I was recovering. And I did chastise someone I was climbing with for chalking a foot-hold...

It's bollocks to say the locals don't use chalk - they do. I don't think I saw anyone using pof this trip mind you.
Sean Bell - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> I agree with Bruce - idiots like this:
> http://bleau.info/images/jo.montchausse/groskneebars3.jpg
> need to have a word with themselves and accept that they basically just aren't very good at climbing...

The legend! :-)
i.munro - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

> Like Jon Stewart I suspect COSIROC have shot themselves in the foot. It would have been much easier and way more realistic to accept reality and apply peer pressure on squeeky clean feet and absolute minimal chalk use.

For those who don't remember, when chalk started to appear the southern sandstone community reacted exactly like the Bleausards (i.e. with horror that people were making the holds slippery) & a total ban, like Bleau, was discussed. In the end an appeal for minimal chalk use, just as you describe was decided on .

The result : every hold including footholds is now plastered with the stuff. Exactly the same result I would suggest as would have happened in Bleau if the same approach had been taken.
Offwidth - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Genius...;-)

I've been to his house to buy one of his bouldering mats and see his guidebook work (well ahead of its time, and sadly still mostly unpublished)

In reply to i.munro:

...so heads they mostly win and tails we mostly lose.... I'd still say the more sensible approach is the one we should follow irrespective (ie advise best behaviour, not try an unworkable ban). The friction problems at Font are of course made worse by the evil mixture of pof and chalk.
i.munro - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

> ...... I'd still say the more sensible approach is the one we should follow irrespective (ie advise best behaviour, not try an unworkable ban).

& I'd say that a phrase like "use the minimum amount of chalk" is simply meaningless noise when nobody knows what the minimum is & even if we did know you couldn't measure the amount used.

I suspect it would be better to just skip it & focus on clear unambiguous advice like mats & clean shoes.
Offwidth - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to i.munro:

I guess I'm an optimist. I've pursuaded many to do both (use less chalk and clean their shoes). Also chalk isn't so much of a potential access issue for SS as it is for Font, so it needs advice there and honest realistic is better than the alternative (unless forced on us).
Durbs on 08 Apr 2013
Personally, I think it's all a bit moot.

Of the climbers there (and nationality didn't make any difference), there were either those that cleaned shoes, used chalk only when needed and left little rubbish.

Or you had those chalking up between each attempt, not shoe-cleaning and using ticks.

I'm sure both were aware of the ethics, they just choose to ignore them (or not).
Offwidth - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to Durbs:

You could say exactly the same about any ethical issues that became so serious that they actually led to change (like chipping, or ropes running over the top edges at SS). If there is a clear message and nearly everyone behaves and speaks up about when they see the ethical guidance ignored, lazy people adjust.

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