/ Fontainebleau

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Kevin Avery - UKC - on 02 Feb 2009
The beautiful forested area around Fontainebleau is well known amongst climbers as a bouldering "Mecca." However for newcomers it can prove to be a somewhat baffling maze of blocs, roads, tracks and trees. So where do you start? Well, Stow Kelner's immensely popular 2006 Font fact-file has been given a makeover and provides absolutely everything you need to know to plan your trip. Interested? Then read on...


We are always keen to hear about your favorite destinations so if you have been somewhere and want to rave about it then please contact kevin@ukclimbing.com with a proposal.
ghisino - on 02 Feb 2009
I read the article very quickly.

It is generally good and says verifiable facts (I live close to Paris since october) but I feel that some instruction on Grés intrinsic fragility is missing.

Fontainebleau Grés is not the softest sandstone on earth, but for sure it is not "hard" and solid everywhere and in every conditions.

Climbing in bleau when it is partially dry is always a big risk and should be avoided.

If you just can't wait, at least stick to the following :
1) Avoid the southern half of the forest, expecially Elephant and Dame Jouanne, where grés is softer.
2) Avoid flakes, flaky crimps, anything that has a crack nearby, and protruding features (eg very sculpted "brains")
3)Do not "force" the drying process with towels and chalk. It is ok on granite, but not here unfortunately
4)If a sloper is sandy when humid, it is probably because it's actually eroding a bit. Do not start to brush like crazy, it can even become more sandy than before. Slapping a cloth does a better job in this case.
5) Strictly avoid metallic brushes and prefer natural fibers.

Also I'd say, from what I've seen, that coming here in full winter (December and January) is quite a risk. The forest, when temperatures are between 0 and 10°, has this awful moisture-retaining behaviour and unless it is very windy and clear, things can stay awfully humid for several days in a row, with hardly any real rain. It has already happened that I went to the quickest drying area in a clear sunny day and everything was wet or very humid.

Then you can have a week of stable good weather with some wind and it is heaven, you feel the sandstone grain so much that slopers start to hurt a bit!

As for chalk vs pof, I'd say that I have yet to meet a local that climbs 7a or more and hasn't switched to chalk-only. Many of the pof aficionados seem to be beginners or easy climbers somehow feeling in charge of keeping the tradition...
Also, the pof resin you can buy is far from being a "natural" thing, it has been processed in chemical factories not less than magnesium carbonate...

Just do not be silly in unnecessary heavy thickmarking and brush away your traces before leaving the boulder.

Doug on 04 Feb 2009
In reply to ghisino: He also doesn't know the local public transport very well either (not surprising given his preference for having a car I suppose)

"Charles de Gaulle - A lot of discount carriers fly to CdG. If you fly into CdG, make sure you have a map for the drive to Font. You basically have to go due south on the 104 towards Disneyland Paris and Melun, avoiding Paris itself. Maybe an hour with little traffic? If you have ignored everyone's advice, and are car-less, you have to somehow get to Gare du Lyon - I think there is a bus - from here you pick up the train to Bois le Roi and Font."

A short search of the numerous threads about 'bleau will explain the easiest way from CDG - RER ligne B (train) to Chatelet - Les Halles followed by RER ligne A to the Gare de Lyon - very easy & likely to take about 30 minutes. Otherwise there's an AirFrance operated bus but usually much slower.

Beauvais airport is in the north of Paris and the most inconvenient for Font. I think you get a bus to Chatelet or something, and then get to Gare de Lyon for the train to Font. Driving would be a pain because you have to go through Paris"

clearly he's never caught the bus ! its goes to Porte Maillot from where the easiest is to take the Metro (ligne 1) to the Gare de Lyon.

Its also worth noting that since the start of the year, some trains which used to stop at Bois les Rois, don't anymore (including the 09.06 on a Sunday morning
seagull on 04 Feb 2009
In reply to Kevin Avery - UKC:

People who aren't good on slopers and mantles and who aren't walking muscles shouldn't be put off. There are World class problems of every type at pretty much every grade. Font is my favourite place in the World and I favour the crimp!

ghisino - on 04 Feb 2009
In reply to seagull:

true, some areas are very surprising when you have this stereotype bleau=slopers.

though it should also be said that it's mostly vertical walls or slabs with razor-like microcrimps (grattons).
If you tell the average contemporary boulderer about "crimpers" he'll think of overhanging fingery problems, like the stuff you can find in some areas of Ticino.

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