/ Fontainbleau guidebook recommendations.

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jonathan shepherd - on 05 Sep 2017
Hi, after looking online i see there are several guidebooks to font, can anyone recommend a definitive one or views on which is best.
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

This one is the best overall guide: Fontainebleau Fun Bloc

The 5+6 and 7+8 guides are good but the above is better for your first guide.
remus - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

If you want a piece of guidebook art, the two 5+6 guides and the 7+8 are beautiful and about as comprehensive as you get for the forest.

For something a bit more accessible I really like Essential Fontainebleau, as well as being pretty easy to use and offering a good variety of on and off-circuit problems it also captures something of the spirit of the forest https://www.amazon.co.uk/Essential-Fontainebleau-Stone-Country-Bouldering/dp/0992887607
JLS on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

Another vote for "Fun bloc" being the best guide. Others have their merits but "Fun bloc" is currently the best all rounder,
Offwidth - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to JLS:
I agree. Its also the only guide that has attempted to clear out the worst of the lower grade sandbags. Some of the mauve circuit Dame Jouanne f3 problems are the equivalent to soloing an E1 5b and lots of f3 pof polishesd slabs are at least f6A.
Post edited at 14:06
jonathan shepherd - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

Thanks folks, Fun Bloc it is then.
paul__in_sheffield - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

sorry to spoil the party, but I find the Jingo wobbly guides to font to be the most incomprehensible, badly designed guides to anywhere. Ever. I try not to let it get to me but the production and design is a real mess. Maybe I'm just too old but it looks like a kid's school project where just everything has been crammed in. Just gave away my Jingo Wobbly guides to my son who reeled away in horror when he first opened them!
I'm off next Friday, and will be packing 5+6, 7+8, Jacky's normal guide and Jacky's Off Piste.
Examples of really good guidebook layout and content. The 5+6 and 7+8 are, as has been mentioned elsewhere, works of art.
Max factor - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

I can see where you are coming from, but Fun Bloc has gone a long way to ironing out these problems. It's got good maps, sensible info on each sector, and good quality photo topos. I'm not sorry I bought it after many frustrations using the old purple Godoffe guide and IGN map.
ebdon - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Max factor:

The old pink J G guide may win the prize for the worst guide i own!
Its not so bad once you locate the circuit but none of the maps are correctly scaled or orientated and it doesnt differentiate roads from paths!
For General circuit bumbling the ign map is almost enough.
Graham Booth on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

Fun bloc is good as is Fountainbleau climbs by Jackie godolfe
Offwidth - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Max factor:

Exactly.. can't see why Paul is overlooking the massive improvements in those respects. There is still what some regard as 'unnecessary clutter' of symbols but they can be ignored and I like them (it gives a much more tidy view of problem styles/risks/ conditions for instance than the space required to do a similar job in the text). The main problem is that circuits seem to be moved more often recently by the local custodians so the excellent maps need using with caution.
Mehmet Karatay - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Paul Phillips - UKC and UKH:

I just want to add that there is a new 'Top Secret' guide now as the second volume to 'Fun Block'. The two of them combined give the most comprehensive guide to the forest I've seen. Yes, the guidebook format is unusual, but it is very usable. The maps are accurate which is the main thing. I personally don't find I use the photos very much.

The two 5+6s and the 7+8 are good, but only if you're operating at those grades and want to avoid traverses.

Mehmet
thel33ter - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

I recently went with Jingo Wobbly Fun Bloc, Top Secret, 5+6, and the stone monkeys guide.

The Top Secret was by far the best, it took an hour or two of reading (good fun with some wine, especially finding the problem that apparently requires 23 boulder pads) it to learn all the funky symbols etc but once we got that sorted it was superb. Fun Bloc was a bit harder to follow but still good. Stone Monkeys was good if you just wanted to follow a circuit, whilst none of us got on with the 5+6, it very much felt like style over substance.

Saying that, we also found the most fun was just finding a circuit and following it around a chunk of forest, leaving all the pads and guidebooks etc behind. There was a blue circuit in Apremont somewhere in the top secret which was fantastic.
Offwidth - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to thel33ter:

Top Secret is a bit variable though at the lower grades: some yellow and orange circuits are a bit grubby. I'd say its more for regulars or those who prefee to be in quiet places. It is good to be away from the crowds at times and to experience what unpolished Font sandstone is like.
Kahti - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

I have the Godoffe book and the the Stonecountry one. Almost everyone else I met at Font had the Wobbly one and it just seemed way more comprehensive. Lots of useful photo topos and nice having a mix of on and off circuit problems.

I used the Godoffe one way more than the Stonecountry which pretty much just sat in my bag, but this year I'll be swapping to the Wobbly as well I think.
kyaizawa - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

As others have said, I would usually take the Fun Bloc along with Top Secret as my main guides - Top Secret is really good if you want to get away from the crowds a bit. I also have/have used the JG Circuit (ok, but can be tricky to use) and Off-Piste (not recommended) guides, as well as 7+8 (good, but I've not used it too much!!), and thought the Jingo Wobbly pair the best of the lot.
paul__in_sheffield - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Hi Offwidth, I think it's probably old age and grumpiness on my part. I really love guidebooks and have collected them ever since I started climbing. The Jingo Wobbly books just really set my teeth on edge with OCD graphics and clutter. Plus who needs photos of problems? There are maps and painted numbers and you can see style and risks when you stand in front of a problem.
Rant over.
The 5+6 series by contrast is cool, calm and well presented. In truth, it doesn't matter which guide you use, you still get spanked ;-)
fried - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

It should be noted that the 5+6 guides carry loads of lower circuit information. I have the same problem with the Jingowobbly guide as above, that and the renaming of easy circuit problems, that just pisses me off.

Oh, Offwidth still waiting for the list of F3 slabs that are at least 6A.....and please stop trotting out the pof thing, just distracts from the real problem.
Adrien - on 05 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

5+6 and 7+8 are the clearest guidebooks in my opinion (of course that's assuming you operate at those grades). Not quite comprehensive because they don't include traverses, but the majority of traverses are ugly and boring anyway. Contrary to other guidebooks they're presented in landscape orientation, which makes more sense than portrait orientation since many areas follow east/west ridgelines. Directions are spot on.

> and lots of f3 pof polishesd slabs are at least f6A.

Er... Having climbed polished yellow and orange slabs just last week, this is an exaggeration. You can add a + , but I've yet to find an f3 slab that feels as hard as, say, La science-friction (the mauve circuit is a massive sandbag though, but it's also no longer maintained now that many problems are fenced off or lichened, such as the Dame Jouanne itself. However you have to make the distinction between "alpine" and "modern" circuits, the former being indeed harder than the latter even when the colour is the same).

(And polish on those f3 slabs has little to do with pof if you ask me, and much more to do with the sheer numbers of climbers and dirty shoes to a lesser extent.)

PS: glad to know I'll solo E1 when I travel to the UK ;-) What can I solo if I've done Le mur de la mort, E3?
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> sorry to spoil the party, but I find the Jingo wobbly guides to font to be the most incomprehensible, badly designed guides to anywhere.

There is definitely some madness in the the Fun Bloc but compared other Jingo Wobbly's, it's a LOT better. Are you sure you're not referring to Fontainebleau Magique (the first revision of Fun Bloc)?
Offwidth - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Maybe you can ask all 3 producers of the latest Peak Bouldering guides who needs photos of problems?

You might have X-ray eyes but I could never tell if a top-out will involve a small useful hueco or be a horror show; however my main point about the symbols is you can efficiently select areas that will suit you before a first visit.
Offwidth - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Adrien:
Good of you to rubbish my opinions but I'm sticking with them. For the last 8 years or so we graded everything we climbed using the same metrics we used for the Peak BMC guides and YMC grit guides (hardly soft in UK terms). The average grade error we found is a whole number grade on the sandbag side on the most popular circuits, with variations more than another whole number grade, with pof stained pure friction slabs being the most undergraded.

In modern UK grading terms La Science Friction at Apremont is aleady averaging f6B on grade votes (with views I trust agreeing with the low f6B+), so please keep up.

Science Friction (Direct) (f6B)

I've not done lMdlM so I don't know, but very bold E1s would be easy UK 5a so have crux moves that would typically be f4A in Font if steep or f3C if slabby and not too polished.

I might ask you about pof but don't know your experience. I did ask the co-writer of the purple guide when I visited his then very futuristic looking studio just over a decade ago (and lamented that he couldn't get a publisher for the bulk of what he had... pretty much the whole forest mapped with GPS). Pof and chalk is an evil mix and my f6A slabs labelled in the f3s are several grades easier with pof (we graded for clean rock but have used pof in Font and know how well it works).
Post edited at 10:47
Adrien - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

"Rubbish" is a bit strong, I didn't want to come across as discourteous... I do think that upgrading f3 problems to f6a is exaggerated, though I'll admit some of these problems do need to be upgraded (but only to f3+ or maybe f4). Also disagree with Science friction being 6b (consensus on bleau.info is that it is 6a by the way), to me it's actually a benchmark 6a like Le meilleur des mondes. But I think we'll just have to agree to disagree (Marie rose, on the other hand, has become a nasty sandbag if you ask me)

I don't use pof (and believe it is cheating). I don't use much chalk either, I haven't used any yesterday for instance. I find pof to really only be an issue on "intermediate" problems (5th, maybe upper 4th grades), I've never failed on a 6b because of it for instance, only because I climbed poorly, and I've never felt an orange problem was harder than it should be because of pof. When the rock is smooth and glassy, that's not really pof is it?
Pawthos on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:
Hi Jonathan - I too hate the Jingo Wobbly guides ( too much unecessary information, vomited across poorly designed layouts). I'm a big fan of Jacky's guide (the white new edition) for its simple, clear and accurate descriptions of the areas.

I too have had some 'challenges' (ahem) when navigating the forest, which I solved by using the ClimbUp app which I found to be as accurate at the OS app in terms of location. It also contains details of more circuits than are mentioned in my guide books (JG, JW and 5 +6). ClimbUp does give the grades of each problem, but no info about landings/conditions etc.

I tend to agree with OffWidth about the damage to some circuits caused by POF and polish - if you're worried about this, I'd say avoid the circuits at Bas Cuvier and the traversey circuits at Apremont Bizons.

My personal favourites for a fun first trip would be Rocher des Potets, Haute Plains and Desert d'Apremont for easy circuits in a quiet setting with good landings. For more of a challenge the blue circuits Jean des Vignes, Gorge aux Chats and 95.2 were tremendous fun! I've never consistently got around a red or white, but I quite liked the problems in Gorges d'Apremont.

Have fun
Post edited at 11:31
Offwidth - on 06 Sep 2017

In reply Adrian

Well thats the opinion of many: there are similar sandstones across the world and its only at Font where pof was widely used that I've seen that dark sheen polished patches on the obvious slab footholds. It was expert locals who explained that the chalk-pof combination made things worse. Its actually hard to avoid 'pof' on many circuits under the pine trees (probably how the utility was discovered).

I said we think the average overgrade in UK grit terms is about a number on the popular yellow and orange circuits: most f2+ problems should be f3+ etc. This is based on our UK experience and from climbing obscure stuff at Font where there is little polish and grades feel almost OK .. The much fewer f3B or f3C problems that are now f6A in our view (two grades easier than La Science Friction so I'm guessing F5 in your alignment) are on the worst affected orange friction slabs at places like Apremont. In the UK most climbers know what moves on the lowest common UK tech grades: 4a, 4b, 4c and 5a feel like, as there are many classic benchmarks. When grading at Font I call these equivalent to f3, f3+ f4 and f4+, as they are in the latest YMC grade conversion tables. In Font the grades at this level of difficulty seem almost random at times and everyone seems to be 'working off different hymnsheets' in alignment terms, but it's obvious when a pof polished f3C is harder than a f5A... even if I say the former is f6A and you say it can't be as its two grades easier than Science Friction (a point we agree on since I think that is f6B).

I find it bizzare that being one of the best bouldering venues in the world and where the most commonly used grading system was invented and the most popular anywhere at low grades, this mess hasn't been sorted out yet.

I thought I should add that despite my recommendation of the JW guide for new lower grade visitors, I think the purple guide (despite needing some local knowledge and good navigation to use efficently) was one of the most admirable mixes of information, hsitory and ethics I've seen in a guidebook of its size... a connoisseurs masterpiece.
Post edited at 12:34
paul__in_sheffield - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> Maybe you can ask all 3 producers of the latest Peak Bouldering guides who needs photos of problems?

until we have helpful dots and arrows in the UK, the photos help ;-).
Offwidth - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Which might be OK if all those buying the book used it that way (to find and follow a circuit). Most seem to me to pick and mix problems.
Mi|es on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Not sure why everyone seems to disagree with Offwidth, I thought it was the general consensus that all of the glassy holds in font were due to pof.

As to which guide to use, whenever people can't find the particular problem they're looking for, everyone I've known has always reached for the funbloc guide because the photos make it so easy to figure out where you are. The same goes for finding the exact line on a bloc.
Ardverikie2 on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Mi|es:

It might well be a consensus in the uk but it's clearly wrong.
Pof's been used by climbers in Bleau for a century at least but the polish has only become a problem over the last twenty years or so - exactly the period where the chalk ban started to be so widely flouted.

I think the main factor is the failure to clean shoes properly - which pof used to encourage but I suspect the slipping feet caused by chalk as well as the constant brushing it requires play a big part.
Offwidth - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Ardverikie2:

The bleausards I spoke to say part of why its got much worse is pof and chalk form a glassy surface layer.
seankenny - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> sorry to spoil the party, but I find the Jingo wobbly guides to font to be the most incomprehensible, badly designed guides to anywhere. Ever. I try not to let it get to me but the production and design is a real mess.

Aside from the mass of incomprehensible symbols, the order of the sections in the book made no sense to me at all.

Never had any problems with the purple guide, or even the old OTE guide, but Font is never going to be straightforward to put in a map and a guide.
fried - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Nonsense, people climbing without cleaning their shoes cause much more polish. Still waiting for the list of F3 slabs that are really F6 slabs....
AndyPagett - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

Guides that I take to Font:

Fontainebleau Climbs - although many of the circuits in there have been updated since the publication of this edition, I still use the chapter intro descriptions to get a general feel for what each area is like

Fontainebleau Fun Bloc - the current edition is less cluttered than the previous, and I really like the symbols and circuit info. The symbols / colour coding just works for the way my brain works, though I agree it's not for everyone. Probably my most used guide. I will be getting Top Secret (the follow up) to take next year.

5+6 - I always take these guides for 'project days'. They are a work of art.

Also... if I am planning to do a circuit rather than individual mix and match problems, I will check Cosiroc.fr to see when the circuit was last repainted (gives an idea of how visible the symbols will be, plus sometimes the circuits are completely redesigned), and the GPS co-ords of the Depart bloc if it's an obscure location.

TonyB - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I'm not sure why you are getting so many people disagreeing with you with the problems about poor grading at the lower end of the spectrum in Font. I haven't spent a lot of time climbing F3's and F4's and Font, but I have spent enough to know that some are desperate. I often go with our local climbing club, and have been encouraged by them to try some of the yellow circuit problems that they've been working on. I can honestly say that I've really struggled on some of these, and just managed them after several goes, sometimes pulling hard on some grotty crimp that is well out of line for the grade. It could be that I'm missing a trick, but I do think that there are some really hard "easy" climbs. I've climbed quite a few F7A's in the forest, but I really struggled on the easy circuit at Bas Cuvier.


paul__in_sheffield - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to AndyPagett:

Heading off to Font on Saturday with Fontainebleau Climbs and 5+6. I use 5+6 for circuits too, one of the great guidebooks.
I took a look at Cosiroc.fr which I hadn't come across before, looks useful.
Wrt to lower grade grading in Font, then problems at say, Cuvier, come with the warning that they are polished to a glassy sheen so you treat those areas accordingly. I suppose you could add a grade for gloss, but can anyone really tell the difference between 3a and 3b? More reason to spend some time bouldering at Stoney ;-)
In reply to jonathan shepherd:

I might be in the minority but I think Fun Bloc is the worst of the lot. It's completely impossible to follow or make sense of and you're carrying about half a kilo of his holiday photos. His "Top Secret" one is much better; it addresses a lot of the complaints he got i.e. is navigable and also covers the more interesting (quieter) places.
The maps/topos in the Godoffe/Montchaussé ones are not great (you can waste hours bashing through bracken when what you need is to turn around and walk 30m the other way), and their "off piste" one is missing a contents page so finding the section you need is infuriating.
5+6 and 7+8 are brilliant. You want whichever of those covers your grades. Buy that.

I also put a wget of bleau.info on the cheapest tablet money can buy and carry that with me. Cost £25 and a bit of geekery but it means I have every problem everywhere.


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