“Where shall we go today?”
Font trips always seem to involve spending a disturbingly disproportionate amount of time discussing which crag to visit; this trip was no exception. With 6 women, 2 babies and a football-mad 11 year old boy, all stuck in an inconveniently located gite and plagued by variable weather, we had the potential to not make it past the end of the road.
Fortunately, I had remembered to pack Essential Fontainebleau, the latest guidebook from Stone Country, and suddenly it all became a walk in the park.
Stone Country are a Scotland based adventure book publishing company with a soft spot for bouldering. Their Font guidebook packs an incredible amount of information in to a genuinely pocket-sized and user friendly format, at an excellent price of £9.99.
The book whisked us seamlessly to all the major Fontainebleau climbing areas, providing the vital statistics that make for a successful trip - such as where to find shade, speed to dry after rain and busyness. The fold out road-map proved to be accurate and the descriptions to find the crags worked better than the sat nav that a friend had brought along. Once we had ditched the Tom Tom (and its owner) and relied on this guide book, we never got lost.
Every circuit at the crag is listed and a boulder lay out map provided, but full circuit descriptions with grades have been omitted. Instead, the classic problems have been picked out and photographed. Symbols have been used to describe the climbing style such as reachy, slopey and highball. A broad range of grades are covered, so the book is useful to all levels of climber. If however you are a full-on font of all Font knowledge, then this, being a selected guide, may not be quite enough for you. Equally, if you are more Font 8B than Font 6B, you may be more of a 7+8 customer.
General details on where to stay, where to eat and travelling are very brief, but in the age of the internet you will have sorted all this out before you get there with more up to date information than a book can ever provide. See the UKC Font Article.
Despite a disappointing front cover, the photographs are of very good quality and provide a real feel for the rock and climbing style unique to Fontainebleau. One word of caution: try opening the pages before buying. Some pages of my book were stuck together in places, causing damage when opened.
If you are planning your first trip to Fontainebleau or choosing to travel light, this could easily be the only guide book that you need to take. If you are an aspiring Bleausard or a guidebook geek you may wish to invest in an additional guide that provides more detailed coverage of circuits and grades.
Small, full colour and accurate.
- More information: Stone Country Website
Suzie Wilson is a Llanberis based climber. She enjoys all types of climbing, from Slate slabs, through to Limestone slabs and even the odd sandstone slab in Font.
She visits Fontainbleau once a year and climbs mainly in the mid 6's.