At last! The Stone Country Guidebook to ESSENTIAL FONTAINEBLEAU is now available!
The main issue with publishing a guide to the best 350 problems in the forest was actually identifying them. They had to be varied, they had to exhibit character and they had to be good! I enlisted Colin Lambton as editor... with over 20 years of experience, he knew precisely what to put in and what to leave out, though we did have some mighty editorial arguments. J A Martin was the venue that caused us to come to verbal blows again and again, and Rocher Guichot was finally given a page as I caved to the blackmail of a free pint of beer. Colin I think has done a super job in selecting and balancing the guide and deserves all my thanks for trying to keep the guide on the straight and narrow.
The point was to create a guide mainly for the first-timer which did not confuse and offered a n entry-level to the complexity of Font bouldering, both the technical climbing aspects and the sheer logistical problem of finding some of the boulders! On one trip we had two people on one day approach us with old guidebooks, lost and confused, so we thought there must be room for a pocket book which helped the climber get about better. The maps we endeavoured to make clear and to keep to one page. Only the main boulders and obvious well-marked circuit problems were added, and each topo map is orientated as to the direction the climber approaches the area on foot. Orientating to the compass or GPS is in my experience no use as I have yet to see someone with a compass or GPS in hand in the forest, just a lot of folk with guidebooks turned upside-down!
The approach notes are extensive as we wanted to get people to the areas as quickly and accurately as possible. Each venue has a detailed approach map and description. On the last research trip I wanted to check a venue deep in the woods and wandered for two miles along the ridges of the red Sentier des 25 Bosses. On jumping off onto an innocuous slab of rock, I slipped on treacherous birch leaves, slid down the rock and tore the ligaments in my left foot. I had to hobble out of the forest with a forked stick for crutch - it was over two miles back to a very welcome pack of Ibuprofen. Bouldering's very own Joe Simpson!
So after all that time, it's good to see the guide out and I hope people find it useful. It's designed just to help you have a good time and go at some problems you maybe don't know about, so it's very much a ticklist for the dedicated Font boulderer as well as the first-time visitor. Many thanks to all those who contributed photography and knowledge to the guide.
We hope you enjoy your next visit to the world's best bouldering venue!