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Fontainebleau and Rain Wisdom

Le Parisien newspaper is not worth the 95 centimes to a poor French speaker. I can do the Sudoku and check the footie scores, but the rest is obscure political blabber, car accidents and endless TV sur-reality. Apart from Le Meteo ... to the visiting boulderer the weather page is the fount of all frustration or elation. Sitting in Bar Bacchus in Milly la Foret, as the rain runs off the Halles and bounces on the cobbled streets, squeezing the life out of a 3 Euro glass of Heineken, the Meteo page is studied forensically. The symbols are crucial to the case as the cryptic French style of weather reporting is more like a red-top Horoscope: 'your umbrellas will be at Granny's, a courageous cloud will follow you'

Spot the squirrel...

The next three days are checked for the best conditions and great debates ensue as to the surest strategy. The heavy cloud and rain symbol means a rest day or exploration, or recovering from a beer and wine tasting. A sun symbol means get out there and crank hard! I had three heavy rain symbols in a row. No matter how many times we looked at that page, the symbols didn't morph into sunny intervals. This was just RAIN. Only one thing for it...

Rain damage...

On the fourth day I pulled my tendons apart as the breeze lifted the clouds and sunny skies dried out the boulders to a crisp rasping friction that made everything feel easy for a while. But this magical time does not last long, the muscles lose power and the skin grows pink and sore. Time for the 400 meg pink smarties, a slice of saucisson in stale sandy bread, then blank chew-staring until the drugs kick in. Then you climb like Jehovah for a while until the pain returns again.

Alien 7c, yet another go...

There is only one thing worse than a rainy day in Font - a good day when you're too trashed to climb. Doing a few easier circuits is the sagest philosophy when things are sore, just don't choose the harder red circuits such as the 'Guichot shredder' or the long finger-manglers of Cuvier and Sabots. Blue circuits like Sabots, Cul du Chien or J A Martin are the best for loosening those tired calves and biceps.

J A Martin

Project exploration is another strategy to avoid the 'black dog' - the misery of not climbing in Font. Buy a map, get yourself lost negotiating the chemins and carrefours of the forest (follow the blue path, never get out of the boat...) and check out some obscure areas such as Gorges du Houx, Mont Aigu or Les Beorlots. You'll come across some great projects to return to and stumble upon some of the more bizarre features of the forest. I came across a pretty little bivouac with a string door with suspended pine cones and a single wooden seat inside. All very nice. In the very depths of the forest. Noone was home but I could feel eyes on me. They were either Blair Witch or Heidi... I didn't think Heidi would come bouncing out the forest with flowers for me, so I buggered off sharpish.

A bit Blair Witch...

Or you could put on some fine dandy clothes, powder your ass and straddle a horse like you're Napoleon of the goddamn forest. The only reasonable thing to do dressed like this is obviously to go shooting the very creatures who own the place...

Elephant Man Bloc

Still, we managed a few good walks through the forest, with the Elephant plateau providing the best light of the week. One new problem fell - the Elephant Man - which is a great 7a sloper problem not at Elephant, oddly enough, that's a complete red herring (yes, that's helpful). I'll keep it till next visit until the desperate direct is done... one good day is all it takes. Some vids below...

Fontainebleau Memoire D'Outre Tombe from John Watson on Vimeo.

A fine roof 7a+ at Rocher Fin. The right exit is 7b.


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