Monday, February 28, 2011

Topping Out

Kevin on de la Terra a la Lune

The beginning of week two...

Our routine is becoming much more comfortable. Everyone seems to be sleeping well, and everyone has become accustomed to imperfect weather. We have also continued the trend of visiting new areas just about every day. At 95.2 several of us enjoyed ascents of the classic l'Ange Naif utilizing various methods, while others played on Retour aux Sources. Gorge aux Chats provided the perfect location to wrap up one afternoon. There, several people tried the beautiful face of Rubis sur l'Ongle, many of our crew scampered around on named and unnamed moderates, all the while Ingar, Randy and I tried the powerful compression problem Magneton.

Scott on l'Ange Naif

Nora on Retour aux Sources

Yesterday we all started out at a leisurely pace in a quiet sector called Canche aux Merciers. There are two standout characteristics of this place, in my opinion, that make this sector one worth visiting. First, the outstanding circuits provide something for everyone. For the uninitiated, these circuits are a series of numbered climbs that are intended to be climbed in ascending order beginning with the first. These circuits are color coded and these colors refer to their relative difficulty. Orange, I believe, is the easy mountaineers circuit for example. Canche aux Merciers has an orange, red, and blue circuit of high quality. The second stand-out attraction is a very unique tunnel right through the heart of one of the boulders. Long story short, Noah, Monica and I tried to make it through but ultimately I was the only one to fit through the tight squeeze. I'd give it a 7C+ tunneling grade. Hopefully Randy will provide some photos or video so that it can be fully appreciated because words simply will not do it justice.

Yesterday afternoon we headed back to Cuvier Rempart. The highlight of my session there was managing to maneuver my way up the classic top-out problem Baisers Voles. The top out problem is something to behold. Whereas when a climber describes a mantle problem, pocket problem, sloper problem, roof climb, or slab it is fairly easy for most experience climbers to understand or even imagine the type of climbing involved on said climb. I would venture to guess that most climbers would not be able to fully grasp the nuances and unique qualities that define 'top-out' problems unless those climbers had every visited Fontainebleau. Yes, this type of problem occurs elsewhere but with nowhere near the regularity or quality of here in Font. Now that I'm aware of this type, I know that is a style I would love to master because at the moment it feels soooo desperate!

Today was a rest day for myself, but Monica, Scott, and Randy all headed out to the rocks. I tagged along and can report the Monica is progressing on her project at Apremont, Scott made a fast ascent of de la Terre a la Lune at Gorge du Houx, and Randy made some progress on his project Tajine, also at Gorge du Houx. At the end of the day Randy joined the local boys Gregoire, Kevin, and Moon whilst they through themselves at the stunning highball Londinium. It was difficult to keep my shoes in my pack today I can tell you that, but I'm optimistic that the rest will pay off for me tomorrow.

Until the next report,

A revoir!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick Update

Markus of Austria on "Big Jim"

Sitting here in the gite waiting for rocks to dry. Scott and I have already been out once to get pastries and we may go again soon.

The last two days have been a mix of climbing and resting. We went into the town of Fontainebleau proper and had a walk around the Chateau's gardens. Afterward we headed over to Franchard Cuisinaire where the rest of the team was climbing. My head spun at all the rock.

Scott happy with baked goods.

Fontain at the chateau

Yesterday we had a nice afternoon at Petite Bois. I managed a few classics and everyone seemed to enjoy the nice conditions before the rain came at 4:30.

More to come.

Edit: Evening update. Today became a rest day. Below is a picture of the highlight of my day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to Fontainebleau

I'm here and I'm happy

I awoke on Friday morning at 6:40AM after Becky's alarm went off. I of course did not wake up to my own alarm, which I set for 6:30....PM We'll call that the first bullet dodged.

Our flight was delayed about 40 minutes because of poor visibility, our layover in Charlotte was only an hour...they held our flight because 22 other passengers were trying to make the same connection.

As we were boarding in San Francisco Monica noticed Scott's crash pad on the tarmac after they had finished loading all of the other luggage...I finally convinced a US Airways employee that the bag DID indeed belong to us and we would like it on the plane.

Aside from these near misses our travel was pretty seamless. Scott, Monica and I arrived in Paris to grey skies and a bit of rain about 30 minutes ahead of schedule at 9:45am Saturday morning. We quickly gathered our bags and claimed our rental car (a brand new Picasso) and headed south to Larchant. Our quaint little gite is just a stones throw away from the beautiful ruins of the town's Basilica and it will be a perfect little home form our month long stay. After dropping off our belongings we wasted no time walking around the corner to the nearest boulangerie where we indulged our starved stomachs in pan au chocolate and a fresh bagette.


We would have loved to climb this day but the weather forced us to remain patient. We took the opportunity to walk around a couple of the local boulders though, and I wasn't disappointed. At Petit Bois we had a look at Big Jim, Big Dragon, L'Oeuf and La Baleine among a very nice circuit of moderates. All of these looked incredible. Just down the road from there is a small mound called Rocher Greau. Rocher Greau is perhaps a little less dense with

problems but it holds a few stunning gems. Both Megalithe and Tigre et Dragon were high on my "to do" list before I'd arrived and seeing them in person only reinforced that desire. Actually, upon viewing Tigre et Dragon I sorta lost my shit, here is one of the problems I'd daydreamed about for the better part of about two years and it looked even better than I'd imagined. This boulder which I'd used as a motivational tool to get me through countless training sessions and even more monotonous days behind the desk and here is sits in front of me begging to be climbed...except it was wet. Oh well, after not sleeping for 26 hours I probably wouldn't have faired too well anyway.

Tiger et Dragon

On Sunday I awoke at about 5am with bright eyes and hungry for boulders. I knew I had to be patient though because the sky was still overcast and it had rained the day before. Eventually though, we ventured out to Apremont where Scott thought we'd have a good chance at finding dry rock. Upon our arrival I doubted our chances. Every boulder felt damp if not soaked but we kept walking and eventually found some a small cluster of less wet boulders. At first I just planned on climbing a beautiful low angle slab 'just to get it out of my system' but that led to another slab, which led to a little overhang, which soon enough led me into a pretty decent warm up. At this time we were joined for the first time by Beth and Randy and shortly after by Gregoire and Kevin, two locals that Randy has know for many years. Lastly we were joined by a very slight breeze which started to blow though making more climbs increasingly possible.

By the end of the afternoon we'd all managed to get our fix. The highlights included several ascents of Motus Vivaldi and the classic Onde de Choc as well as both Beth and Monica topping out a beautiful highball called Anglomaniaque.

Nightfall could not subdue my enthusiasm and so I followed Randy out to the Cul de Chien for a headlamp session on the amazing roof of that area. I was able to do all of the moves on the classic Eclipse but was ultimately thwarted by fatigue and wet holds, Randy however was able to hang on for a quick repeat despite the dampness.

After a less than ideal night of sleep (I woke up at 3AM) I'm now eager anticipating today's action. I think we may go to Cuvier but really it doesn't matter. The feeling in the forest is magical, the vibe around the gite peaceful, and I am extremely content.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just a Week Away

Between my last post and now not much has happened. I've festered, I've moaned, I've worked and I've climbed a little in the gym. Outdoor rock climbing has been extremely infrequent. One brief trip to Mammoth/Bishop for Becky's family reunion with a little climbing mixed in and a day at Castle Rock, that's it.

The light at the end of this dark tunnel is that a week from now I'll be on a plane to Paris where I'll spend a month in the mythical forest of Fontainebleau. Eat. Sleep. Climb. That's it for a month, I couldn't be more excited.

My finger, and my grip strength, are not yet 100% but both have significantly improved over the last 3 months. I've been able to train a bit, albeit not to the extent that I'd like, but I'm optimistic that I'll be able to grapple my way to the top of a few boulders.

Honestly though I'm really excited to just forget about life for a while, and just do what I love. I'm going to try and blog regularly while I'm there for those of you that care. I know that when I'm unable to get out I really appreciate reading about other like-minded individuals that are. So I'll do my best to contribute to the psyche-building world of climbing blogs and try to steer away from the self-indulgent sprayfests that many blogs devolve into.