Van life in the summer is, perishables aside, on the whole a lot easier. Our living room expands to include the trees, the grass, the beach; solar showers are actually warm and we can bath in lakes, rivers and the sea without freezing. It is also a teeny bit easier because lots of people go on holiday and we house sit, so some time living wild and some time in domestic luxury with the company of some cute pets.
After returning from Switzerland we settled into work very immediately, because we had left our return to the last minute, and climbing as soon as work allowed. Temperatures were infernal so we spent every opportunity in caves with the mosquitoes. We discovered that many of the cave routes in Fontainebleau feature delicate, slopey crux moves on the top outs, and so are fairly useless for hot weather relief. And then, after a few weeks of scorching, lazy days, summer packed it's bags too and followed everyone else to the south coast. Ever since we have had rain and sunny days in the teens to mid-twenties. Basically, a British summer, with all of the accompanying unpredictability without the benefits of good ol' connies.
Consequently it's been a bit weird for climbing, with the small windows of good conditions easy to miss. Still, we tried... We have probably spent more time laying groundwork on new projects and exploring different areas, some of the nicest of which are covered in a previous post. Seeking out training opportunities au naturel and finding the time for cheese fondues avec vin have eased this (always...) unsettling period of transition. We have had some great days climbing circuit problems; one of the best was completing the blue circuit at Rocher Saint-Germain Est, a really good quality set of 36 problems with few bad landings or exposed routes. The Canche aux Merciers red circuit has also given us a couple of good days, and will give at least another before it's finished.
On the harder end of the scale, Sam has climbed a couple of notable 7c's, Exorciseur and classic Michel-Ange, along with a solid range of other boulders between 6a and 7b+. He also snuck in the beautiful, standout line Le Pilier du Désert (7c+) before we finished this write up and fled the forest. I have climbed Le Mandarin (sans Convention) (7b), Le Dolmen des Vieux (7a+) and Malfrat (7a+), and finally sent long term project Respect d'Intention (7a/+), that never seems to feel any easier however much time progresses.
A couple of weekends after our return from Switzerland in May, the 'Karmaster 2017' was advertised at Karma, the Fontainebleau indoor climbing gym. Amazingly, that weekend remained free from work bookings, and we hadn't been to any competitions in some time, so I convinced Sam that the best activity that we could engage in on a sweaty, +30ºC Saturday would be a heavy indoor climbing session. At the very least, we would get a good shower. As it turned out, the comp was great, really well run and the staff were massively accommodating when our online entry failed due to our weird address situation, and when our French failed us. The routes were tonnes of fun too, lots of imaginative moves and the usual range of tricky volumes.
Photo credit: Karma Salle d'Escalade (below)
I managed to come fifth in qualifiers, and so finally got to climb in the French team training zone of the climbing centre for the finals. It was awesome fun, and cool to see some of the top French competitors climbing, including World Cup regular Mikael Mawem. I was happy to hold fifth, with the commendable achievement of one bonus hold. Our biggest win of the day, however, went to Sam, who won the top prize in the tombola of a brand new Snap bouldering pad. Jammy bastard!
Spring and summer have also seen us running Rock & Sun bouldering holiday trips most weekends. These have been great fun and we've met all kinds of interesting, lovely people who have thrown themselves into the climbing and lifestyle of Fontainebleau forest. It is particularly nice to see familiar problems through new eyes and see them climbed in different and innovative ways. Some are more practical than others, but endlessly fascinating!
Three months in Fontainebleau have been wonderful, but long enough to give us itchy feet. Now we head off for Slovenia to meet up with some family, about 1300km driving and 16 hours by internet maps...so at least 25 by our slow travel, with some extra stops on the way, maybe some climbing, sunbathing, swimming, slacking... Bon voyage!