In the spirit of appearing like we're doing something with this website, and out of habit, this post contains our sHitlist; a slightly smug run-down of the boulders we have climbed this trip. Having just spent the better part of three months on and off in the forest of Fontainebleau through the hot, cold, wet and dry we definitely had plenty of time to scramble atop a rock or two. Without too much beating around the boulder, we've also selected our top three climbs...
Welcome to Tijuana (7c), Apremont Envers
Originally, I got on this boulder late on a summer's morning only to find that (surprise, surprise...) friction was nowhere to be found over 30ºC. Spoiled attempts, thinning skin and lots of frustration led to abandonment until the furnaces of hell had subsided. A month and a half later I revisited it on a crisp September morning and oh my, oh my, it felt good. Every hold had some bite and with a few little tweaks at each section of the climb, I found a solid sequence that allowed me to cruise. After such defeat initially, being able to come back and crush made it all the more memorable.
I was originally captivated by this rock after a visit in spring of this year. I had a play on all of the moves on one of our final days of that particular trip but felt pretty quickly that this was a tactical error. Tired and feeling like my 'go' had got up and gone, I didn't make very good progress.
Still though, after returning home following that stint, I was reworking the moves in my head and found myself quite inspired. It's approximately 12-15 moves on pretty reasonable holds considering the grade. The bulk of the difficulty comes from spanning between slopers, maintaining body tension and having enough beans to make the last few powerful moves, again through some pretty demanding sloper holds. The aesthetics of the line also played a part, it being a rising traverse that requires a strong down-climb sequence followed by an elegantly violent couple of moves to top out. All of this takes part on a boulder that resembles a flying saucer that has crashed into the hillside. Being back in summer required some pretty early starts to get the most of the cool conditions, in the end it went down second go of the third session. Loved every moment of it.
Opium (8a), Recloses
My first true Fontainebleau 8a. With much shock I found myself topping out during the second session of trying it, after being resigned to it possibly taking many more hours of attempts. Yay!
Mémoire d'Outre-Tombe (7a+), Rocher Fin
This striking protruding roof was a vague project of mine from a year ago, when I felt pretty close to climbing it but lacking in endurance. On trying it again at the beginning of October, I realised that not only was my endurance still possibly not up to it, but that the last few moves felt hard enough that I didn't actually know how to do them. I found the perfect sequence for the last moves, and then completely forgot it and had to find a new way, with a high right heel that allowed me to move my hands up the 'nose' of the boulder. Naturally, I was too tired to climb the route.
Two days later we returned to Rocher Fin and I worked the end a couple of times then, feeling fresh and strong, climbed the full route, my fourth 7a+.
La Pierre et le Sabre / La Belle Arête (6c), Cuisinière
I was very excited to climb this route, mostly because it is an arete, which I suck at, and quite highball, which I also suck at. It is beautiful, as suggested in the name. The problem follows a crimpy rail into the arete, where you move round the feature and stand up to a slopey 'jug'. The top out is then, in theory, a relatively simple rock up.
It felt like the route lasted for an age, using a lovely heel hook to move out to the arete, then inching up with micro-movements, just tickling the bottom of the jug and having to trust the feet more, pushing up until I finally had the hold. The jug was less juggy than I had hoped for, and the top out took me more time, more creeping up with shaky disco legs. But I got it, topped myself out, and was just ridiculously excited to have climbed this lovely, tenuous line.
La Joker (7a), Cuvier
'Nuff said! La Joker is a super-classic, a 7a climbed before 7a existed, and a route I didn't think I could climb. We went to Bas Cuvier on our way to the ferry port, a last day burn on a busy, sunny October day. I tried the Joker a few times, moving into the characteristic side pull a few times and getting nowhere. I was ready to move on, but Sam and a few other people that were working the problem harrassed me into a couple of last tries. On the first, I started to push up on the high left foot, and the second I pushed up and then found a right toe. The next moves flowed easily, and left me at the top of the boulder, surprised. A bit of recombobulation later and I managed to haul my ass over the top. Who needs to climb La Marie Rose?! (Probably me)
The heady, sociable atmosphere at Cuvier that day was awesome fun, and just made us sad to leave, and hellish keen to go back.
Below are the lists of our more noteworthy ascents including the climbs mentioned above, along with possibly one or two others...