Summer has brought us back to Fontainebleau Forest for more bouldering, catch ups with friends and the chance of a new career. Climbing conditions are far from ideal but the forest is quiet again after the Easter rush, and bright and mysterious with the masses of vegetation. The sun is hot and the beer is cold, and we have a few weeks off...
Life ceased to be a whirlwind once we got on the road, once we realised that there was no way our van conversion would be completed on time and relaxed with family for a last English supper. And then we drove, the next morning, frantically late of course, down to Newhaven for the ferry departure. It turned out that we weren't late at all and had time to buy last minute beans and peanut butter for valuable gifts. The Seven Sisters was a delight as always; the sunny evening tempted everyone on deck where people were playing violin and guitar to pass their voyage.
The sun set, the ferry docked in France. We drove a little, through quiet dark showers, and stopped in a rest area by a cute little hedge and picnic bench. Opening the doors to get ready for bed, we realised that our little hedge was the only shelter from the highway, and evidently the layby pee spot. C'est la vie, we had already stopped. The night's sleep was peaceful, and not too fragrant, and we were only awoken by the aire overlord doing some gardening, kicking mole hills and giving us accusing looks as he picked up toilet paper (that really wasn't ours). Time to drive to Font.
We arrived to some seriously hot, muggy conditions and a plague of mosquitoes that made the afternoon's climbing at Isatis, with Ian, quite testing, but so much fun to be back climbing on the sandstone. For the next few days we lived in the van, enjoying the easy life of sleeping, climbing, eating.
During this period we met Trev and Dees, of Rock and Sun, to explore the prospect of working together. It was a real pleasure to meet them both, and to learn more about the company, which seems genuinely run with passion and a friendly, facilitative ethos. We did a couple of days training with them as well, and are really excited to see where this will lead (pun unintended - this is bouldering not sport...).
After a few more days we went to stay with friends Helen and Jason, for a bit of a holiday and climbing together. As the weather grew hotter again we began to get up in time for early morning hits on Rocher Cailleau, for Sam to work the Alien bloc and Amber to establish inappropriate projects. He has climbed Alien and Vandale (both 7c) to date, rather beautifully after some solid dedication; I have yet to lay mine to rest - I suspect it may be a very long process.
Projecting has been a great drive as usual, but we have spent a lot more time on the circuits too. It has felt good to focus on technique and movement through the climbs, as well as to try to gain what the original setter intended in the problem. This has felt like both a way to improve our climbing, and to become more immersed in Fontainebleau bouldering. It is also wonderfully humbling, after sending a seven grade roof or something, to get spat off circuit problems of every colour after forgetting some basic footwork.
A drizzly Friday evening led to a serendipitous meeting with Anika and Peter at Gorge aux Chats, as well as their also lovely friends, and consequently lots more sociable bouldering. This theme continued on bumping into David AKA. Mr. Jingo Wobbly. Helen and Jason kindly hosted him for a BBQ which was nice. A few days after we went out for a morning with David so he could get some guidebook snaps. The forest has a way of conjuring up quite a hectic social calendar, as well as making this blog post sound like an eight year old's diary.
Lots more lovely rock. Blah blah blah. More ridiculously hot temperatures which are making us rather lazy. One orange circuit at 35ºC is more than enough, and cold beer and Provence rosé are so good when it's hot. Still, the van won't finish itself and no climbing breeds itchy fingers, so our days of sloth are numbered...