Summer is not the classic season for climbing in la Foret de Fontainebleau but it can be wonderful, a time for tall trees and damp caves, shady spots and early mornings. We often end up in more esoteric locations, at the quiet, cooler ends of the day, more immersed in the green solitude of the forest and the wildlife that avoids the busier areas. As the days get hotter and longer, we spend more time hunting down these cooler climbing spots and the following are some of the places we have enjoyed the most this summer...
Our climbing destination of this summer. We went once, and haven't really stopped since. Lots of hanging roofs with orange, heavily featured undersides and delicate grey top outs. Not great for very hot days, but shady enough for warm weather. Quite a hefty walk in so will probably never be very busy, a shorter walk from Bas Cuvier parking but a beautiful one from Barbizon. Plus you can pick up pastries from the best bakery in the area (our opinion...) La Galerie des Pain.
All about the tall trees. Huge old oaks and pines provide a shady oasis from scorching summer temperatures. The boulder problems are a bit more friendly to squelchy summer skin, too, with a lot of feature being soft, juggy holds or prominent edges. The orange circuit is a good one, although does feel quite varied in difficulty. The red problems that we have tried feel stiff, on the whole. More work to be done on these in the future...
Mont Aigu and Long Boyau
Deep in the Gorges de Franchard sprawls Mont Aigu. There are yellow, orange and blue circuits that follow each other through the trees. They climb nicely, but fade away about half way through as the lichen starts to reclaim the boulders. Nearby lies a small cluster of very good quality six and seven grade routes, Sector Cosmos; an awesome day's climbing. The whole area is shady, fairly quiet and frictionous AF so great for hot, busy summer weekends. Across the main path from the circuit area also lies Long Boyau, another shady area with a lot of sixes and sevens. We haven't got far in as yet, we tend to get waylaid by the awesomely tough Transformers and Twist and Shout (please approach gently, it has some erosion issues) so we have the rest of Long Boyau to look forwards to.
Cassepot Roches Grises
Tall, pale prows and dumpy, round boulders follow the blue walking trail through the area of Rocher Cassepot forming a climbing area that is quite, tranquil and a bit rambling. Another area that suits warm rather than hot as the climbing is quite friction reliant. The magnificent Double and Triple Axel (7a+/b+) alone make a visit worthwhile, but there is a tonne more to explore and enjoy. Pince Genoux assis (7c) and Bleu Sacré (8b/8a+) are other classic test pieces, although perhaps better saved for a cooler day.
Canche aux Merciers
A little forgotten amongst the main climbing areas, Canche is a total gem. We have spent an ever increasing amount of time here and have yet to tire of it, or even approach running out of boulders to climb. This area literally has something for everyone, although it is a little thin on the 8s. Someone has cleaned up a bunch of easier routes hidden amongst the classic circuits which have some nice lines and fantastic friction. The older circuits are a bit polished in places, but worth squeaking up your toe rubber for as they are magnificent. With a surprising number of shady and north face routes around the outside of Canche and quick-drying exposed boulders in the centre, it makes a great year round venue.