Back in the Woods – Bouldering in Fontainebleau

I love bouldering at Fontainebleau.  There are so many wonderful things about it.  All those boulders scattered through a pretty wood.  A stunning amount of climbing, in a wide variety of forms and often on boulders that weird, beautiful or both.   The different characters of the climbing areas.  The feeling of community among the climbers.   The inland beaches that make for good landings and nice places to have a picnic.   That it’s a giant, wooded playground for kids (more about that in my next post).

Fontainebleau’s not somewhere I get the chance to go very often and I always leave wanting to go back.

My Climbing 2015 in Pictures

Fontainetoddler

Leo climbing a boulder at Rocher des Potets, Fontainebleau.
Leo climbing a boulder at Rocher des Potets, Fontainebleau.

As first-time parents, Valerie and I have had to work out as we go along how to continue to rock climb while also being Mum and Dad to Leo. Last year we had a fun and successful trip to the legendary bouldering venue of Fontainebleau with a teething baby. This year we went back with an energetic (and teething) toddler. Here’s what we learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Read more

Mostly Yellow in Fontainebleau

Me climbing problem orange 12 at Buthiers Piscine in the forests of Fontainebleau.
Me climbing problem orange 12 at Buthiers Piscine in the forests of Fontainebleau.

If it were not for bad customer service, I wouldn’t have been bouldering at Fontainebleau this week. On my first trip to Fontainebleau a year ago I tore the meniscus in my right knee while pulling hard on a heel hook. Since surgery on the knee, I’ve been trying to get back into climbing in a way that is slow, gentle and careful enough to avoid injury. Bouldering outside on boulders that often have sloping holds and rounded top-outs wasn’t necessarily what I would have picked as my reintroduction to climbing on real rock. However, I’d really enjoyed bouldering at Fontainebleau and I had a free Channel Tunnel ticket that expired at the end of June. This ticket was by way of apology from Eurotunnel for a four-hour delay to the train taking me to France on that first Fontainebleau trip and for failing to even reply to my initial complaints. That ticket was a good excuse to go. Read more

One Year On

It has been one year since my injury. One year since I tore a part of my knee using a heel hook while bouldering. One year in which I made my injury worse and in which I’ve been trying to recover so that I can climb again.

In retrospect, this was a bad idea.
In retrospect, this was a bad idea.

I was unlucky, uninformed and an idiot. It was near the end of our second day of my first bouldering trip to Fontainebleau and I was with a group climbing just a few more problems before it got too dark and late. Some of the group had climbed this tricky problem up the flat front of a split boulder and I wanted to do it too. It was different, a challenge and looked fun. This was partly because completing the problem required a right heel hook and I don’t do heel hooks often. Climbing in the lower grades means that I either don’t need to do them that much or can get away with using different moves. But I wanted to try them now because I want to make the most of my time in the legendary Fontainebleau forest and wanted to do this climb. Read more

My Climbing 2014 in Pictures

Fontainebaby

Behind you

An Easter break to the woods of Fontainebleau to climb on its famous sandstone boulders was our first real test as rock climbing parents. We had been taking our baby son, Leo, to the climbing wall on a regular basis and to some artificial boulders not far from where we live in London. He’d enjoyed the trips and we had managed to get a good amount of climbing done. But several days of outdoors climbing in a foreign country, with a teething seven-month old baby, felt like more of a challenge. By the end of the trip we had enjoyed some great climbing, been tested as parents and learnt a lot about taking a baby climbing at Fontainebleau. Read more

Font First Timer

Valerie climbing problem number 1 at Rocher des Potets.
Valerie climbing problem number 1 on the orange circuit at Rocher des Potets.

Sometimes places live up to the hype and Fontainebleau is one of those. The thousands of boulders in the vast woods are legendary among rock climbers. Fontainebleau is regularly described as a magical place, with the purest, most engaging climbing. Now that I’ve been there for the first time, I agree how brilliant and fun bouldering at Font can be. Read more