Fontainebleau

The prospect of a forest full of boulders to climb would be a climbers dream. However, for the 3FY, it was actually quite daunting.

I’m not going to pretend I’m the bees knees at climbing, I’m not. But I can probably do more than a complete newbie. At least I hope considering I have been doing it on and off for 2 years now!

Before I went on my little adventure to Font (as everyone seems to call it) they all warned me:

‘You’re going to have to learn how to climb again’

‘You’ll get knocked down’

‘Don’t think about the grade, take the grade out of it’

I can safely say, after my trip they were definitely not wrong!! From someone who doesn’t climb or boulder as frequently as they should, it was hard. Plain and simple. Hard.

At one particular area, you walk through trees, soft mud underfoot, the rustle of leaves and smell of fresh bread in your backpack (or wedged in your pad, or sticking out the zip as you walk along with your pack strapped to your front, baton under your nose) then out of nowhere come a crop of boulders. You walk further into them and they multiply, mud turns to sand and the change is surreal.

It’s like this with a lot of the areas. The boulders just appear. The only change are the amount of trees and the difficulty of the climbs. Some areas are more in the forest than others, some more out in the open, atop hills, getting full sun. Far too warm for climbing in heat.

The climbs themselves were extremely frustrating. Some were super easy and you flew up. Then you realised how low the grade was, of course it was easy. Oh yes, take grade out of it. Then others were so hard you nearly gave up climbing altogether, but it’s only a 4 you say. Oh yes, take grade out of it.

You’ll even get stuck on top of a few boulders. Once topping out, if there isn’t an easy walk back down and you aren’t too sure on jumping, you’ll get stuck.

I did.

I nearly cried.

I was 2 metres up.

For about 10 minutes I refused to jump.

I got down by shimmying on my belly while my partner placed my feet on good holds.

Another girl climbed a boulder 3/4 metres high. She had to jump. I don’t know how long it took her to pluck up the courage. I’d wandered off by the time she got down, I’m hoping with the help of her friends.

There were tears and tantrums. Frustrations and annoyance. Sun and rain. Achievements and accomplishments. Laughter and drink (lots and lots of drink)

We were just coming to terms with the style of climbing in Font, then it was time to come home. A week was enough for our pink tipped fingers but it wasn’t enough to understand the climbing and really get into it.

I learned to smear, to really smear! I learned to trust my feet a bit more and I learned that people freely take ‘wild poo’s’ (I’m sorry but I am not joining that elite group)

And looking back on the trip, I think it really did make me a better boulderer. Ok so the first time back indoors was absolutely hideous but I wasn’t alone in feeling that. But I’ve noticed that I have improved, just a little bit.

So if you ever take a trip to lovely Fontainebleau, remember:

‘You’re going to have to learn how to climb again’

‘You’ll get knocked down’

‘Don’t think about the grade, take the grade out of it’

But most of all just go and have fun, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the place, the people you’ll meet, the food and especially the drink!

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