The second of two guidebooks that dropped in my letterbox just before Christmas was Stone Country’s second edition of Essential Fontainebleau. John Watson, the man behind Stone Country, send me a copy of the the first edition of the guide to review in 2008. It was the first truly pocket sized bouldering guide I had ever seen, at A6 (105x148mm) and 172 pages it has more in common with a route guidebook than a pseudo coffee-table format typical of bouldering guides. The compact size appealed to me, I hate lugging a big bag around in Font and it left me room for almond croissants. I have plenty of guides to Font but it’s the only one I have brought on every trip to Font since I got it. So I was very curious to see the second edition and how it differed from the first.
The first most obvious difference is that the second edition is a larger format (128x198mm) but it’s quite a bit thinner. In terms of portability – rather than pocket ability, I don’t think anyone every really boulders with a guide in their pocket anyway, so it’s not really relevant – it’s equivalent to the first edition.
The large pages give more room for bigger, more detailed maps and for more photos per page. As with the first edition the text and directions are spot on. The first edition featured photos of four problems on each page, the stand-out problems of each area, this was great as it fired the imagination and was also very useful for navigation. The only downside was that it wasn’t possible to cover many problems in any particular area as Font is just so extensive. This has been addressed in the second edition and there are a lot more photos, tending towards action shots rather than topo shots.
As great as the bouldering in Font is I don’t think it photographs particularly well, I’m not sure why this is but I have seen a lot more great pictures of say Bishop or Castle Hill then Font. That said there are plenty of good photos in this guide but most could be classified as documentary than artistic but that’s ok as this is a guidebook not a coffee-table book.
In the introduction section there is the usual standard advice on transport, accommodation and grades. The section on ‘Ethics and Rules of Play’ is particularly interesting as it lays out in no uncertain terms how boulderers should behave, for example no shouting, no queue skipping, no pof. All excellent advice.
Another benefit worth mentioning of this guide its price, at £11.99 it is significantly cheaper than all the other Font guides which range between £20 and £30.
I sure that the second edition of this guide will replace the first edition as my ‘go to’ guide for Font. It has all the information I need for a trip.
Buy it from the Stone County website.