I’m been home from my trip to Fontainebleau for just over a week now. It’s only in the last few days that I have felt fully recovered. The only lingering effects at this stage are slightly sore wrists and really good skin on my finger tips.
We had four full days in Font, the weather was really nice, if a little warm. Sunny, t-shirt weather, maybe 18 degrees during the afternoon. Not ideal conditions for hard climbing but perfect weather for hanging around.
Having not bouldered much I wasn’t very focussed on trying to tick any hard problems – never am in Font, too much good easy stuff – so the plan was to do as many easier problems as possible, lots of blues and maybe a few of the easier reds.
My training for the trip was less than ideal as I was very busy finishing the book and had done very little bouldering since last winter. So all I got to do in advance was pullups, a small bit of fingerboarding and a few sessions on my board and at Gravity. I tried where possible to do something every day, even if it was just a few pullups or a few easy problems on the board. This was to build up a bit of endurance as I knew that as we were only in Font for 4 days a rest day wasn’t an option.
I made one major mistake in training – I did too much the week before the trip and the day before the trip my elbows were quite sore. I reckon a good week off is what I needed to be fully rested getting on the plane.
It was only really on the last day of the trip that my elbows got really sore, which was good. The main problem I experienced was with my skin, I had noted on my visits to Gravity that my skin seemed very sweaty, it wasn’t taking chalk that well, and I was chalking up much more than usual. I put this down to the cheap chalk I had been using and emptied it out of my chalk bag and replaced it with Black Diamond White Gold – the best chalk in my opinion. But the chalk wasn’t to blame for whatever reason, I suspect because I haven’t been climbing much on rock, my skin was very greasy.
This combined with the relatively high temperatures meant that I was greasing off a lot of holds. On the evenings I applied some Anti-Hydral cream but my skin was so seepy that it didn’t even dry so probably didn’t help much.
Climbing at the level I did I felt that endurance was key to getting the most out of the trip. If you climb a lot (almost everyday, even if it’s just a few pullups or some easy soloing) for the month before the trip, and wear comfy shoes you stand a good chance to getting as much done on the first day as the last.
I brought my usual Five Ten Mocs which are very soft comfortable shoes and a reasonably roomy fit but in spite of this my feet got sore after a day or two, fortunately I had brought a pair of Five Ten Spire along, they are a really comfy (foot shaped!) shoe. I was planning to use these on the really easy stuff but found that once I got used to them they were just as effective as the Mocs.
In terms of movement and holds most of the climbing I did was low angled, you just don’t get many overhanging blues. There were a lot of sloping hand holds and lots of tiny edges – grattons – for the feet. The polish is as bad as ever, those tiny edges are tricky enough at the best of times but in the more popular areas they were like glass. In a way I think it’s hard to prepare for Font by climbing on granite as the friction is just so different, everything will feel so tenuous and slippery in Font after time on nice, rough granite. Your skin would be good though.
One interesting aspect of the trip was visiting some new areas, I’ve been to Font maybe a dozen times, but there are still plenty of areas I haven’t been to. We climbed at Bois Rond (very nice), Drei Zennan (pretty decent), Rocher Guichot (looked good, very close to the car), JA Martin (hot great, very spread out) and Potola (few interesting looking things).