Monday, 23 April 2012


Ever since I first started climbing people have raved about some magical woodland place in France. They spoke of tales of huge sandstone boulders littered through a desert in the woods with amazing problems that would most probably last you a life time! I had seen videos of all the top climbers slapping there way up the hardest test pieces in the forest and holding hideous slopers on ridiculously steep terrain and locking the smallest crimpers and firing for that rounded topout!

But I was unconvinced. How could you spend any length of time doing something I consider training for Trad or Sport? How could you persist at something for a whole week which I viewed as a means to and end? 

In the words of Public Enemy "Don't believe the hype" I told myself. 

How wrong could I have been...

Piled into the back of a Ford S-max we began the 10 hours drive to Fontainebleau. I had managed to wangle my way onto the Exeter Uni trip so only knowing my wingman Adam Cooper it was a little nerve racking going abroad for the first time in about 7 years with a load of people I didn't have the foggiest about. I said to myself It'll be fine I'm sure there all totally sound people (maybe a bit boffinish as there from Exeter) but I'm sure they'll be fine. 

Ten hours later myself and Cooper had managed to talk utter crap the whole way there without a pause about the wonders of the Universe in which John Mayer had created and what every single French word meant In English as well as Nigerian. It was safe to say if the guys had coped with us being general idiots the whole way there and not got annoyed, They were the soundest of sound people 100% fact!

I was already having the time of my life and I hadn't even got on the boulders yet... Could it get any better...Hell yes! First stop to Isatis with some great problems and some scary high finishes! Me and Adam disappeared off for the morning finding random problems without the guide book and generally having a laugh. The best moment of the day and something I will probably never let down was a very high problem (no idea on grade possibly 5c-6a?) which I couldn't reach the top on, I complained a bit but still couldn't reach. Along comes some pleasant old dear and flashes it and exclaims what a lovely easy line that was... I turned to Adam as he laughed and manned up and sent

Most days were spent pottering around following crowds in search of some cool lines with a few ticks in mind as well but by the second day I was hungry for a hard send! We ventured into Bas Cuvier know well for some of its harder lines and exciting ones! After bailing the flash on the Le Mary Rose (The first 6a in the forest?) I could sense a high gravity day and my morale was a little dashed. So whats better to try something a whole number grade harder. Around the back is the problem of the Le joker 7a and it was bloody hard! About an hour of efforts and no send until I actually listened to the beta. One of the other guys from Reading said high left foot and rock. Once I did this it actually worked and I did it! Mega Psyche! First 7a in the woods and a pretty cool one to! 

Most days were like this a desperate struggle to warm up followed by a few decent sends in the low 7's and high 6's with plenty of banter and beta going round! Some great places with lots of really decent people including one very German bloke who's every other word was F**king. Probably the first German to have a decent sense of Humour! Me and him sieged Helicopter at Cuvier for most of the afternoon in boiling conditions which apparently makes it a lot harder! Either way It didn't go even though I managed to match the finally jug at least 20 times the swing was horrific but fun none the less! 

Before I knew It, we were downing the tents and backing everything into the van and cars. I had had the most unexpected best week of my life (bit dramatic!) enjoying the climbing but above all the company I think. Such great people, maybe a bit Derpy in places ( you know who :))! I guess to experience the memories and the fun I had I guess you better jump on the next trip. End of the summer who's game, I cant wait a whole year to go back!!!

I'm still sorting through Photos at the moment so when I'v sorted them I'll pop them up on here along with a brief list of some of the problems done!!

Cheers All