Fontainbleau, May 2011

Two reports from this trip, first from Tim followed by Jenny…

For the photo gallery from the trip click here.

The two words that aptly sum up this really successful and enjoyable trip are sunshine and dry rock!

Once again Club members and friends gathered at Grez sur Loing campsite for the annual ‘Font’ trip. I never managed to count everyone due to comings and goings during the 5 day trip with people arriving and leaving on different days but at it’s height there were in the region of 30 attending. The campsite was nice and quiet negating any necessity to queue for the showers and morning departures for the rocks were leisurely. I even managed to lie in until 8 am one morning and didn’t upset other campers making noisy cups of tea as it has been claimed by some that I had done in the past.

Climbing venues included Dames Juanne for the pioneers who arrived a day early, Rocher aux Sabot on Saturday where the Yellow PD+ proved to be challenging with even Kevin finding some hard. On Sunday whilst two went canoeing, there was a mass visit by the others to Desert de Appremont another hard day with a Yellow PD+ which brought about a mutiny from the lesser mortals unable to get up many causing a breakaway group to go exploring through the forest in an unsuccessful search for reputed circuit of ‘normal yellows’. After trudging blindly though dense forest without so much as a sighting of the fabled rocks, the mutineers returned to the higher numbered Rocher aux Sabot problems where, obviously refreshed by their jungle bashing they succeeded in tackling most of the problems until beer o’clock time.

On the walk out back to Barbizon we bumped into Graham Adcock (of the Sandstone Volunteers fame) and a couple of friends heading out for the rocks. The climbing world is indeed small.

18 people attended an evening meal out at the refurbished restaurant at Dames Juanne on Saturday, but the general feeling was that it wasn’t up to it’s former rustic standard with smaller portions served up by smiling waitresses at a much higher price than in previous years. Hillary’s request for a veggie dish resulted in the chef pulling out all stops to create a dish consisting of a couple of slabs of cheese served up on a bed of lettuce.

On Monday there was a mass visit to Elephant where the majority played around on Oranges and Blues, and Tim and John started the Yellow circuit which has now been extended. At lunch time we all congregated on the lower tier for rolls etc and then Jenny suggested heading for Mt Blanc. Before you all start reaching for your atlases I hasten to add that this is a large white sand dune about a kilometer or so from Elephant where there is reputed to be a newly developed outcrop of rocks with an Orange circuit. By this time the temperature was close on 29 degrees and we all set off in the sticky heat to background rumblings of thunder in search of yet another ‘Holy Grail’ of a newly discovered venue.

Well, we couldn’t find the rocks, but a mass ascent was made of Mt Blanc. From here we headed back to re-find the point where John and I had broken off for lunch and after a few had played around on some nearby Oranges everyone (except me) finished the last dozen or so of the Yellows. I have to admit to refusing to go near the penultimate problem due to a swarm of wild bees nesting in a hole next to the start.

The much heralded thunderstorm hit us on Monday night, and we woke up Tuesday morning to rain, but this quickly cleared in time for the drive home.

All in all yet another brilliant trip. Thanks to all who attended and particularly to Jenny for organising it.

Tim

Despite a number of starting hiccups vis. the loss of Jeannie and Miguel from our party, and Tim’s panic over whether his new immense tent would fit inside the campsite, the long weekend in France went very well. A poor weather forecast proved to be correct for England and very wrong for us – glorious sunshine and temperatures of up to about 29’C with only one thunderstorm which sent us shopping to Decathlon. Oh, how we felt sorry for those clinging on at Swanage with cold fingers.

Kevin, Hilary and Simon M made up the advance party and already had one orange route under their belts by the time more of us arrived/slept and got up again on Friday. Nick found the start of a route we had been looking for, for some years, and Jenny, Steve, Nick, Simon C and Lisa introduced Daryl and Luke and club groupies Stacey, Hannah and Ian to the delights of Font bouldering. The Fruits arrived early evening in time for the first of many BBQs. On Saturday the party grew again when we added Tim and John S, David and Frances to our numbers, and knocked off some yellow, orange and blue problems at Rocher aux Sabots, then dined out at the newly renovated Chalet Jobert for Fruit’s birthday. We can report the toilets are much nicer; the portions smaller, but nothing beat the ‘photo of the week’ – the donkey – which had us giggling loudly into the night.

Sunday saw us at the Desert d’Apremont, ‘forcing’ Nick to complete a circuit of hard yellows before he was allowed home for beer and icecream. Team Youth took in the cultural delights of Font chateau whilst Kev/Hilary took to the waves on the river in a canoe. Tim performed his usual excellent route finding, seeking out an ‘easier’ alternative yellow circuit, only to be joined by those of us on the first route as it was in fact one and the same ?! That evening, certain members of our party sloped off to dine at the local restaurant, the ‘Well of Love’, much to the amusement of those left at the BBQ.

No trip is complete without the ascent of L’Elephant, on the last day for some. A fair few got to the summit via various routes, for the routine photo-call. Despite challenging Luke to get up a black route for the incentive of £100 (money was just about safe), it would have been better given to Daryl for rescuing Jenny on a blue when all hand holds vanished and legs went all wobbly. We gave the blue circuit a good run for its money before deciding to find a new spot, Mont Blanc, recommended by Nick. Needless to say he actually left for England at this point. Mt Blanc appeared to be a big pile of sand; no circuit in sight. Continued our rambles with the discovery of orange Rocher de Justice and then the yellow Elephant circuit. Got home just in time to erect the gazebo and hold it down during a storm. Still managed a BBQ, hardy souls as we are.

Tuesday was a good day for nature lovers; we came across 4 snakes all sunbathing at Rocher Canon and gave them a little tickle as they slid down their hole; also spotted were red squirrels, loads of froglets at camp and a couple of woodpeckers. Disappointingly we didn’t spot a Troglodyte on Wednesday in the forest behind Nemours but found a newly painted orange route near the Grotte de Troglodyte which requires further investigation next year, plus a nice rock like a dinosaur. Then got lost trying to get out of the woods, resulting in a last minute high speed de-camping exercise and race to the ferry port for all the last participants. Nothing like ending a holiday by meeting your boss on the ferry, to make you think about work!

An excellent trip enjoyed by all participants new and returned; needless to say the Franchard pitch at camp is booked again for next year – a double bonus with 2 Bank Holidays (4-5 June ’12) – hooray for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we can stay longer at Font!

Jenny

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