when who area prob grade name
12/03 Sa St 95.2 b16 5B
Sa St 95.2 b18 3C
Sa St 95.2 b19 4C*
Sa St 95.2 b20 4B
Sa St 95.2 b21 3C
Sa St 95.2 b22 3B
Sa St 95.2 b23 4B
Sa St 95.2 b24 4B
Sa St 95.2 b25 4A
Sa St 95.2 b26 3C
Sa St 95.2 b27 4A
Sa St 95.2 b28 4C
Sa St 95.2 b29 4B
Sa St 95.2 b30 3C
Sa St 95.2 b31 3C
Sa St 95.2 b32 4B
Sa St 95.2 b33 4B
Sa St 95.2 b34 4C* L'Ectoplasme
Sa St 95.2 b35 5A
Sa St 95.2 b36 3C
Sa St 95.2 b37 3B
Sa St 95.2 b38 5A
Sa St 95.2 r37 5A*
13/03 Sa St 95.2 b1 4B
Sa St 95.2 b2 4B
Sa St 95.2 b3 4C
Sa St 95.2 b4 3C
Sa St 95.2 b5 4C
St 95.2 b6 4C
Sa St 95.2 b7 3B
Sa St 95.2 b8 5A*
Sa St 95.2 b10 4B
Sa St 95.2 b11 3C
Sa St 95.2 b12 4B
Sa St 95.2 b13 4C*
Sa St 95.2 b15 4B
Sa St 95.2 b17 4B
Sa St 95.2 r28 5A*
That kind of concludes the 95.2 blue circuit. We skipped number 9 as we could't quite work out the intended line, and number 14, a pointless 3 over a poor landing. Sarah declined number 6 as the crux was a massive span over a poor landing. We intended this to be our 'warm-up' circuit for this trip, but it was actually top quality. We also did two very nice problems from the red circuit as recommended by Will - will go back and try to do the whole thing. I had a couple of goes on red 47, but took the long fall twice from the top mantle. Awesome problem though - an unfeasibly long reach from a shitty one-handed undercut, and a slopey, swimming finish. Quintessential Font.
15/03 Sa St 95.2 r1 4A
Sa St 95.2 r2 4B
Sa St 95.2 r3 4C
Sa St 95.2 r4 4B
Sa St 95.2 r5 4C
Sa St 95.2 r6 4C
Sa St 95.2 r7 4B
Sa St 95.2 r1 4C
Sa St 95.2 r11 5B*
Sa St 95.2 r12 4B
Sa St 95.2 r13 4C
Sa St 95.2 r14 4B
Sa St 95.2 r15 4C*
Sa St 95.2 r16 5A
Sa St 95.2 w11 5C*
Sa St 95.2 w12 5C*
Sa St 95.2 w13 5B
Sa St 95.2 w15 5A
Sa St 95.2 w16 5B
Glorious sunshine day! Started on the reds, and with a few whites that took our fancy thrown in for good measure. We didn't manage to locate problems 8 and 9. Pick of the bunch probably red 11 with some good sloper slapping, and white 12, an infuriatingly technical slab. We're starting to know 95.2 now, probably one more day and then move on somewhere else.
16/03 Sa St 95.2 b17 4B
Sa St 95.2 b16 5B
Sa St 95.2 r17 5C*
Sa 95.2 w7 6A
Sa St 95.2 b16 5B
Sa St 95.2 w8b 6B+* La p'tit toit
St 95.2 r20 4C
Sa St 95.2 r23 5A
Sa St 95.2 w3 5C
St 95.2 w30 6A*
St 95.2 w31 5C
We were climbing tops off - very pleasant and sunny, car thermometer on +15C. Set about trying to finish the reds, but got distracted by the overhanging prow of off-circuit "La P'tit Toit", a traverse on slopers to a hard top-out. We'd seen a French team on it yesterday, failing miserably. We both got it, much to our own surprise. Some of the reds have been lost to the erosion cordons, and some of the remainders looked overgrown and with iffy landings - we carried on with the whites instead. It seems like most people just hover up on the top of the hill and ignore the boulders lower down. Had a couple of goes on "Le Kilo de Beurre", white 1. Need considerably bigger balls before committing to that top-out; proper high-ball. Feeling royally trashed.
18/03 Sa St BoisR o14 3A
Sa St BoisR o15 3A
Sa St BoisR b12 4C
Sa St BoisR b15 4B
Sa St BoisR r22 6A* Le meilleur des mondes
St BoisR r23 6A+* La theorie des nuages
Bois Rond - after some easy warm-ups, Sarah had her mind on "Le meilleur des mondes" which she'd not quite managed last time we were here. A fine problem indeed. This time she dispatched it without too much trouble. We then moved around the boulder to the overhang of "La theorie des nuages" which had had the better of me last September. It took some working to find the right sequence, but eventually it fell. Sarah came very close, to her credit - not her usual favoured style of problem. She'll have it on the next visit. We then tried our hands (and feet) at the technical wall of "Little Shakespeare" which proved too hard, although Sarah came close.
19/03 Sa St BoisR b2 5C*
Sa St BoisR b9 5A
Sa St BoisR b11 4B
Sa St BoisR b21 4C
St BoisR b30 5A
St BoisR b31 5B
Sa BoisR r7 6A* Little Shakespeare
Sa St BoisR r10 5C* Objectif grand angle
Sa St BoisR r21 5B
Second day on at Bois Rond, and Sarah had a very good day. Impressively, she finished "La theorie des nuages" on her fifth go, pulling through the sloping finish. She also tip-toed her way up the technical "Little Shakespeare" right at the end. I spent most of the day failing on "Constellation des Amoureux" making precious little progress. It was 19 degrees when we left the camp site in the morning, and just as we came back in the afternoon it started raining. Good job tomorrow is a rest day. Grades at Bois Rond felt very.. traditional. Current thinking is to head for Isatis next.
21/03 Sa St Isatis b9 5A
Sa St Isatis r17 5A
Sa St Isatis b18 4C
St Isatis w4 6C* Composition des Forces
St Isatis w10 6A Le Statique
Sa St Isatis w16 6B+* Buerre Marga
Sa Isatis w18 6B La Zip Zut
Sa St Isatis oc11a 6C* Little Karma
Franchard Isatis, top quality just outside the car. It was touch and go if we'd be able to climb given how heavy it'd been raining during the day and night (fortunately on a scheduled rest day), but the rock was dry. I'd not been able to touch "Little Karma" last year, but this time it went, second go, albeit with a somewhat undignified belly-flop finish. Very pleased with that. Sarah had her eyes on the most excellent, but deceptively tricky, "Buerre Marga" (still a sandbag at 6B+), which at first proved stubborn, but when she finally managed to work out the starting moves it went smoothly. I repeated it - with difficulty - for good measure. It really is great. We finished on "Composition des Forces", a recommendation from Will. To my own surprise, it went second go, and Sarah came exceedingly close - one for next visit. Another very good route, and for me, the best day so far.
22/03 Sa St Isatis b4 3C
Sa St Isatis r11 4B
Sa St Isatis r4 4C
Sa St Isatis r5 5A
Sa St Isatis r7 4C
St Isatis w8 6A
Sa Isatis w4 6C* Composition des Forces
St Isatis oc 6C+* Surplomb de la Coquille
St Isatis w19 6B* L'Envie des Betes
St Isatis r15 5A
More Isatis, and the sun's back in force. Sarah easily traipsed up "Composition Des Forces" first go, after which we went to seek out "Surplomb de la Coquille". Steep, and as it turned out - hard. In fact, it felt utterly impossible to start out with, but gradually the moves slotted into place, and after countless goes I managed to pull over. Sarah got most of the moves wired. Feeling rather spent, we had lunch and then ambled back down to find another of Will's recommendations, the undercut marbled wall and prow of "L'Envie des Betes". Technical, slappy and strong, this proved hard-won, especially for tired arms. In fact, every single move felt hard. Again, Sarah worked out how to do each move, but lacking a few inches every move of mine turned into three for her. She will undoubtedly finish it at a later visit. We seem to have taken a step up in terms of grades, which is always pleasing. Sarah considers "Buerre Marga" to be the highlight of the last two days, and for me it's probably "La Coquille", given how hard I had to work for it. Isatis is an amazing venue.
24/03 Sa St Isatis b1 3B
Sa St Isatis b6 3C
Sa St Isatis r1 4C
Sa St Isatis r3 5B
Sa St Isatis w1 6B* L'amoche doigt
St Isatis w40 6B* L'angle de serac
Sarah wanted another stab at "L'envie des Betes" and I had planned to try the arete of W40 and perhaps a wee look at "El Poussif", for me a major challenge at 7A+. We ended up on w1, "L'amoche doigt", an innocuous-looking slabby arete that turned out to be a matter of inches. I could reach the crucial hold, but Sarah could not, at least not using the sequence I used. It was unlocked for her by a local Bleausard who demonstrated a tiny change in foot placement, and it all went. We then went back to "L'envie des Betes", but the crux go-again move still eluded her. Some lunch, and we wandered up to the rather shapely arete of white 40. Time for the Katanas for this one - not much in terms of foot holds. It took a while to unlock the sequence, as usual for aretes. Balance is it. Eventually it came together with a long, insecure stretch for the top. Sarah tried the same sequence, and got desperately close; so close, in fact that her spotter had already started the top-out celebrations when she grabbed the top jugs - and peeled off. As did the skin on her fingers. Will had recommended a look at "El Poussif" and we chatted to a couple of Brits who'd eventually managed to crack it. I had a couple of goes, but this really felt beyond me in every way, at least trying their beta. I might come back later on and try a different method.
26/03 Sa St Sabots b24 4C
Sa St Sabots b25 3C
St Sabots r19 6A+ Les joyeuses de Noel
(rain stops play)
Rained off yesterday, and dodging showers today. The showers arrived with us in the morning, and turned into a proper downpour by lunch, when we gave up hiding under a surplomb. We went home, had lunch waiting for it to stop, which it did. We waited some more for things to dry out and headed back, and we managed three warm-ups before it started again. Disappointing, but our first day lost to rain for two weeks which by anyone's standards isn't bad going. Roche aux Sabots is another excellent venue, and the home for one of my main objectives for this trip, "Graviton", which I failed on last September. A lot. We also have a long list of recommendations from Will that we are itching to have a go at, as soon as it dries out.
27/03 Sa St Sabots b37 4A
Sa St Sabots b38 3C
Sa Sabots b36 4B*
Sa St Sabots r1 6A* Les saute-montagnes
Sa St Sabots r4 5B* Dalle de Cristal
Sa Sabots r19 6A+ Les joyeuses de Noel
Sa St Sabots r26 5A Le gout du jour
St Sabots r9 5B Little Crack
29/03 Sa St Sabots b37 4A
Sa St Sabots b38 3C
Sa Sabots b36 4B*
Sa St Sabots r3 6A* Le surplomb a coulisse
St Sabots oc33c 7A* Graviton
St Sabots oc33b 7A Gravillon
30/03 Sa St Sabots r7 4C* Le mur badaboum
Sa St Sabots r6 5C* Le porte a faux
(rain stops play)
31/03 Sa St Sabots b30 3B
Sa St Sabots b28 3C
Sa St Sabots r30 5B* La barquette de beurre
Sa St Sabots r27 5C* Crosse en l'air
St Sabots r28 6A+* Servis compris
Due to the weather, our schedule has gone to pot, but we've persisted between showers. We worked and, based on the original beta, failed miserably on Graviton. A bunch of Norwegians showed us a different method (wild heel hook up right) which finally saw me top out, which was one of my most coveted objectives of the trip. Sarah came exceedingly close and will carry on as soon as the weather will allow. I also took advantage of the number of pads and spotters about to do "Gravillon". On Sarah's birthday we resorted to covering the route with a tarp to protect it from the rain, but in the end we just had to concede defeat. We also spent some time on "l'angle de Jean-Luc", which feels super technical and hard - it's currently winning. 6B is laughably off the mark. We saw one of the Norwegians (Robert) cruise it effortlessly - twice, as it were, following Will's beta to the letter. We still couldn't do it. One of the French guys working it with us had been trying (and failing) it for 10 years solid, he claimed. Sarah's getting closer though. I spent (too much) time working "Jet Set", but getting absolutely nowhere from the take-off. I then tried the similar, but more amenable "Servis Compris" immediately to the left, which has roughly the same air miles, but off a better left-hand hold. I failed on that for a long time, too, until I eventually latched it. Apparently, not very good at dynos. There are some very good problems on the red circuit here, and trying to do reds 1, 2, 3 and 4 in succession is a bit of a shock to the system.
02/04 Sa St Sabots b2 4B
Sa St Sabots b3 4B
Sa St Sabots b4 4B
Sa St Sabots b5 4A
Sa St Sabots b6 4C
Sa St Sabots b7 4A
Sa St Sabots b8 3B
Sa St Sabots b9 4B
03/04 Sa St Sabots b10 3C
Sa St Sabots b11 3B
Sa St Sabots b13 3B
Sa St Sabots b14 4A
Sa St Sabots b15 4A
Sa St Sabots oc17b 6B* L'Inversee Satanique
Sa St Sabots oc17b 6C+* L'Inversee Satanique Directe
Sa St Sabots r29 6B* Le mur a Michaud
Sa Sabots oc33c 7A* Graviton
Sa Sabots oc33b 7A Gravillon
Another soaked day saw us abandoning play after a few easy, but nice, blue warm-up problems. The day after we met up with some guys from Bristol here for the Easter bank hol, and for a while it looked like the rain would come in again, but we ended up having a fab day, culminating with Sarah cruising "Graviton" first go, and then doing the same to "Gravillon", thus achieving her stated goal for the year - twice over - to boulder V6/Fb7A. There always seems to be a great party atmosphere around "Graviton" and "Smash", the big 7B dyno opposite, with lots of pads and willing spotters from all around the world. I carried on my to date fruitless work on "Jet Set", and came close on "Jeux de Toit" (7A+) after some useful beta from Jim. One to come back for with fresher arms. "Le mur a Michaud" (red 29) is a very nice problem.
04/04 Sa St Isatis b7 3C
Sa St Isatis r1 5A
Sa St Isatis r1 5A
Sa St Isatis r1 5B
St Isatis w1 6B* L'Envie des Betes
Sa Isatis r1 5A
St Isatis w4 6B* L'Angle de Serac
Sa St Chien b48 4B
Sa St Chien b49 3C
Sa St Chien b50 4B
Sa St Chien r2 ?
St Chien r3 ?
Sa St Chien r9 ?
St Chien r10 ?*
Sa St Chien r20 ?
Rained off at Isatis, but sat it out and drove over to Cul de Chien and ended up having a fantastic afternoon in the sun. Great sport was had on red problem 10, a sort of mini-Graviton with countless comedy falls from the top by the whole group. Before walking back, we attempted the great roof, but no one managed to do the crux. But what a route..
05/04 Sa St Cuis r1 4B
Sa St Cuis r2 4C
Sa St Cuis w3 4C
Sa Cuis w3b 5A*
Sa Cuis w45 4C
Sa St Cuis oc35a 6C*
Glorious blues, finally, and although tired after some three and a half days on, we couldn't not climb. Cuisiniere was the aim of the day, and an amazing playground it is, too. We started easy but soon got distracted onto a bis-version of white 3 - an innocuous-looking short slab of amenable grade. This is of course usually a big, red warning sign to steer well clear.. I couldn't touch it, but Sarah eventually managed to work it out and tip-toed her way to the top. One of the unique things with the forest - 7A one day, utterly humbled on a 5A warm-up slab on the next. We went looking for a problem called "Impasse du Hazard", but it turned out to be aptly named, and we declined to try it. Ian suggested a go on a 7B he'd done previously, "Pensees Cachees", which turned out to be a steep, undercut arete - butch stuff. We worked it for a good while, but never really got very far, and by now my arms were starting to ache rather worryingly. One of the problems both Sarah and I wanted a re-match with since the last trip was a nameless 6C on boulder 35 - a top-out swim on slopers that we'd got nowhere with before. This time we both made short work of it, and it felt like a tangible token of progress in our climbing. The rest of the day we worked various sit-starts to nearby problems but all of us were tired in arms, and worryingly thin-skinned on the finger tips. We retreated to a bar in Milly to say farewell to the Bristol boys and to celebrate a good couple of days of bouldering.
07/04 Sa St Cuvier b22 5B La Fissure
Sa St Cuvier b40 5B
Sa St Cuvier r21 6A* La Nescafe
Sa St Cuvier r22 6A* La Marie Rose
Sa St Cuvier r38 5C La Bicolore
Sa St Cuvier r25 5C L'Angle Rond
St Cuvier r39 5C La Clavicule
St Cuvier r24 5C* La Troisieme Arete
Rain overnight, and a wet morning saw us leave late for Bas Cuvier. Hot and humid. We both repeated first go both "Nescafe" and "Marie Rose", which had taken persistent work on the last trip. Will had warned us that the arete of red 24, to the left of "The Joker", would feel hard for the grade, and he was not wrong. Perhaps the grade would be appropriate if you're 6ft+, but for me it took an all-out jump to reach the crucial bulge, and for Sarah even this was not possible. I think that 6B is more realistic if you can reach with a jump, and more like 7A if you actually have to climb the blank middle section on nothings. Sarah had a rather frustrating time on it, but arrived at a plausible method for a future return. We then moved onto "Duroxmanie", a 6C+ towards the Rempart area that I'd got nowhere on on the last trip. It's a high, slightly overhanging patina shield on crimps and pinches to a slopey finish. I managed to do the whole problem to a point where I had both hands on the top, just needing to mantle it out, but pumped out and took the long fall. Twice. Hopefully it'll go next time. Sarah surprised both of us by cranking through all the strong-arm moves - a few more attempts and she'll get what would be a very credible tick.
09/04 Sa St Cuvier b8 4A La Poulet
Sa Cuvier r8 5C La Vire Authenac
Sa St Cuvier r7 5C* Les Frites
Sa Cuvier r24 5C* La Troisieme Arete
St Rempart oc8c 6C+* Duroxmanie
10/04 Sa St Sabots b40 4C
Sa St Sabots b41 3C
Sa Sabots r8 5B Beuf en Daube
Sa Sabots r9 5B Little Crack
Back to Cuvier, and I had my mind set on finishing off "Duroxmanie". Glorious day again to boot. We started on some 'easy' reds and blues - "Les Frites" in particular felt hopeless until a local Bleausard in typical style sauntered up it showing us how it's done. Easy when you know how. Gotta love Font. Sarah also did the neighbouring slab, equally cryptic, after which we went back for her to have a go at finishing off "La Troisieme Arete" that had eluded her the other day. She staticked it with an improbable sequence - at least 7A.. and so we wandered over to Rempart for another bash at "Duroxmanie". A crowd of Brit students were gathered there already, and it was a positive vibe - we sat down for a while and watched, and had some lunch. I felt strong as I pulled on, and it went without a hitch, first go. Very pleased with the tick. Sarah's turn, and she linked all moves to the top, but with arms too tired to commit to the top-out mantle. Definitely next time. We ambled back to the main area to have a look at "Cortomaltese", "Charcuterie" and a few others, but it was warm, and slopers slimey, so nothing was succeeded on, and everything felt hard. The following day we were supposed to meet up with Annabelle and John on their way back from a bolt-clipping trip down south, so we'd agreed to meet at Sabots, as it's convenient access from the motorway. Unfortunately, they called around lunch time saying their car had been broken into, so they wouldn't make it. I was feeling rather worse for wear, with every tendon in my arms and shoulders aching so I wasn't really climbing. Sarah carried on her work on "L'Angle a Jean-Luc", but no topping out yet.
11/04 Sa St Sabots b39 3C
Sa St Sabots b42 4A
Sa St Sabots b43 4A
Sa St Sabots b44 4A
Sa St Sabots b45 4C
Sa St Sabots b46 4B
Sa St Sabots b35 3C
Sa St Sabots b31 3B
Sa St Sabots b34 4A
Sa St Sabots b33 4B
Sa St Sabots b27 4C*
Mileage day at Sabots, trying to finish off the blue circuit on our third day on. Some real gems here, especially number 27 which felt high and scary especially for Sarah with a long stretch for the less than ideal top holds.
13/04 Sa St Cuvier o50 3C* La Prestat
Sa St Cuvier r29 5B* Le Reveil Matin
(Rain stops play)
The plan was to warm up, and then head up to Rempart for Sarah to do "Duroxmanie". Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, and after the classic highball of "La Prestat" and a neighbouring challenging red, we had to head for the car. We had a look at "La Stalingrad" next to "La Prestat", which Will had suggested with a wry "..if you have the balls.". We clearly don't. Proper Bishop territory.
14/04 Sa S Isatis r23 4C
Sa St Isatis r24 5B
Sa St Isatis r25 4B
Sa St Isatis r27 4C
Sa St Isatis r28 5C
Sa St Isatis w40 6B* L'Angle de Serac
St Isatis oc51a 7A+* L'Angle Ben's
Sa St Isatis r33 5B
Sa St Isatis r32 5A
Sa Isatis r31 5B
Sa St Isatis r30 5B
Main task of the day was for Sarah to finish off her work on "L'Angle de Serac" which she'd got rained off the other day. Whilst warming up we ran into Paul and Beccy, a couple of climbers we know from Bristol. Sarah ticked off her project first go, and mostly for a laugh we shifted our attentions to the significantly harder right-hand side of the same arete, known as "L'Angle Ben's", weighing in at 7A+. The wall is so blank it looks like a slab of marble. With Paul, me and Sarah all working it we started to make some progress, and I finally managed to latch the top, with Paul soon after. Sarah was again to her frustration unable to use the same sequence, as she couldn't reach the crucial hold from the foot placements that me and Paul had used. She's working a different sequence and will be back for another bout before long.
15/04 Sa St Cuvier b1 5A Les Sans les Mains
Sa St Cuvier b2 4C
Sa St Cuvier b3 5A Le Surplomb Nord Ouest
Sa St Cuvier r2 5C La Goulotte Sans la Goulotte
Sa Rempart oc8c 6C+* Duroxmanie
Sa St Rempart oc18a 5C* L'Angle Allain
Sa St Rempart oc18a 6A* L'Angle Allain (left)
Sa St Rempart oc18b 7A* Laser
Sa St Cuvier r4 6A* Le Trou du Simon
Awesome day in the forest for Sarah - "Duroxmanie" falls first go, as does her old bugbear "L'Angle Allain", both left and right, and a quick dispatch of the technical 7A wall of "Laser" to the left. My dispatch of the same wall was somewhat less quick.. We then walked back to the car, did a team ascent of the magnificent party trick "Le Trou du Simon" and drove home via to Sabots as Sarah was "in tune with her balance" - maybe "Jean-Luc" would go too? She held the finishing rail and was about to move up, but her foot gave. Heartbreakingly close to ticking three projects in one day - but she goes home with another seventh grade route to her name, and a very credible tick in "Duroxmanie".
16/0 Sa St Aprmnt r34 5C* Le Science Friction
St Aprmnt bw10 6C La Lune (left)
St Aprmnt r8 5B Le Triste Portique
St Aprmnt s15 5A
St Aprmnt oc22c 6C (Zone B)
We met up with Paul and Beccy again, this time at Apremont where we'd never been before. The classic, and elegantly named "Le Science Friction" slab problem is the traditional start here, and every Font climber owes it to themselves to do it - it's a great introduction to the Art of Footwork. Sadly, Sarah managed to split an already sore finger tip on her successful attempt, which stopped play for her after the first route. Apremont is a big, sprawling maze of jumbled boulders. There's clearly a lot of potential here, but simply learning to navigate the place is a task in itself. Paul and I had a few token goes on the slab-dyno of "Medaille en Chocolate", but it was full on in the sun, and neither of us got anywhere at all on it.
18/04 Sa St PBois b20 4A Pour les Mains
Sa St PBois b21 4B Blockage
Sa St PBois b21b 4A Des blockages
Sa St PBois b22 4A Derapage
Sa St PBois r11 ?
Sa St PBois bl9 6A Remise a alure
Sa St FSabl r1 5C l'accroche doigt
Sa St FSabl r2 5B la reticence
Sa St FSabl r3 5B le passe plat
Sa St FSabl r4 5B la promptitude
Sa St FSabl r5 5C* la derobade
Sa St FSabl r6 5C morsure aux doigts
Sa St FSabl r7 5C* les racines
Sa St FSabl r8 5B* saccage au burin
Sa St FSabl r9 5B les chien assis
St FSabl r10 5B* l'arete de poisson
One problem on my list was "La Baleine" at Petit Bois. From pictures it looks stunning, and Will had heartily recommended it. Petit Bois is a little bit out of our way, and the trip was made worse by the fact that due to a loca bike race the most convenient roads were closed off, and we found ourselves being diverted around in circles. At Petit Bois we warmed up, and I had about a dozen goes on "La Baleine" - it truly is an amazing problem, but sadly it wasn't to be. I got to a matched position on the rail on the lip, but unable to find it in me to stick the slap for the top holds. Sarah declined to attempt it. Also had a look at "Big Jim", but after my beasting on "La Baleine", I didn't really fancy a highball number with the crux at the top. Petit Bois isn't a very popular crag, and as a result it's still a bit green from the winter. We decided to head back towards Franchard. Being a sunny spring weekend, the main crags would be heaving, but Paul and Beccy had recommended the red circuit at Franchard Sablons, the less popular neighbour of Isatis. We barely managed to find a parking space, yet Sablons was pretty much deserted, and we set about the red circuit, which in our guide has only 20 problems on it, primarily in the fifth grade. We did the first 10, and it's a very well balanced circuit, certainly no pushover. If you think the fifth grade is below you, you should have a go at doing this circuit - ego-bruising guaranteed.
19/04 Sa St FSabl r11 5B la traversee
Sa St FSabl r12 5A le nez
Sa St FSabl r13 4C l'accalmie
Sa St FSabl r14 4B mise en train
Sa St FSabl r15 5A coup de cannon
Sa St FSabl r16 6A* la dalle a clemont
Sa St FSabl r18 4A la dalle bleue
Sa FSabl r19 5C prise de tete
Sa St FSabl r20 6A* dalle funerarie
St FSabl oc28a 7A sale affaire
We carried on with the remainder of the red circuit, the latter half being more delicate and technical than the former. Ran into Neil of Maison Bleau fame, who was out furthering his quest of filming himself on every dyno in Font 7A or harder. He pointed us at a near-by boulder housing the problem "Sale Affaire" which he suggested might be 7A, rather than the 6B suggested by the guide, and a 7B. Sarah and I set about trying these with Neil offering beta advise and a strong pair of spotter's hands. "Sale Affaire" is a very nice problem, requiring some surprisingly subtle technique for something so powerful. From not really being able to even get my feet off the ground, I before long found myself at the top, using Neil's helpful beta. Sarah (perhaps to her own surprise, given the style of the problem) successfully managed to do it in two halves, but failed to link the whole thing. It will go next time. Although Franchard Sablons clearly isn't an "in" crag, it's awesome - pristine rock, solitude and although perhaps not the spread of classics like its famous neighbour, there are clearly enough test pieces for the intrepid forest explorer to seek out.
21/04 Sa St Isatis r26 4C
Sa St Isatis b18 3B
Sa St Isatis b17 3A
Sa St Isatis r29 5C
Sa St Isatis w40 6B* l'angle de serac
St Isatis oc51a 7A+* l'angle ben's
St Sabots rw7b 7A* jeux de toit
St Sabots rw23a 7A* jet set
It's mop-up time for Sarah, and we headed for Isatis to work one or more of "L'Angle Ben's", "L'Envie des Betes", "La Surplomb de la Coquille" and "Sale Affaire", with "..Ben's" highest on the wish list. We warmed up on "Serac" which now feels comfortably wired. For "..Ben's", Sarah still needed to work out her sequence, her feet popping off when stretching for the high rail crimp when using the foot placements I used. Also, the moves off the rail to the top needed attention. She got closer, now able to do the problem in two halves, but not quite linking the whole thing. We walked over to Sablons for Sarah to have another couple of goes on "Sale Affaire". After three quality goes she came within touching distance of the top holds, but the day had taken its toll, so we walked back to the car and drove to Sabots. I'd planned to have another go on "Jeux de Toit" which I'd got rained off some time back, and maybe another few goes at "Jet Set" after Will kindly had texted some advice. "Jeux de Toit" is a butch little overhang and a slopey arete top-out, with a cheeky high heel-toe wedge massively easing things. Other than that, no real mysteries other than bearing down. Although a bit scrabbly at the top, once you have the arete latched, it's all over. And so for "Jet Set", which I so far had gotten nowhere with, to my disappointment. Previously, I'd focused my attention on leaping up to the apex with my right hand, using a wide grip, as this seemed to be what most people tried. I found it desperately hard to get any power from my legs. Will suggested a narrow grip, and only left foot on, and leaping up with the left hand, slightly to the left of the apex. Small adjustments to my sequence, but a massive difference. On my third attempt I latched and held the top. So pleased was I that I nearly wobbled off the top whilst doing my customary top-out dance. Sarah had a handful of extraordinarily close goes on "..Jean-Luc", now repeatedly holding the top rail, but it wasn't to be, and she was a bit disappointed going home with all her projects still remaining projects, even though she'd made progress on all.
22/04 Sa Sabots b16 4C
Sa St Sabots b17 5B
Sa St Sabots b19 4B
Sa St Sabots r12 5B* l'angle a gilles
St Sabots r11 5C* l'arrache-moyeu
Sa Sabots r25 6C* l'angle a Jean-Luc
St Sabots rw23a 7A* jet set
Sa St Sabots rw7a 6C+* anglomaniaque
Back to Sabots, and this time it was siege tactics for Sarah on "..Jean-Luc". And suddenly, it all came together! A blind move of the left foot up from the half-moon edge to a smear and a finger nail pull with her right hand allowed her to shift her centre of gravity to the left in order to move up, and she was done. Everyone was clapping. A capital tick, and the 6C grade belies the extraordinary technical standard of this route. Kudos to Sarah for doing the time, and she was happy and relieved in equal measures. I kick myself I didn't have the camera out for the successful ascent. I repeated "Jet Set" to show myself it wasn't just a stroke of luck, and then Sarah and I set about the roof of "Anglomaniaque" to round off the day.
24/04 Sa St Isatis b31 3B
Sa St Isatis o? ? Orange left of blue 33
Sa St Isatis b32 3B
Sa St Isatis ? ? Arete left of blue 32
St Cuis ? 7A Bizarre Bizarre
Quick warm-up at Isatis, and Sarah set about "l'angle Ben's", next on her project hit list, fresh from her success on "...Jean-Luc". She soon found that her sequence needed tuning, and the temperature wasn't ideal. We wandered up to Cuisiniere and found a problem called "Beatle Juice" that we both had liked the look of from pictures in the guide books - a kind of cratered beach ball hovering in the air. It has a kind of not that interesting 6A from standing, but a much more fun-looking sitter weighing in at a for us mighty 7A+. Good holds it has, but distantly spaced. We spent some time working the sequence, one powerful move at a time. Uncertain if this will go, given the time we have left. After a while we walked up to the main bit and tried "Haute Tension", a 7B recommended by Will. A vertical wall with a long stretch from undercuts up to various nothings. Didn't really make much headway with this. I also tried the arete of "Bizarre Bizarre" (on the "Karma" boulder), which I managed to unlock successfully.
25/04 Sa St Canon sb1 5A+*
Sa St Canon sb2 4C
Sa St Canon sb3 5A
Sa St Canon sb4 5C*
Sa St Canon sb5 4C
Sa St Canon sb6 5B*
Sa St Canon sb7 4C
Sa St Canon sb8 5C
Sa St Canon sb9 5B
Sa St Canon sb10 4C
Sa St Canon sb11 5A
Sa St Canon sb12 5B*
Sa St Canon sb13 4C
Sa St Canon sb14 4C
Sa St Canon sb15 4B+*
Sa St Canon sb16 5B+
Sa St Canon r18 6A
Mileage day at a for us new crag, Rocher Canon, a bit further on from Cuvier. Another scorcher, weather-wise. Big, sprawling place, but quite nice for a chill-out day; a little bit polished in places, but not unbearably so. Quite a lot of circuits here, and we'd decided to seek out the 'Sky Blue', and it took us a good while to find it. This seemed to match what would have been called a red circuit in most other places, grades wise, with mainly fifth-grade problems. And very nice they were, too. Good slabs, with the easy-angled, 4B+ number 15 an amusing acquaintance. Maybe a clue was in the name "Dalle a Marbre" (Marble Slab)? Fun was also to be had on number 4, an undercut slab requiring a high heel and palm to get off the deck.
27/04 (Isatis, Cuisiniere) Ben's, Poussif, Beatle juice, La magnifique, Excalibur, La Mur Cordier..
A long, hard day, with little to show for it :). Sarah put in some more work on "..Ben's", and on one go actually got her fingers over the top jugs, but to her frustration didn't manage to latch on. At least a confirmation that she's got the sequence sorted; now we just need to find optimal conditions. The problem is so marginal that with the current heat wave, it's difficult to get many quality goes in during a climbing day. She was distraught. I had a few goes on "El Poussif", but it feels that this is not something I'd be able to complete on my own without help from some guru who can show me what to do. To top it off, one fall saw me grit-rash my lower left leg, knee to foot, so I suffered a temporary humour by-pass. We walked up to Cuisiniere to carry on playing on "Beatle Juice". We met an American guy, Zach, who is spending 6 months in Font whilst his dad is on an academic exchange working with the top French business school, which apparently (and conveniently) is located in the town of Fontainebleau. Zach showed us some beta on "Beatle Juice", and we also had a play on the neighbouring "Excalibur". A bit later we all walked over to the main bit of the crag to have a look at "La Magnifique", but this felt disproportionally hard, and both Sarah and I soon came to the conclusion that our fingers in their current state aren't up to sharp crimps like that at the moment. On the way out we had another look at "La Mur Cordier", but it still seems utterly improbable.
28/04 (Isatis, Cuisiniere, Sablons) Ben's, Beatle juice, Sale Affaire..
Sarah carried on working "..Ben's" whilst the temperatures allowed, but no top-out as of yet. The accumulated load over the trip is starting to take its toll, and we both feel fatigued, thin-skinned, and battle-worn. Sarah soon felt that this wasn't going to be the day, and that she might benefit from a light day, and with tomorrow's scheduled rest day, focus on maximising her chances after that. We wandered over to Cuisiniere for me to have another play on "Beatle Juice". This problem has caught both of our imagination, and one of the few we've seen so far where the sit start seem to really improve the problem. It's probably the most powerful problem we've attempted with five or six very strong moves in a row before things ease off. Curiously, the crux is not at all where one would be led to assume from inspection. It seemed to us that the crux ought to be the long stretches between poorish holds whilst still in the horizontal, but instead we found ourselves stumped on the move leading from the sit-start extension into the standing start 6A version - this whilst established on perhaps the two biggest hand-holds on the whole problem. No useable feet, and with a growing pump in the arms built up from the previous moves makes it harder than it looks. I came close, but didn't manage to link it this time. It feels as if it will go with some added rest day power in the arms. Sarah found it difficult to sit it out, itching to get on. As we walked back we decided to pop into Franchard Sablons for Sarah to have a quick look at one of her other remaining projects, "Sale Affaire". She had a couple of exploratory goes to fine-tune her sequence, but this will definitely require fully loaded arms for a summit push.
30/04 (Isatis, Cuisiniere, Sablons, Haute Plains) Ben's, Beatle juice, Sale Affaire, Coquille..
A similar pattern to our previous climbing day, although today we'd decided to try to catch slightly more optimal conditions, and we parked up at Isatis around 9:30am. Temperature a reasonable 13 degrees, and with a cloud cover, if things stayed this way, this could shape up to be a great day. Sarah ran around a now familiar warm-up circuit of blues around the "..Ben's" boulder, with an ascent of "..Serac" to finish off her warm-up routine, and to get into the arete-groove. Two false starts were followed by a super-smooth, perfect send, caught on video. Another awesome achievement, and she ups her grade again to V7/Fb7A+. My go next, and soon I was sat under the bulging overhang of "Beatle Juice" again. I should have this licked. Last time I repeatedly dispatched the horizontal bit, but failed when pumped to pull through the crux. I thought that with some rest day power, this would be a formality. It was not. Time after time I failed to latch and hold the three finger pocket, the first of the five hard moves. I must have stuck this ten times on the trot the day before yesterday. A small alteration in how the pocket was latched turned out to be the issue, and on my fifth go, I held it, but failed to do the crux pull. Sixth attempt was a false start, but on my seventh I topped out with a somewhat scrabbly mantle that made the camera woman nervous. Always curious to find that micro changes on a single hold can totally change the outcome, even on something big & butch. And so, the ball's back in Sarah's court, and we walk over to Sablons - we're starting to get quite familiar with the various crags in the Franchard gorge. "Sale Affaire" time. Although Sarah had dispatched "..Ben's" quicker and easier than she'd feared, she was worrying that psyching up again after such a high might be difficult. Moreover, her finger skin is still rather dodgy. At least the air was still cool, and she had a handful of goes, but still not really managing to grab the arete with her left. We sat down on the mats, had some lunch and a quick snooze to recover. We were actually about to pack up and go home when Maison Bleau-Neil appeared, funnily enough at the same problem we'd encountered him before. We chatted for a good while, and he suggested that Sarah had another go, which she did. This time, she latched, and held the arete and would probably have finished it off had she known how to do the top. Psyche was back, and she decided to have a good rest and a final go. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be this time, and we wandered up to Haute Plains to have a look at "Coquille" again - I'd found this hard in our first or second week here, and I was curious to see if it felt any easier now. Sarah had been keen to do this problem, but it had always been overshadowed by other things on her list. Unfortunately by now she was rather spent. I found it much easier this time.
01/05 (Sablons, Haute Plains) Sale Affaire, Some Random 7A crimper wall, Lapin ou Canard..
Got the going home blues. Sarah carried on working "Sale Affaire", and this time managing to get both hands on the top, but still no get. I worked a 7A wall a bit further down, but didn't really make much progress. Wandered around looking for "Lapin ou Canard", but helpfully there are TWO yellow circuits at HP, and we followed the wrong one at first. Eventually we found it, but wtf? Should know by now that grades are all over the place, but I got nowhere on this.
02/05 (Sablons, Haute Plains) Sale Affaire, Surplomb de la Coquille..
Last day! Sarah effortlessly cruising "Sale Affaire" on camera, declaring it a path. Walked up so that she could try "Coquille", but third day on etc it will have to wait until the next trip. And so the time has come to depart. Font really is an amazing, magic place, and it's been a privilege to spend such an extended period of time here, really getting into the Font way. Sarah's gone from having previously climbed a single V4 to solid V6 with a classic V7 as the icing on the cake. I wanted to climb the classics that had eluded me on the last trip, and to do ten seventh grade problems. I came close. The only question is - when can we go back?