[We interrupt this Italian trip report to bring you breaking news from Fontainebleau]
So a mere six weeks since I was here last, after my September trip was brought forward due to work commitments, I find myself sat in my second home yet again, although this time on a different campsite. And yet, despite the fact that it is mid-August in Northern France, and not an Alpine valley, or Welsh mountains, I still find myself dogged by bad weather.
Admittedly, I’m currently sat on a bouldering pad in glorious sunshine, this is day three and it is the first time I’m able to say that this week. The usual travel arrangements were made (finish work at 6, pick everyone up, drive to my destination in as few stops as possible in as short a time as possible) and we arrived to rain. Relentless, almost Welsh rain, and I found myself surprisingly depressed to the extent I wanted to go home. Full credit to my mum for this one; I phoned her to find an optimistic 10-day weather forecast, which looked good for most of the week, thus brightening my outlook somewhat, although I’m still not finding the usual Psyche yet.
Sunday was spent driving around to try and find some alternative accommodation, as my companions on this trip were not particularly enamoured with La Musadiere (to be fair, I hadn’t realised quite how expensive it was there) and we explored the possibility of a gite. However, as it was France’s national holiday on 15th August, not a great deal of success was found and we’ve settled on a site much further South, near Grez sur Long. We then proceeded to spend most of the day asleep.
Monday involved mainly sleeping, shopping and finding that the problem that Chris Lancaster got stuck on all those years ago was actually in Apremont! Eventually we got back to the site, where against my better judgment, I managed to teach poor Sam how to correctly build a fire while getting rather uncharacteristically drunk on a bottle of wine consumed in about half an hour. A nice stir fry was then ruined (for me at least) but collapsing in the bushes, before falling asleep on a bouldering mat and being draped with my sleeping bag. Thank god it didn’t rain.
Yesterday was slightly better, and a nice relaxed start was followed by a trip the popular Bas Curvier, the prominent venue in the forest, and one which continues to draw my attention. Attempts on the blue circuit soon disappeared as the allure of harder projects soon became too much and I proceeded on spending far too many hours trying the first move of Carnage 7b+ to little avail (it’s fucking hard!). Attempts on Abbatoir 7a soon took up a lot more time, despite the psychological barrier caused by Terry’s appalling fall and subsequent broken leg on the same line back in 2007, and the day was completed with a quick repeat of the classic under-graded La Marie Rose 6a. Fajitas of sorts, and a mild campfire finished a good day, (with a ban on wine for me) which despite the ominous skies and temperate conditions saw quite a lot of climbing.
My original plan of 20 – 30 7’s may be disappearing as quickly as my enthusiasm for wine-drinking, but I’m still gonna try and see how close I can get, while trying not to demonstrate what I now call the Three-P’s of bouldering: ping, peel and plummet. I’ll try and keep you posted.
[Photos to follow, Wi-fi connection won’t allow for some reason]