La Plage sans la Mer

There are some places in the world where I am desperate to go; most of which have been mentioned previously on this blog. It’s becoming obvious (even in my most optimistic moods) that I’m never going to have the time to go and visit even half of the destinations I have in mind, with a list that continues to grow with every passing magazine article, foreign climber and climbing film that I come across. Yet even with this blatant fact imprinted deep into my conscious mind, I still have no regrets when it comes to returning to Fontainebleau.

This is now my eighth trip to the Promised Land, and although the trip was originally to Switzerland, to exorcise the demons I have hanging over my head from the trip in 2006, I’d rather be nowhere than la plage sans le mer. I’m currently sat at L’Elephant, a crag that really does nothing for me, but in truth my companion on this trip has not seen the famous Elephant boulder before, and I am taking an enforced rest day due to injury. Repeated attempts on Carnage 7b yesterday, with the finest of lines resting delicately between failure and success have forced the tendons in my left hand to contract and wince, either at the prospect of having to repeat the same hard moves the following day, or as a stubborn protest at my succeeding on such a classic hard problem.

The week has followed a similar pattern as so many previously, but the old adage of “if it ain’t broke” speaks volumes. An early finish at work on Saturday and a heinous night of driving (including an hours sleep in front of the car in a service station: I was woken by some local 20-somethings saying, “C’est dangeroux” and thinking “it wouldn’t be if you’d left me alone!”) took us to my personal favourite campsite: La Musadiere. It is more expensive than other campsites around the area, but I think it is more convenient, and the petrol saved almost makes up the shortfall.

Sunday, once I woke up again! was spent at Cul de Chien where we ran into some local Candians. A couple known as Steve and MC (the latter of which has literally just topped out on a boulder less than 30ft from me) are from Squamish, BC, and are the third people I’m hooking up with this June. We’ve subsequently climbed with them every day, along with a Swedish couple from Goteborg, whose names I sadly forget but who will also probably receive a visit in the not-too-distant-future, at Bas Curvier on Monday and Tuesday, and despite the departure of our Swedish friends, now at l’Elephant today.

Immense effort

The weather has also been somewhat unusual considering what I am used to. Our first real night’s sleep was interrupted by the cold, and yet the days have been spent in flip-flops and t-shirt, even to the extent I spent several hours this afternoon trying to get rid of the pasty white covering that I seem to have. Conditions on the website were supposed to be perfect and the website has proven itself to me with stunning accuracy.

The ticks have not been many, as on this trip I’ve been searching for quality rather than quantity, but it has still been rejuvenating to return to my most visited foreign crag, and somewhere that always fills me with joy. Plans for tomorrow have yet to be made, although they will no doubt involve climbing around the Trois Pignons area, with probably a trip to 95.2 on Friday and a final resurgence to Bas Curvier on Saturday with a desperate attempt to tick the uber-classic Carnage. Mike, who again is just topping out, also has aspirations for Helicopter 7a although my history with the problem has left me too nervous to participate. Hopefully he’ll get it, preferably sans injury, and hopefully I’ll heal enough to get my project. Although, to be honest, even if not, there is little doubt that I will return.


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