Monday, October 17, 2016

Fontainebleau Diaries Part Two

After a late start today, I finally made it out to the boulders this afternoon. Of the endless supply of problems here in Fontainebleau, I only know a few. Also, I didn’t spend days pouring over climbing videos and books to put together a tick list. I just want to climb what looks good, regardless of what other people have to say. But I went against that and went to try one of the few roofs in Font, Eclipse.

I have to say first, Cul de Chien, the area where Eclipse is located, is maybe the most idyllic climbing area I’ve ever been. It rained a bit this morning, just enough to brighten the colors of the birch’s turning leaves, and the paths snaking through the sand and heather were now untrodden. After days of grey skies the clearing clouds almost seemed to cut into the blue.

I found Eclipse after some wandering and set into figuring out the movement. Starting in a good undercling and then shouldering out an opposing rail which is then matched and flipped to an undercling as well. After crossing right to a bad sloper, a high toe hook almost seems to invert you. To work the top of the problem, I was pulling on at the second undercling, and every time I moved off the right hand sloper, body feeling inverted, I took in the sky. Soon, I was falling off the last move from the beginning, and conditions were improving. A Polish couple came around the corner, and then, a few minutes later, a few Germans. My solitude had been interrupted, but company is always welcome.

Then it began to rain. Lightly at first. We pulled all the pads and gear under the roof, and I started to brush up the sit start to Eclipse. A skinny man with a baby appeared and stood under the roof out of the rain, which had picked up its pace. Rivulets of water were making their way down the walls, soaking the pockets and narrowing the dry ground.  Three women, soaked, came out of the woods and joined us in our shrinking shelter. We talked mostly about climbing in our homes and climbing in Font as the dripping rivulets of rainwater brought us all closer and closer together. A brief tangent was made to make fun of me for being American. Donald Trump? How could that happen? Hardy har har. I’m glad to be in Europe, though it’s pretty hard to tear my eyes away from the train wreck that is American politics.

Cigarettes were rolled and smoked, beers were drank, laughter was in the air and I think friends were made. The rain slowed and I walked back to the car park with the Polish couple and got their contact information to meet them tomorrow, when I will hopefully not fall off the top of Eclipse.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fontainebleau Diaries

I arrived here in Fontainebleau late yesterday after a few wrong turns on the network of highways surrounding Paris. I met Pascal, my Airbnb host in front of my little house, and he showed me around my little flat. It’s not much to see—just a small room and a bathroom. Pascal took a suspicious amount of care to explain a small locked door in the hallway. Nothing but electrical panels in there, apparently. But when I told him I didn’t bring a duvet cover, he pulled out his keys and opened it. A narrow brick stairway led down into darkness. He could see that I was curious, and offered a look. I went downstairs expecting to find a dirt floored cellar, but when he turned on the light I found myself looking at a hot tub. The room was completely tiled, and there were some cases of wine stacked in a corner. “this room is not included” Pascal told me, and then, changing the subject quickly, offered me a couple bottles of wine.

Today, I picked my Mom, Ellen up from the train station in the early afternoon. She’ll be here for the next week, and we’ll hit some of the sites around Fontainebleau and Paris, which will be great, I’m sure. After we ate, I left her at her hotel, and went climbing.

I went to a little area off the beaten path called Mont Ussy, and just climbed whatever looked good and protectable with one pad. I did Gazoline immediately, and then a couple of other 7a’s just as a couple of cars pulled up. The sun was setting and I was enjoying just being. The light in the forest. Little nuthatches flitted around the oaks and pines, chirping softly. The people from the car got out, and their golden retriever sniffed around as they began to play Bocce. I sat and listened to the satisfying knocks of bocce balls coming together, to snippets of French, and to the rare car driving by someplace out of site, their motors muffled by the trees. I’ve spent good amounts of time in Scandinavia and Italy, places whose native languages are not so pleasant on the ear, so listening to French is a real treat. A few rain drops started to fall, and I sent the problem I’d been trying. The sun had set, and while the Bocce game hadn’t stopped, I decided to call it a day. Tomorrow I’ll try a more popular area, depending on the schedule with good old Mom.
Au revoir!