Font – May 2014 (by Anna Tonkin)

“Do you fancy joining us for a week of bouldering in Font in May?” Well the dates clashed with the WMC Lakes meet (which is a particular favourite of mine that I like to go on) but this sounds interesting.
I’ll be honest and admit that a week in a forest, bouldering….where are the views?, the long routes?, the variety of landscapes to take in? I wasn’t entirely sure but everyone I know that has been to Font, absolutely raves about and says “Ahhh Font” and goes all misty eyed, telling me I must go. So………I was in.
We took the Eurotunnel and arrived at our self catering gite in the small traditional village of Vulaines-sur-Seine which is just east of the forest over the river. Having taken only a few hours’ drive once we arrived in France, we headed straight to the boulders for a late afternoon starter.
Those misty eyed climbers I mentioned previously had also warned me that there isn’t really anything you can do to prepare for Font, other than to be ready for open wide reachy slabby holds and lots of mantel move top outs. After my first exploration at Bas Cuvier, I can confirm that this is absolutely true and would like to add: failing to even get off the ground on the ‘easy’ routes!
During the week we went to many different areas, including:
Gorges D’Apremont – where Henry completed the entire – and very popular classic blue ultra marine blue circuit with 44 problems.
Cul de Chien – which is like climbing at the beach with a huge sandy central area around which are a variety of circuits. The friendly surface gave me some confidence to start trying some harder routes, knowing the softer landing was there. Luckily there are some trees to seek shade from the midday sun.

Cul de Chien

My favourite day was spent playing on the orange circuit in Canche aux Merciers . The boulders are mostly in small clusters, with some standing alone en route between different sections. There were some fun traverses, awkward chimney moves, pockets and heel hooks – a good variety of styles needed. This was followed by a BBQ back at the gite, as the owners had warned us that the next few days had rain forecast.
Everyone likes dinosaurs right? So we went off to Diplodocus in search of the giant boulders – true they are big (which was useful for hiding under during a rain shower) but dinosaur like… well I couldn’t see the resemblance.
We only got a little bit of climbing in this area, as the boulders were soon a little damp from the rain. We also went to Franchard – Cuisiniere and Isatis areas but unfortunately no climbing due to rain, which seemed to start as soon as we had put the bouldering mats on our back for the short walk in.
So after a week in Font I can definitely say that all my misgivings were removed – the forest landscape is stunning; long routes – well some of the bigger boulders to quote Henry ” I’ve taken a full rack on things shorter than that!’’. And as for the variety of climbing – each area we visited had a different feel – with more rocks than you can imagine, of all grades and styles. With the rainy option of a nearby cafe selling coffee and croissants whilst you sit it out, Font is friendly and is a great trip. I’ll definitely be back.
-Au revoir!

Gorges D’Apremont

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