Fontainebleau, France

Fontainebleau is known as the birthplace of modern bouldering. After talking with friends who have visited in the past I knew it was an incredible place filled with culture, history, and insanely good rock. I had to check it out!

Through photos, video, and general word of mouth I felt that I had a good idea of the style and how to train for it. I’ve climbed in the southeast quite a bit and I knew that the climbing is similar in Font. I did a lot of tricep oriented exercises to prep for the notoriously hard top outs and ran circuits on physical, slopy boulder problems.

My primary goal for the trip was to see and climb as many classic boulders as I could. Font is massive with something like 20,000 problems. This being my first trip I really wanted to see as many zones as I could and get the most out of my trip. As far as individual problems I really wanted to try Elephunk, Partage, Misericorde, La Baleine, Tigre et Dragon, Cetait Demain, and Rainbow Rocket.

The first 5 days of our trip were incredible. We had an amazing weather window and I took advantage by climbing all day, every day. It was a great chance to adjust to the style and I was able to climb 3 or 4 world class boulders each of these days. My goals seemed to change often, every day I would stumble past some incredible looking boulder and need to pull on. Climbing in font was like drinking water through a fire hose! Totally over whelmed by the quantity of world class boulders.

Nick Chavis
Nick Chavis
Da Capo, (7C) relatively new highball boulder at l'Elephant Ouest. Probably the best of the grade I've ever done. Subtle but powerful with hard, committing moves at the top.
Nick Chavis

(upper left) Misericorde (7C+) So mega! After seeing this massive arête I had to climb it. Some of the best movement is Font on one of the sickest features. This boulder embodies everything I look for in a good boulder problem. (upper right) Rataplat (7b) in Franchard Isatis. After seeing the rock on this one I had to climb it, features that classic elephant skin font texture that everyone loves! (below) Partage, 8A+, zone is Buthiers Piscine.

Nick Chavis
I wasn’t able to finish of Elephunk or Partage (which became the main goals) due to a dramatic shift in weather over the second half of our trip but I climbed a few others that weren’t on my radar so all in all I came away very satisfied with how everything went.

Font is incredible and is easily my favorite bouldering area in the world. The features and texture of the rock creates incredibly subtle movement. I noticed that although the style was physical, weight distribution and body positions played a key role in the climbing. People have been bouldering there for nearly a century and it shows! There is so much history and the local community is very respectful of the forest. I could spend a lifetime exploring Font and I can’t wait to return!

One of the most memorable events was probably sending Flora out at Les Mammouths. My buddy Niky Ceria suggested that I check out this incredible line. One morning later on in the trip we discovered that about 4 inches of snow had fallen over night and figured we should rest and maybe explore a bit. So we drove down to check out Flora and thanks to some trees and the general shape of the boulder there was little snow on it.

Despite it being around 25 degrees (F) out I started trying it and got to the final rail in a couple tries. The last press involved matching a slopey rail, getting a horrible high left smear and rocking over onto your foot while pressing up to the lip of the boulder. It was delicate, and every time the foot popped I would tumble violently and usually roll down a small snow covered hill. After about 25 explosive foot pops I was freezing and frustrated. My buddy Levi basically dragged me to the car to sit in front of the heater and chill for a bit/eat some food. After 20 minutes I was feeling wrecked but warmer and figured I'd give it one more go. We walked back out, I put on my shoes, and sent first try. Although its only 7C+ that send was one of my favorites of the trip.

I feel like Font forces you to become really in tune with your body. The climbing is crazy subtle and there is little room for error on the harder lines. I learned a ton about the French language and culture. After the trip to Font I've noticed that I'm smarter and more conscious of small weight shifts while im climbing. Also I have a new found love for slopers!

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April 14, 2018 — Jamey Sproull