seek drive climb

Simplify our lives, meet new friends, climb new crags. Go Goose Go.

Bleau part Deux

Steve preps L'Etrave as Yannick, Stephanie, and Morgan chillax

Perfect rounded boulders clustered throughout a golden, orange and red Autumn forest. Enough established climbs to last several lifetimes with more to be discovered in the lush mossy forest. Quaint little French towns with boulangeries on every corner serving delicious pastries and breads. Free camping sites with climbers from around the globe meeting and exchanging beta and stories. In a nutshell a bouldering paradise. What can make such a wonderful place lose it's luster? In one word....rain. Endless, unrelenting, mud conjuring rain. Or hot days and 100% humidity following that rain....

Lost in Cul de Chien on a wet day

We expected some wetness upon our return to Font, but we also thought there might be colder temps and overall better conditions. We met quite the opposite when we arrived in early October. The 3 plus weeks we spent in France's premiere bouldering destination started off well enough. It would rain a bit, then clear and we would get in a day or half day of climbing. This quickly degraded into solid rain with a forecast for days of the same. We decided that sitting in the Goose day after day was getting on the dull side and pointed the van north to Amsterdam!

Fast forward five days and we arrived back in Font with renewed skin, high hopes and a slightly better forecast. The weather held for about a day, then rained, and when all hope was lost, it stopped! Only to be replaced by temps in the mid twenties, no wind and a dampness that hung in the air like a wet towel. Think east coast summers, just not quite as hot. I was climbing in shorts; just shorts. This in Font in October?! Give me a break.

Bleausard showing us how it is done

In a few days our friends Scott and Kaddi were planning on visiting. We told them of the endless rain and terrible summer like conditions. They were coming either way as Kaddi's brother's friends were having a 30th bday blowout in Bleau and climbing was second, if not third to drinking and partying.

The fiery end of the German's birthday party

On an overcast day after another day of rain and season 4 of True Blood and reading in the van we set out in the humidity to the infamous Bas Cuvier. I had not been there yet even after a cumulative month spent in Bleau and Corinne had visited it once on a single day trip to Font with our friend Mike Silva back in '07. Upon our arrival we ran into our friend Clement whom we had met in Rocklands. A part time videographer and creator of Sandstones Media. He was also planning on meeting Scott and Kaddi when they arrived. He showed us a few classic in Bas Cuvier, then set off to pick up his girlfriend Julie. We spent most of the day in just one sector where I managed to crank out the first 7a, 7b and 7c in the forest. Not a bad day considering the friction reminded me of a slice of pizza. Corinne also busted out a few sends despite her growing belly. She managed to finesse her way up a Font 6a which would be 6b+ anywhere else on the planet. Not too shabby for 40 and pregnant in the day's pizza like conditions. We relearned the valuable lesson that the results of no expectations, unadulterated psyched and the only goal being to have fun, is that you actually end up sending a lot of boulder problems despite conditions.

Clement centimeters shy

The beautiful Contrôle Technique 7c+ Bas Cuvier

I left the shoe on for 3 hours

A few days before team Germany was scheduled to arrive our Swiss/French friends from Geneva Morgan, Stephanie and Yannick showed up to join us for a few days of sloppy sloper groping. We spent a few days in the humid rainforest conditions climbing classics and discovering 'new to us' lines. In the evenings we would all retreat to their small gite and prepared yummy warm meals.

Yannick topping out the classic La Marie Rose 6a Bas Cuvier

Morgan dyno'ing on a slab..go figure ;)

After a few days we had to go back in Paris for another ultrasound (stay tuned!) and checkup for Corinne. Upon our return the weather had finally shifted to cold October conditions and we spent our final days with Scott and Kaddi experiencing a small taste of Font friction.

Smooching the stone on Mégalithe 7c/7c+ at Rocher Gréau

As we prepared to leave, the rain clouds returned and with it our desire to move south in hopes of warmer, drier weather were solidified. While conditions could have been better, they in no way altered the fact that Fontainebleau is the best bouldering the world has to offer and we are sure to return time and again in the future; even if it might rain the entire time.

-S

PS - A shout out must go to Corinne for once again shooting some great shots that I plaster my name all over. Thanks baby!

Fighting the Rain

We are back in sandstone paradise, but as before, paradise is a little soggy. I anticipated that there might be some rain (turned out to be a LOT) when we were back in Fontainebleau, so we devised a plan for making camping a little more comfortable. While still in Fixin we stopped by the Brico Depot, France's Home Depot, and for a little over $13 we built an awning for the Goose. Using some two meter PVC piping, 45 degree joints, some basic hardware, a few bungees, a cheap tarp and some magnets, we constructed a quick setup/breakdown system that utilizes the jack stand points on the van.

The PVC pipes fit into the jack points and attach to the tarp with wing nuts. The end of the tarp "attached" to the van has ducted taped neodymium iron boron magnets every 30 centimeters. Then we use the two remaining rivets to run bungees to random points on the top of van and two guide lines borrowed from our tent and stake them into the ground.

So far the system has held up well in three storms; the magnets detaching only once in a very windy storm. In that case we made the guide lines a little less taught and the magnets stayed for the remainder of the winds. While the whole side of the van is not covered, the area by the sliding door stays dry and makes life on rainy days much more enjoyable. It also sure as hell beats buying a $1000 Fiama awning….

-S

PS - We are going Tarantino nonlinear for this post. We stopped in Geneva before returning to France, stay tuned.

Cooking my 31st birthday meal under our new creation

Emilie and Raul

After we left our SF friends and the gite in Moigny-sur-ecole, we decided to head south to an area Scott and Kaddi recommended called Petit Bois. Since it had been raining for some time we thought that the weather and the rock may be better the more South we went, since Steve and MK had that experience while Ginny and I were in Paris. Petit Bois was a great area, tons of problems on both the blue and red circuits, and also included Big Dragon, a problem that Steve wanted to get on, which completely suited his style. This was the area where I began to  understand the essence of mantling and smearing.

We didn't arrive there until late in the afternoon but since it doesn't get dark here until 9:30pm, we still got to climb quite a bit. No one was around, so we decided to camp there and see what was up; we didn't yet have the 411 on how to camp for free here in Europe,so we weren't quite sure where we could stay and where we couldn't. After a bit, another car rolled up. An older guy, probably about 52 or so, got out walked over to Big Dragon (Steve had not gotten on it yet) and began to have some goes. He worked on it for about 45 minutes and then grabbed his pad, packed it all away and took off. Guess he was working on his proj...he got through the first two moves before packing up, not bad.

While senior working his proj, a panel van drove up, parked and started playing some techno music. No climbing, no hiking, just techno. We thought this was a bit weird but hey, we were in the small town of Saint-Pierre de Nemours, who knows how these folks roll.  We cooked, ate, and snuggled in for an episode of Dexter. By the end of the show, another van showed up,  we just assumed it was the techno boys again and went to sleep.

We slept well and enjoyed our first night on our own. Steve got up early, as he was eager to get out climbing again. Unfortunately, I woke up with a sore throat and a cough, so Steve let me sleep in. After his first climbing session, about fifteen problems, he decided to wake me up and make coffee etc. he noticed that the car that drove up the night before, was not in fact the techno boys but another Westy with another couple. Emilie, a Canadian Quebeçois, and Raul, who was from Spain, came over to wish us a good morning (our CA plates had inspired them to come by and chat). We chatted for a few moments and then they went off to eat breakfast and get ready to climb.

Steve's second session was with me. We climbed a bit on both the blue and the red circuit. I worked some of the red problems that included mantles and very crappy feet; they were great fun. After 20-30 minutes we were chatting and climbing right along with Raul and Emilie. We went up to work on some reds, whites and a couple of off-piste climbs together; the more crash pads, the merrier! We climbed together for 3-4 hours until the rain started again. After a couple hours, Emilie and I decided to go shopping on their mountain bikes while Steve rested up for his third session of the day.  Raul and Emilie traveled with their mountain bikes so that they could camp for a while and just use their bikes to get around. There were two markets, the Lidl and the Carrefour, .5 mile away from where we were camped.

We got back and unpacked and my cold began to come back full force. I decided to rest, read and take a nap while Steve was ready for his third session of the day; he finally began working on Big Dragon but after several attempts and raw tips, it just would not go. He got to the second to last move (the crux) but today was not the day. More chatting and hanging with Raul and Emilie, then dinner and sleep. Petit Bois had served us well.

It rained that night. Again and harder than previous nights staying there was just not an option. So we all planned on moving on, but agreed that we would meet up later that day or in the evening at the Hippodrome de la Solle for camping.  Raul and Emilie became our new camping and climbing buddies during the rest of our Font trip...

Emilie and Raul have been traveling for the past two years in their van around Spain and France. Intermittently, Emilie will get a job so that they can continue on their travels, as Raul is in school finishing up his degree in Computer Science. His classes are entirely online, so he just needs to make sure that he has Internet and juice for his computer and he is good to go; he can work from almost anywhere until the end of the semester when he may have to go in for a final. He is able to  live in the van, climb and travel but must also be diligent about getting his work done.  Since it rains a lot in Font, he is able to take advantage of those days and go to the local library and use the SFR Free Wifi.

Raul and Emilie have figured out how to live simply and inexpensively while still eating well and climbing a lot. We learned a lot from them. When Emilie first took me shopping, she took me the Lidl prior to the Carrefour, showing me what to buy at the Lidl because it was that much cheaper; there were still some things that I didn't want to buy there, but overall the Lidl was the place to go. Only problem is there are not many of them. Emilie and Raul also tend to buy a lot more food than we do, as they do not have a full camper but a weekender and therefore have more room; they know what will keep and what is not worth getting but the most important food item that they introduced us to was the chocolate pack from the Carrefour. For under €2, you can get 5 bars of pretty decent chocolate. We plowed through the chocolate in Font...

They also told us about McD's. McD's is the sure fire way to get Internet. Every McD's in France offers free wifi.  They are the only place that you can truly count for getting free wifi, sometimes SFR Free wifi doesn't work but McD's always does. However, we have now found that in Germany, you actually need to buy something before getting the wifi. Once you buy something, you get a sign in  and then you are home free. We have yet to utilize it yet, but it will happen, you can be sure of that.

One evening, Emilie gave us the run down on all of the places that we should go to in Spain, along with descriptions of the type of rocks and climbs. They have been traveling and climbing for a long time, so they definitely have the 411 on where to climb and where to camp. I don't know if we will be able to hit all of the places they mentioned, but we will definitely do our best.

Here is the list of spots that we want to hit with descriptions of the rock and what is good there. We hope to hit them in the Fall, either before or after Font, but we will see... 1. Mont Serrat - great sector in the south "el vermell", "can jorba", on the north side "San Benet"(sp?) - many smaller areas within this place - conglomerate rock - vertical and slabby (sandbagged) 2. Rodeller - limestone - "kalandraka" (Refugio) - overhanging 3. Bruixas - limestone - in Terradets which have sport multi-pitches (very few) many need some additional gear - overhanging 4. Siurana - limestone - slabs and vertical...(sandbagged) 5. Montsan - conglomerate - raco de misa, overhanging 6. Margelef  - conglomerate - everything, has pockets, every grade, vertical and overhanging - other side of Montsan- about an hour away 7. Villanova - good sport multi-pitch - limestone 8. Cavallers- good multi-pitch - granite - good wall for reg sport climbing African wall- good bouldering as well b4 multi- pitch.

Two days before we headed off to Germany to meet Scott and Kaddi, Emilie got word that she was hired by the Canadian government to work on trail maintenance in Alberta. She was off to work for the next 3 months in the forests. Raul still had 6 weeks left of school, so he was going to have to stay behind while Emilie went back to get ready for work. Both were pretty sad that there home was about to split up for a little while but Emilie was already looking to buy a van to live in once she had reached Alberta; Raul would then fly to Canada to meet her and live in the van as well. Once she completed her 3 month contract, the plan was to go into the U.S. and head to Indian Creek in Tennessee; they had been dreaming of climbing there for quite a while. So, U.S. folks, should you want to do some top class climbing with an incredibly chill and skilled couple, hit us up and we will connect you.

What a coincidence that we met Raul and Emilie; they were the perfect couple to meet as we began to embark on our journey. They knew all the ins and outs of van living and how to live on the cheap. There are a lot of differences between our journeys, as our trip includes a LOT more driving and a lot more destinations but we will utilize their tips and our experiences with them for the rest of journey. Thanks guys for helping to make our adventure that much better!

~C&S

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The vans camped out at the Hippodrome. Got cut short as it started to rain...

Raw Tips

Well, we finally have climbed in Fontainebleau. Though we have been here for 12 days, I have climbed a total of 6 days, while Steve has climbed 7. Together we climbed the following areas: Isatis, Petit Bois and Rocher Canon. The day that I went to Paris with Ginny, Steve stayed and climbed with MaryKate and went Boutier. Though it was raining on Ginny and I in Paris, MK and Steve were able to head south and escape it; the farther south they went, the better the weather.

Even with 6 days under my belt, my skin is only just beginning to feel ready for these sandstone boulders. Font's circuits are a completely new way for me to approach bouldering. I love that I have no idea what level I am climbing and that I just know that I will feel best with red and blue and a few white...sure, I have attempted one or two off-piste problems but to absolutely no avail; I just figured that I can always try.

Bouldering here is hard; it is techy and the feet are rarely bomber but I am learning. I actually love it. Much better for me than the overhanging and thrutchy moves in Vegas or Bishop. Mantles are tough but this is the best place for me to learn and s l o w l y, I am getting better.

~a bien tot Corinne

I have wanted to come to Fontainebleau since I first slid off a sandstone sloper at Castle Rock State Park in California back in 2000. It has taken me 12 years to finally make it here, albeit at the tail end of the season, but dagnabbit I am finally made it. I am made for this climbing. Body tension, surface area and reach, coupled with technique, finesse, and patience and are the name of the game here. I certainly have the former; the latter can be mastered for a lifetime. My big mitts are happily at home on the brain like bulges of this beautiful forest. Font has it's fair share of crimps, but almost every boulder presents you with a rounded top out, void of holds and begging to be mantled. My triceps have not been this sore from climbing in some time; gotta do more pushups...

The weather has been wet, rainy and humid or sunny, hot and humid. The perfect conditions for sanding your tips down to pink tender nubs after repeated failed attempts to hit a sloper you swear exists, but your hand simply can't find. It may have been better sending conditions two months ago, but the evenings are on the warm side and rest days are comfortable in the Goose, so we can't really complain. Font is massive. We have been to several sectors, explored others and have barely touched the surface. It is overwhelming. I could climb here for a lifetime. As it stands we only have a few more days here before we drive to Freiburg to meet our friends Scott and Kaddi. Hopefully the weather will hold and we will get in a few more days of crushing. I guess we will just have to come back in the Fall. :)

-S

Below are some more pics from Corinne. There would be some of her, but I am generally spotting...

Having a great day at the base of Rainbow Rocket in Franchard Isatis.

Serious about sending. Which can be seen below!

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San Francisco in Moigny-sur-école

Château de Fontainebleau

It took us 5 hours to get from Calais to Fontainebleu.  Well, not really Fontainebleau, actually Moigny-sur-école, a small town on the outskirts. There was a plan to meet our good friends, Ginny and Marykate, who were staying in a gite close to the climbing.  Upon arrival, we parked our van on the street and knocked on the door of the address we were given.  A man came out, looking a bit confused. In my broken French, I asked about our American friends.  He had not seen our friends, nor were they staying at his house. At this point, we had no phone, no wi-fi (wee-fee en francais), no way to contact our friends.  I remembered seeing a phone booth in town, so we decided to attempt to make one last contact. We drove over to the phone, parked and as we are getting out of the car, we see a car pull up next to us. We are about to get out when we hear someone yelling at us. We look over and see Daniel Won waving to us from his rental car.  Our friends found us!

As it turns out, Daniel noticed a van with California plates parked outside while pulling into the courtyard of the gite. He did not think much of it but mentioned his observation to the others (Ginny, MaryKate, Chris and Dave). Immediately, Ginny sent him out to find us.  As luck would have it, the van was no longer there.  He decided to drive through town to see if he could locate us, the phonebooth being his first stop. And voila, we were found!

The gite has a large courtyard, a perfect place for parking the Iron Goose. Thankfully, we have had a house and a large space to reorganize our lives prior to truly living on the road. The first 5 days staying with our friends at the gite has been the most incredible start to our new life.  We have had a wonderful time visiting with our friends; climbing (climbing in Font is phenomenal), eating (although, we could do with less cheese, baguettes and croissants and Daniel's insistence on getting more every morning) and socializing (the conversation and companionship has been indispensable).

It feels like a small part of San Francisco has come with us to bid us farewell and we wouldn't have it any other way.  Thank you Ginny Evans, MaryKate Meyerhoffer, Chris Deegan, Dave Alfaro and Daniel Won for making our first stop the best ever!

Greetings from Font, Corinne

Day 1 in the forest