A blog about climbing full time on the road.

matthewandcassie's items Go to matthewandcassie's photostream

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fontainebleau Part Deux

 Well we've been steadily chipping away at the areas here in Fontainebleau. It's incredible that we've climbed at a different area every day for the last 2 weeks and we still haven't made it to some major areas. We've been climbing 2 days on 1 day off, but after 10 days of that we've started feeling some aches and pains so we're backing off a bit.
concept 6c+
Concept 7a

the castle and river 200 yards from our camp.
We moved camp from La Musardiere to Les Pres because Les Pres was half the price. It's also within walking distance of a great little town on a river that has a 900 year old castle! Plus there's a little bakery with great fresh baguettes and pastries.

Cassie and her lunch

We've made it to the Bas Cuvier area where we climbed with some brits that were quite a lot of fun (both of their names were Tom) and had a great day. It's excellent to get more spotters and just the comraderie of bouldering is better with more people. We tried la Marie Rose, which has to be one of the most frustrating problems ever. Very balancy and technical (Cassie's style-she came close) and is rated a Font 6a (easy V3, yeah right!), it's incredible that it was climbed something like 60 years ago. We both gave up on it, but vowed to come back. I tried La Joker (7a) and got completely humbled. Cassie sent Le Trou Simon (6a) and we all tried to get on the send train but got spanked. After that I did a sweet double dyno that I can't even find in the book, but watched some other guys try it. It's an all points off dyno from an undercling to two slopers. Sick!!!

Double Dyno 6c?

We went to Francard Isatis and checked out the blue circuit as well as some red climbs. The rock was excellent and we had a good day. One really really good problem was Le Surplomb Statique (6a+) which was an incredible climb. Great movement and fun. According to the font grades it's only a hard V3!!!! Everything here feels much harder than the grades they give it.
Le Surplomb Statique
Le Surplomb Statique (6a+)
slopers anyone?
Slopers anyone?
On Sunday we tried to go to Versailles. We had everything packed, woke up early and drove straight to the train station. We made it to the palace at about 11am, and were shocked to see that the line was like a mile long. I'm not kidding, we looked and thought we were seeing 3 separate lines and then realized it was one long twisting snake of a line. We opted to keep our tickets till December and go back just before we leave for the US. We figured we would have been waiting in line for at least two hours. I suppose that's what you get going to the most popular tourist attraction in the country. So, we walked around the Luxemberg gardens, checked out the Pantheon, walked through the Latin Quarter and went to the monument to the Bastille. We had a great day just walking around Paris. It's a city that is meant for walking and riding bikes. Everything is much more friendly than NYC or other US cities. it's a place that you can stroll for hours without getting bored.


  Yesterday we checked out Apremont. It was a cool area, though stuff was pretty high and with only one pad and spotter it was a bit stiff for us. The temps lately have been very hot for good bouldering at around 80 degrees and it isn't expected to cool off until next Tuesday (which was about when we were planning to leave). We'll see if that happens as we're hoping to start making projects out of the hard problems and see what we can send. 80 is way too hot, next Wednesday they're saying 63. That's much better.

can't escape the usa
the USA - in France...

Monday, September 19, 2011

France and Fontainebleau

Notre Dame statues
notre dame statues
 We made it to Font! We arrived jetlagged in Paris and picked up our car with no problems. Thanks to the trusty GPS we found our way to the campsite near Milley-en-Foret. The GPS is the most wonderful invention ever. I have no idea how we would navigate without it. After we got to the campsite and got established we decided to go into town to buy a crashpad and supplies. There is a carrefour (which is sort of like a walmart) and decathalon (sporting goods store), about 20km from camp. We stumbled our way around in a jetlag fog to buy what we needed for a few days. After getting back to the campsite we realized that we had forgotten to buy any fuel for our campstoves. We made a few extra trips because I-Matthew thought that all propane/butane cylinders were alike. Eventually we fell asleep in our tents with our bodies not sure what time it was, but completely sure we were exhausted.

Blue 20 (I like to call it Atari)
the atari arete (Matt's name)
Our first full day here, we walked from the campsite into the Trois Pignons area of the forest into a group of boulders called 95.2. The boulders here are amazing!! The friction and tecture of the rock is crazy, the landings are all mostly flat and sandy. We quickly learned that just because we can climb a grade at home does not mean you can climb it at font, especially when still in the jet lag fog. So, we've mostly been trying problems from some of the easier marked circuts that look fun and are starting to try a few harder ones as we get more of a feel for how things climb here.

crazy texture
sandstone texture
Cul De Chien area
cul de chien area
Le Petit Toit
le petit toit - super fun heel hook traverse
People have been bouldering at font for much longer than most places in the us and the style is very different here. They made up many circuts of climbs through an area which are maked with colors giving an idea of how hard the circut is and numbers to show where you are on the circut. This is actually marked with painted arrows and numbers right on the boulder. So, we have an idea that a blue circut problem is probably around a V0-V2, and a red circut problem is maybe between V2 and V5, but you don't usually know for sure. Some people seem to just climb the circuts and others try individual problems. The bouldering scene is very different here than in the US. In the US we sometimes feel like we're pretty old for boulderers with most people you see in their 20's or under. Here, you're just as likely to see people in their 40's and 50's usually walking around in their climbing shoes and just as often without a pad as with a pad.

Red 40
how the problems are marked

The forest and amount of boulders here is absolutely ridiculous. In two days of bouldering, we have explored two areas of Trois pignons which is just one of 5 or 6 main huge areas of font all which have 10-20 areas within them which would take at least a day each to explore let alone actually spending the time to work on a harder problem that you want to get. It's pretty mind boggling.

Turtle head
le biblioquet -- they say it's a dog head, we think it's a turtle at least from this angle
The weather has been a bit rainy the last couple days. We took the train into Paris yesterday while it poured here. It takes about 40 minutes by train to get to Paris and they run every half hour. Very convenient! We made our way to Notre Dame and walked through the main cathedral while mass was going on. The light through the stained glass windows was beautiful and the detail in all of the statues was amazing. With the sermon being given in French and the smell of incense in the air it was quite moving. From there we walked to the Louve where we stayed in the outside plazas then walked into the adjacent park. We might go back to Louve in a couple weeks since entrance is free on the first sunday of the month. The park had beautiful gardens and statues all throughout and was a great place to walk and have a picnic. It's amazing how much art there is outdoors here. If you want to spend a day in Paris and see a lot of statues just walk around for a while and you'll see lots for free! After a little more wandering we realized we were pretty close to the Arc de Triumph. We stood looking at the craziest traffic roundabout I've ever seen and were terribly puzzled how we were supposed to get across into the center to the Arc. I promised Cassie $10 if she made it across the insane roundabout alive, but she declined and we finally figured out that there was an underground passage. We were super lucky to find out that admission to the top was for free that day (still not sure why), so we went up the long spiral staircase for some amazing views of the city.

Norte Dame
notre dame

stained glass rainbows
light through the stained glass
stained glass and the cross
stained glass
We had debated on which way the Eiffel tower was from the Arc, and as luck would have it the view from the top easily showed us the way, that is until we spent 5 minutes walking down a spiral staircase inside the Arc. (If there are no flights of stairs in a spiral staircase how do you describe how far you walked?) When we got out we were literally dizzy and it took us a minute to figure out what direction we were pointed.

We walked down a street toward the Eiffel (sounds weird to leave the word "tower" off), but kind silly to leave it on since you know exactly which Eiffel we are talking about. The street we took had expensive looking clothing shops on it, but was basically deserted which was quite odd since only 1 street over was the busiest we had been on in Paris. On the way to the Tower we walked past an photography exhibit and enjoyed being totally puzzled by what is called art. Eventually we arrived at the Tower and decided we were too tired to spend any real time exploring, so we hopped on the metro and headed back to camp. Total cost for the day was $2.00 (4 x .50) for the public bathrooms. Very weird to have to pay to get into the bathroom and even weirder in the metro when the attendant lady says to you in French "go ahead" and she is pointing to the same row of stalls that your wife just walked into and you're thinking "will they arrest me for being some weird pervert if I go into a womans bathroom, or will she think I'm an idiot if I just stand here looking dumb". Tough choices. Luckily they are unisex bathrooms or I might have rang you all up for bail.

On the train home we were completely confused as to what train we were supposed to be on. Even after asking (in english) a couple of guys standing at the doors and they confirmed it was the right train it looked completely different than the one we had gotten on. It's amazing how completely inept you feel in someone else's country. In our heads we know we are reasonably intelligent people, but when you can't speak the language you have to depend on the kindness of strangers. We've found that the French people are quite happy and helpful to point you in the right direction, even while you massacre their language just trying to ask if they speak English. If I have an accent I'm pretty sure its the one you get from a labotomy.

This morning the weather is looking better but it's still wet from yesterday, so we're hoping this afternoon things will be dry enough to climb a bit more. We were waiting to for the tourism office to open to find out where an internet cafe was when we met a nice Indian couple who we chatted with for awhile. He was looking at attending the university here and told us there were free computers that we could use, which is where we are now. We're hoping the weather will cooperate and give us more good climbing days, but we can't complain about a few forced rest days to see Paris and some other sites.

We have more Paris pictures but they are taking for ever to upload so we're going to try later. Here's a few that we were able to upload http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewandcassie/sets/72157627580104407/

and some from bouldering

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mojo Slideshow

Here's a post with a slideshow of Mojo sleeping, freezing, swimming etc. We're going to miss the big lug while we are abroad in Europe. He's staying with Cassie's parents while we are gone. 3 more days until we leave for Paris!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Olympic National Park

 We spent our last weekend at Squamish and left on Sunday morning. It was time to go as arms and fingers were starting to  hurt. Our list of projects still remains strong and we're hoping to make it back there someday after the trip is finished. After leaving Squamish we headed straight to Olympic National Park via the west side of Washington (to avoid Seattle) we hopped a ferry from Keystone to Port Townsend for about $25. It was a beautiful day out and we enjoyed getting closer to Sol Duc Hot Springs without driving.

Last hike at Squamish

Port Townsend Ferry

Sol Doc is a great little hot springs resort tucked into the center of Olympic Park. It has a few pools at different temperatures and a larger swimming pool. Last Christmas Cassie's parents (leo and dottie) got us a great Christmas present of a gift certificate that we could use for a couple of different resorts at Olympic including the hot springs. We made great use of it by camping within walking distance of the springs and using the gift for great dinners. We have only eaten out a few times on the trip so it was a special treat. The springs are really relaxing and we made the most out of our day-pass by soaking 3 different times. It was a very relaxing day. The weather (though part of the park is a rainforest) was excellent and we continued to be amazed by the warm dry days. We left after 2 nights at Sol Duc. On the way out we hiked to Sol Duc falls, and watched salmon coming up a lower section of the river. Really special place to see. 


Sol Duc Falls

 From Sol Duc we headed to the Pacific coast. We camped at South Beach right next to the beach and went for walks to tidepools. Once Cassie was walking mojo and got surprised by a freak wave. I got a great action sequence of them both running away from the wave, unfortunately mojo didn't quite make it and got soaked. It wasn't quite as dangerous of a beach as a sign indicated it could be. Though the danger might be real we had a surprisingly relaxing time given that we should have been fearing for our lives...


Running from a wave


filtered sunlight
Cassie's birthday was on the 30th and we spent it having dinner at Kalaloch lodge and walking on the beach to watch the sun set. It was an outstanding meal and sunset.

Birthday Sunset
This labor day weekend we had been planning to do a backpack with Paul (our friend from Seattle) so we headed to Portland Oregon to stay with Cassie's parents and get organized. Mojo and I will be staying here at Cassie's parents house getting some projects done on the van while Cassie goes out on the backpack. But, fear not, though I will miss spending time with Paul there are other things coming to look forward to. Such as EUROPE!!!

We leave for Europe on Sept 13th and return December 14th. We fly into Paris and currently are planning to head straight to Fontainebleau (a humongous bouldering area) which is about an hour outside of the city. After that who knows what we'll be up to since the whole trip is still a work in progress.

So, we may not be posting much for the next 2 weeks or so, but expect a post from Europe as soon as we are able. 



Sunset on the Pacific Ocean