By Greg Haverstock 
greg@bouldering.com
 
June 2000

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Need the facts? Julie Dejesus provides some 
beta for future Font visitors.

 

 

 

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The world’s premier sandstone bouldering area lies just outside the French town of Fontainebleau. Few bouldering destinations can match Fountainebleu’s climbing diversity, its superb rock quality, or its sheer size. The area's rich history can be traced back nearly one hundred and fifteen years and is still evolving. 

Over this time, the locals and their visiting comrades developed and refined the art of bouldering. One unique innovation to Fontainebleau was the establishment of enumerated bouldering circuits.

In 1947, Fred Bernick developed the first bouldering circuit in the forest. Located at the Bas Cuvier massif, the circuit linked over forty problems. Bernick’s idea used circuiting as a means of training for alpine routes. He designated circuit problems by painting tiny (not exactly eco-friendly), numbered arrows on the rock. His approach proved popular. He then used other symbols to further define the circuit problem. Small one-inch dots designate the official starting footholds. Rectangular bars denote off-route inviting holds. On many face problems there’s a directional arrow and the tail is bent to form a “dogleg”. This indicates the problem’s proper direction of travel if it is not merely straight up from the start. After topping out many will be pleasantly surprised to find the descent route clearly marked, sometimes with multiple arrows. Following the suggested descent route is not only the easiest way off, but also deposits the climber at the base of the next problem in sequence.

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