5 and 6 - 3975 straight ups in central and southern Fontainebleau
Just over a month ago I went to Font for our annual Easter pilgrimage. I contacted Bart Van Raaij a week or two before going to see how his latest project was coming along, a similar guide to his superb 7 & 8 books. He very kindly sent me a PDF of a section of the guide near where we were staying and asked for feedback. On arrival back home I sent him our groups feedback which was unanimously good, and wrote a few words about it on my website. A week or so late the real deal arrived in the post.
Wow. First thing you notice is that, whilst managing to keep the minimalist look, he has given it a huge facelift by giving it a cover photograph, adding a splash of colour, and most importantly, adding colour photos and topos to the book itself. It’s a lovely thing.
So, as you would imaging, dropping down the grades from 7 and 8 to 5 and 6 means a massive increase in the number of problems to be detailed. As such this is just the first book of a pair, the other due out next year, and covering Northern and Western Fontainebleau. A single guide would have been too much to manage in one book. One can imagine it would have quickly fallen to bits under the strain of its own weight!
Once again the maps he’s created are second to none, this time even better thanks to the introduction of some colour. The topos are much easier to navigate than previously as the problems are colour coded – most of the blue and red circuit problems fall within the 5 and 6 grade range so it’s natural to colour the dots identifying individual problems. The accuracy of the layout of boulders is such that there is no need for individual photos or diagrams of the boulders to help you find problems, the painted numbers on the boulders cross reference perfectly with the book.
If I had a moan it would be that by moving to colour photos he has had to seriously thin down the number of them in the book. One of the joys of the 7 & 8 books is to peruse the photos and pick out problems you have done and would like to try. You can still do this, but not with so many. I guess space was also a premium. This volume alone weighs in at a mighty 320 pages compared with 290 for the second edition of the 7 & 8.
Practicality wise there is a ribbon for keeping your place. It has a robust plasticised cover like its predecessor (which has been well used over the last four or five years and shows little sign of wear). It’s in landscape format again – which lends itself well to laying out a topo on the left hand page and a list of problems with their respective details on the right.
If you have an Iphone there’s a fancy looking App for both the 5 & 6 and 7 & 8 ranges, but I have an Android so haven’t been able to test it yet.
I asked Bart where it is possible to get hold of the book and receveid the following answer:
My book is for sale in the (book)shops in and around Fontainebleau, the two major campsites and some gîtes. Also online in webshops from several countries:
It is retailing at £29.95 or 30 Euros (quite a difference!). Quite a chunk of money for a guidebook, but very good value for money I think, especially as there are no adverts in there other than the one on the back cover.