Font A Bloc - Jacky Godoffe
Yet another guide to Font you groan? Well bear with me for just a minute as this one’s not half bad and offers a slightly different approach. First of all let’s get the cover photo out of the way. It’s rubbish. It’s not a bad photo, but it conveys all the wrong messages to me about Font. OK, it shows somebody having fun, but Font is all about subtlety and beauty whereas this photo is brash and ugly (he’s got a tree sticking up his arse for goodness sake!). Rant over. Why’s this different from the other dozen or so guides to Font? For a start it’s been written by Jacky Godoffe, the ultimate guru to the area, a true Fontainebleau Jedi Master. Jacky has spent a good part of his life climbing in Font and his passion overflows into the book through each and every problem description. Unlike most guides it doesn’t show you thousands of problems on dozens of circuits, giving you a headache as you compare squiggly lines from different coloured circuits, trying to identify a common boulder. Instead it drills down to the point and describes, with an individual photograph and description, a collection of problems at each area, effectively giving you a focus for the day. The collection includes a range of grades so you can start off on the easiest and work your way upwards to whatever your level dictates. We found it to be perfect for those operating around the high 6s and low 7s. In some ways it is not dissimilar to the 7s and 8s guide, but the fact that it picks out many a classic 6b and 6c as well often makes for a much more enjoyable and satisfactory day than sticking to Bart’s bible. Jacky has also made sure that he’s chosen a few esoteric little numbers to take you off the beaten track. They are not all worthy of inclusion in such a book, but he gets it rightmost of the time.
The maps are OK, but not the best. We still carried the bible (7s and 8s) with us and whenever we weren’t sure somebody would chant ‘In Bart We Trust…’ and bring out our lifeline. And there are a few pages of whole circuits, there to help you orientate yourself. These pages are typically cluttered and somewhat simplified, but they suffice. Design-wise it isn’t exactly great, but it does the job and quickly became one of the stock guides that would accompany us each day along with Bart and Jacky’s other offering – Off Piste. The biggest downside is that this is only one of a planned trilogy of books to the forest so quite often we’d be en route to a chosen area only to find that it wasn’t covered. Carrying three of them around will be costly and heavy, but I suppose that’s the price we pay for loving the best and biggest bouldering area on the planet!