Path Of Solitude

Path Of Solitude
The author on Da Capo, Go Pro Still

The author on Da Capo, Go Pro Still

I’m a hunter. I’m a digger. I like to search for the elusive, perfect boulders that exist only so long as we climb them. Then I hunt for next one. But that's the idea, to keep looking, to keep hunting. I wake up early. I can’t really sleep long when I’m in place like Font. Too many good things to try, to see, to climb. So I get up, drink coffee, eat breakfast and scroll on and over 7+8 guidebook. Then I go out. To find next thing.

I don’t really feel like going to the same old sectors over and over again. Don’t get me wrong; Bas Cuvier is popular for a reason. But for me it's like that James Brown sample that everybody is using and abusing; there's a whole world of obscure records which are as good as that funky drummer loop. You just have to go out and dig them out. That’s how it is around here. Bloc after bloc, sector after sector. Keep digging, because you never know when you’ll find another classic.

I’ve been visiting Fontainebleau for almost twenty years now. I came here for the first time in middle of the summer in 1999 still a kid, fresh from high school. I’ve been here in middle of the winter, sitting on my ass for one month in the gite, patiently waiting for things to dry. I’ve been with good friends, with ex friends, with a van full of people, with my girlfriend. This time though I’m here alone—which is kind of the best. I have time to do what I want, to check everything I have wanted to check for a long time. The most obscure lines, the forgotten sectors, the lonely stars further from the road. I have my own rhythm and I cruise around La Foret on empty roads, through next roundabout, Roc Marciano bumpin' loud on my speakers. 

Now I'm heading to a boulder, Da Capo. I have a soft spot for a good prow and this one is as good as it gets. So I’m carrying all my pads and gear through over-crowded Elephant, a little further into the solitude of the eastern part of the sector. Only a couple of hundred meters away from the crowd, here I’m all alone. Not a soul around except few birds. And the sound of wind high up in the pines. I throw rope over the top to abb down and clean and chalk the holds. It looks like it's not been climbed for a long time.  Local hero and legend Julien Nadiras climbed this one in the 2000s and for me it's one of the best lines in the forest.

I hang on a rope, playing around a little with positions, trying to get a feeling for holds, footholds and all other subtleties which makes 'Bleau climbing so special. Back on the ground. Eating my pain au chocolat. Wondering whether I’ll make attempt today or not. That thing is a pretty spicy one—with the technical crux on top.

I have a long list of problems I want to climb in Font. Some are well known, some are unknown, some are hard and some are just beautiful. This year Da Capo is top of my list. If I climb just this one, it was worth the fourteen-hour drive alone from Slovenia through Austria, Germany and half of France.

The sun is creeping through trees and the northern breeze is picking up. Maybe today is the day? Maybe I should just go for it? But what if my left foot slips from that tiny sloppy foothold while my right heel is squeezing the rounded arete? What if I land sideways from four, five meters down? All these thoughts. I take a short walk to cool my mind. I’m scared. I’m here alone.

I walk back, rearrange my pads a little, sit down and spit on my climbing shoes and give them a good rub until the rubber is squeaking under my fingers. Slowly I’m chalking my hands, trying to block all the reasonable thoughts in my head. Why I shouldn't go up now? I took a deep breath and shut down my fear. I’m ready. I’m good to go. Silence. I grab start holds and I'm off the ground. I’m in the zone. One of those rare moments that we always search in climbing but so seldom find. But today is the day. I climb precisely and peacefully and my body seems to know exactly what to do. I float up and BOOM! Before I know it, I’m holding the last jug with my left hand and realise that I climbed the damn thing! I let out a scream of joy and then another one of relief!

When I tried it on my first day here it felt impossible, too scary and high to do it on my own. Then I kinda forgot about it for a week, climbing lots of other stuff, feeling that it’ll have to wait for some other time. And now I did it. I climbed it! I’m so happy and just sit on top enjoying the moment, smiling, deeply satisfied with myself.

Slowly I get down from the bloc and pack my gear. Before I start walking back to the car I take a rope and rappel down once again to clean off the chalk and tickmarks. I don’t want to leave it like that and also it’s a way to say goodbye to the boulder. You’ve been good to me. You didn’t chew me up and spit me off. Thank you, you magnificent piece of rock.

I crawl back to the parking lot with big grin on my face. Now it’s time for some Thelonius Monk and few beers and a burger to celebrate a little before I go hunt for something new tomorrow. I heard there’s that beautiful orange slab somewhere between Milly-la-Foret and Noisy-sur-Ecole that I really need to check it out. And so the circle goes on until my days here are over and I’ll have to pack things and head back home, with few lines crossed and lots of new ones added on my never-ending, ever-growing list. I have visited quite a few spots around the world and I love many of them for various reasons, but after all these years, Fontainebleau is still my favorite place to go bouldering. Until next time, au revoir!


Climber and developer based in Ajdovscina, Slovenia