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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Fontainebleau Coaching Week

By Dan Bradley | 07, Mar, 2011

Dan Bradley runs a bouldering coaching week in Fontainbleau

Luke Tilley on Arabesque 7b+ Cul de Chien

So the annual trip to the bouldering Mecca Font has happened once again, on February 19th 12 young climbers and 8 Jurassics (older than young) hit the road in a van (boulder mat carrier), minibus (carrier of people) and a car (team doctor and photographer).

Before any trip to Font like this I never look at the weather, I don’t dare to, we just need to get there and deal with whatever is thrown our way. In this case we had a couple of showery days, one day which was very poor but Team Awesome went for a nice long run then a slack lining session over the river outside the Gite. The last two days though was good weather, just in time for Team Crush to get some crushing done!

People were more psyched than ever and most of them had been the previous year, some had also come the year before so they were getting to know their way around the boulders pretty well. Their skin was looking relatively good as the previous few days had not been great conditions.


Gracie Martin and Luke Tilley

An enthused Gracie Martin takes up the story…
Font was AMAZING and I would not change anything that happened whilst we were there for the world!!!!!!!!!!!!  Climbing outside doesn’t compare to climbing on plastic so it awesome to have 5 days on real rock!  We went to a different area everyday and so got to see lots of different places.  My aim was to tick a 7a but as I found yet again the Fontainbleau grading system is not what you’d call precise, as one day I couldn’t even start a 4b!!  However I was really pleased with my ascent of the Mary Rose and I also enjoyed trying lots of very hard problems including La Arabesque and Carnage.  It was great to watch the stronger people climb and see how it’s really done.  Lunch was always very tasty as Naomi and I created a new type of sandwich which consisted of cheese, crisps, nutella and milka chocolate!!  They probably had enough calories in to account for our total daily intake!!!  The gang of people I went with were sooooooo brilliant, we had loads of laughs and I think Ben has been scarred for life by our singing!!  I’d like to say a big thank you to my Mum for letting Dad and I go, as I know she’s going to have to put up with stories from the trip for months to come!  I would also like to say a massive thank you to Dan for organising such an awesome trip, and I hope we can go again!!!!


Naomi Tilley and Edd Mowbray

Tom Bonnert got more than he bargained for when the rock fought back landing him in hospital…
It was nice to be outside and having a break from all the training. I really enjoy the training and pushing myself to the limit to get stronger and better at my climbing. However its always good to have a break and chill out with your mates at an amazing place like Fontainebleau. There’s so many problems to choose from and you don’t have to wait for them to be reset. Some of the problems are not always easy to find so its worth taking something to help. Get a Dan Bradley. Another part of advice is to not take the grades to seriously. Particularly on the easier circuits. Even after the climbing has finished it is such a laid back atmosphere and everyone was having such a great time.
My most memorable moment is Le Toit du Cul de Chien. Amazing moves and it took me quite a while to get and when I did get it is was really psyched. I also managed to get at least a 7a every day which included two 7a+ s and two 7a’s. And lastly the trip to the French hospital will always be a memorable experience.
The accommodation was in a fantastic old water mill with excellent food cooked by Dan and his assistants. And I particularly appreciated and enjoyed my no egg birthday cake cooked by Naomi and Gracie. It was awesome. Thanks a lot to Dan for organising the whole trip. Thanks to the the drivers of the mini van which were Kent, Mark and Roger. Thank you to everyone for making the trip even more amazing. And lastly a big thank you must go to the Alpkit guys for letting us use their boulder mats. (Which turned out very successful in Wayne’s massive fall) Without the mats the trip would have been a lot more difficult so we really appreciated that. That’s it and look forward to next year :D


Billy Ridal

Billy Ridal was with us last year and keen to get some 7a ticks this time round…
For me the font trip was a great success down to good planning, great cooks and an altogether nice group of people. Font is a very different style of climbing to any indoor walls I have been to and in my opinion it is far better. I have to admit that even though I did get a few 7a ticks that I had been aiming for my two most memorable moments were; firstly making a giant tower out of Jenga bricks, and secondly, the slack line over the river, which although it was immensely cold and I failed completely, watching Ben fall in made my day. Finally I would like to say thanks to Dan for doing the cooking every night and organising the whole trip.


Flo Tilley and Tom Bonnert

One newcomer to Font was Naomi Tilley, just one of 4 Tilleys on the trip!...
This was my first trip to font and it was… Amazing! I had one aim; I wanted to make my fingers bleed, to really be at one with the rock. I succeeded within the first day! I normally prefer steeper, more powerful problems but this week, I fell for the slabs. I loved the sketchiness of them and the relief when you top out. It defiantly is a whole other world to indoor plastic. The best bit of the trip….. It would defiantly have to be the epic sandwiches, made by myself and Gracie! The most enlightening moment would be, sitting on the “naughty” table with Dan, Ben and Paul. And the most entertaining would be story time, a daily hour or so of Flo, Sarah and Gracie reading 127 hours to Dan. Oh, and the climbing was good too!


Sarah Pashley and Mr Dan Bradley

It was also the first time for Will Smith. Will went expecting a lot, and didn’t come away dissapointed…
This was my first trip to font, I had heard a lot of good things about the climbing there and it definitely lived up to my expectations. The number of amazing boulders and awesome looking lines is unbelievable and I am left with so much more to go back and do. I found it was easy to get sucked in to one problem and spend all day on it so I tried to limit how long I spent on each problem but it was hard to resist another go! I’m looking forward to going back to finish off stuff and find more inspiring problems. On the non climbing side of things, the gîte was amazing and the food even better. A huge thanks to Dan for the cooking and of course for organizing it all,  thanks to all the parents that helped, thanks to Alpkit for sponsoring the trip and letting us borrow their awesome mats and thanks to everyone for making it a really enjoyable trip smile


Flo Tilley escapes her sandwich to climb

I would just like to say a massive thank you everyone that came, Derrick Bolger aka the Bleausard who can be located all too often in the forest of Font secretly kicking peoples ass. Mike “the psych” Mowbray for being team Doctor and just generally being so motivated and awesome, and Paul Philips for taking all the shots including this bonus video of Ben Meakin on Kift.

Thanks to everyone for helping out, it all makes a difference and makes my life much easier. Thanks for reading my book to me, you know who you are, it normally take me years to read a book and keep the concentration!

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