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Bleau de grès 6

Order now for € 19,85 excluding shipping costs!

Since the highly successful 'purple selection guide' published in 1999 by Jo Montchaussé and Jacky Godoffe, the trend has moved away from area specific Font topos to guides targeting specific climbing 'audiences' (with the only exception being the Cuvier map by Jo Montchaussé). This makes perfectly sense, as climbers are not confined to a specific area within the Fontainebleau region, but are more interested in knowing what problems are interesting to them. The first and trendsetter of those guides was '7 + 8 : 1115 straight-ups in Fontainebleau' by Bart van Raaij, shortly followed by 'Bleau, Jardin Public' by Sébastien Frigault & Jean-Jacques Naëls (the latter dealing with both straight-ups and traverses in the 7th and 8th grade).

Although 7th and 8th grade boulder problems are more 'newsworthy' than lower grade problems, most of us don't climb at those high levels. So it is very logical that Jean-Jacques Naëls, who is certainly the number one developer of circuits (both in the forest as well as in print), has published a guide targeting the lower levels. This guide, which is written together with his wife Dominique, is now available under the name 'Bleau De Grès Six' (the title contains a word joke, something the French seem to be fond of...). Although the title of the guide only contains the number 6, in reality a quarter to a third of the described problems is in the 5th grade.

The basis for 'Bleau De Grès 6' is formed by the circuits with a difficulty of TD or higher (i.e., the red and more difficult circuits). The treatment of those circuits takes up slightly more than half the guidebook. Even though not all of those circuits are described completely, the guide is pretty exhaustive with respect to this category of boulder circuits. A close examination reveals that less than a handful of circuits in that range is not described in the book, and those absent circuits lie in remote unpopular areas. Less than a handful of ED+ circuits is absent as well, because those circuits contain mainly 7th grade problems. Jean-Jacques Naëls redraw / changed about ten circuits during his research for this guidebook, which makes many of the older topos obsolete.

The previous publication by Jean-Jacques Naëls, 'Bleau, Jardin Public', faces stiff competition from the '7 + 8' guide targeting the same audience. The reason is the somewhat lesser quality of the maps and the photography, and the use of colours that doesn't help in the overall legibility of that guide. Clearly Jean-Jacques and Dominique have learned from that experience, because this new 'Bleau De Grès 6' guide has been improved considerably in those areas. The use of colours has been left behind, which improves the legibility of the topos a lot. The photography and the layout are also better, making it a far more inspiring guidebook.

'Bleau De Grès 6' is very clear and consequent: the character of a group of areas is described together with an overview map. Subsequently each of those areas is dealt with in detail, with a topo on the left page of a spread, and on the right page a table with a circuit and / or boulders outside the circuits. It is very remarkable how many boulder names the authors have been able to retrieve (although many names are not given to their full extent). Like any new guide, some boulder gradings have been adapted. Jean-Jacques Naëls is not one of those who like the 'modern' soft grading of new problems. Many of the 'easy' 7th grade boulders are listed as 6c+, 6c or even 6b (with the approval of the experts...). On the other hand, many 4th and 5th grade boulders have been upgraded. This seems to be correct, as many of those problems were graded unrealistically hard in the past.

Because 'Bleau De Grès 6' is so exhaustive in the treatment of TD and more difficult circuits, many areas are covered that aren't published elsewhere. This is the first overview guide with topos of the north-eastern areas Maincourt, Mondeville, Sangliers and les Rochers aux Dames, and the first one since 1986 with a topo of the 5th & 6th grade problems at les Videlles. None of the other available guidebooks have a topo of Chamarande, or a topo with 5th & 6th grade problems at Coquibus. On top of that, the guide describes lesser-known problems in the popular areas as well. So, even though not all topo maps are very precise (some of them lack for instance an arrow pointing to the north) and some listed problems cannot be found in the topo maps, this guidebook is very valuable for anyone who wants to explore 'middle grade' boulder problems in Fontainebleau. It should also help climbers to avoid overpopulated well-known areas, and discover great problems in more quiet settings.

The number of people that should be interested in this guidebook must be huge, as it is a concise topo for a larger 'audience' than the 7th / 8th grade topo guides. Nevertheless, in the preamble, the authors raise they question why they should publish a new topo in this internet age, in which information about the boulder problems in Fontainebleau is available in abundance. The authors are also afraid that such a topo is a source of 'inspiration' for the other media reporting on Fontainebleau, because they have done the groundwork to discover a lot of boulders not reported elsewhere. However, it is of course much more fun and inspiring to climb around in the forest with such a guidebook, than with printouts of a website. Maybe the authors didn't have that much confidence, because only 1,200 copies of 'Bleau De Grès 6' have been printed! We therefore expect that the guidebook will sell out rapidly.

Unfortunately for non-French readers, 'Bleau De Grès 6' is completely in French. However, the maps and boulder names & descriptions are self-explaining, and there isn't much other text anyhow. However, for English readers we have received an introduction and explanation of the keys from the authors in PDF and HTML format. We conclude to thank Jean-Jacques Naëls and his wife for their work on this new guidebook, and of course for all the work done in the past in the development of the world's largest bouldering mecca!

Order now for € 19,85 excluding shipping costs!

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Order now for € 19,85 excluding shipping costs!