It’s a big big world

When you really think about it, the world we live in is pretty big. Really big. Before I became a proud father of baby girl Alice I didn’t realize how fragile we all are, and how enormously big the world is. But, at the same time, it’s very small. Alice doesn’t care, or even take notice, if we go climbing in Fontainebleau in France or if we just go down the road to the nearest playground. Her world is confined to the space we give her. It’s pretty cool when you think about it, isn’t?

Steep Camp in Chamonix

Together with freelance writer Magnus Wistrom I joined Miles and Liz Smart at Smart Mountain Guides for a few days at their annual Steep Camp in Mount Blanc mountain range. A steep camp with the Smarts means steep skiing. I consider myself a solid off piste skier but on a few occasion during the camp the steepness of the colouir’s just touched the peak of my ability.

Aiguille du Midi, France.

Very crouded from the top station at Aiguille du Midi:

The top station at Aiguille du Midi.

Looking down at the glaciar Vallee Blanch:

 

The S-couloir at Aiguille du Midi, France.

The S-couloir up at Aiguille du Midi offered a full day of great adventure and steep skiing. Easy accessible from the top station at the Aiguille du Midi, the couloir is reached via a short traverse followed by a 40 meter vertical rappel down to a ledge that connects to the couloir.

The route we followed.

Even though you are very close to the top station, the environment feels a bit exposed
indeed. According to our guide Miles Smart the S-couloir is usually only skied a handful times each year. When Magnus asked him to point out the descent in the guide book later that same night, Miles reply put a smile on Magnus’s face:

- It’s not in this book, it’s in the climbing guide book…

The exit tunnel up at the top station:

The ridge leading to the rapell:

A few climbers we met, they were going up, we headed down…

Magnus can’t believe his eyes, or goggles. He survived the rappel…

The S-couloir is about 200 meters tall couloir, where the top part is around 52 degrees before it levels out down at the glacier Vallee Blanch. Very steep for us, no doubt about it. It’s no place to loose balance and tip over…

Happy to reach the cabin where the last sunlight in the valley hits you.

 

Courmayeur, Italy.

Back in Courmayeur again, on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif.

I have been to France many times but have always felt I had yet to discover the world famous French cuisine. And now, finally, the tastes, spicies and enjoyment of the French kitchen lived up the its reputation. We were in for a culinary treat! I might be a bit biased here though, since several of the restuarants we visited were run be Swedes! :-)

An article will be in print in Brant next winter, stay tuned.

Bouldering in Fontainebleau, France

Once again I headed down to more southern latitudes for some more world class bouldering. Last trip in March got me in love with the thickly forrests around the small city of Fontainebleau, just south of Paris. Fontainebleau is truly magical; thousands of top quality boulders in a beatiful setting. This time we stayd in a gite in another nice little village called Boutigny-sur-Essonne, located a little west of the major bouldering areas.

Magnus Palmestål on the dazzling problem El Poussif 7A+:

We’ve heard of a brilliant problem called La Baleine 7A+ in the area Petit Bois. Even with a GPS we spent close to an hour finding the parking for this small place. Surprisingly the area turned out to be packed with swedes that we know a bit from home. We had a nice, friendly few hours there before we took of to Bas Cuvier. However, we did find La Baleine and quickly sent it, and what a nice problem it was. Recommended! Here’s an american strong girl trying it:

Again, the area Franchard Cuisiniere was in the end one of the favorite areas. At the end of the day we found a really nice, sharp arete which offered a perfect backlight photo scene:

After a long day out climbing hard, you need to treat yourself with a taste of the french cuisine:

Our local security force consisted of the sturdy german shepherd Elsa. One evening when I was leaving the gite she scared the shit out of me when I opened the door to step outside. There she was, only a foot in front of me, like the muscles from Brussels… I jumped, and
so did she! Then she wagged the tail and wanted to play with the ball as usual…

The approach to the area of Apremont:

And last but not least: remember, you are never alone in the woods…

Fontainebleau, France

I went to Fontainebleau, just outside of Paris, to do a feature story about the bouldering here for the magazine Brant. You will find it in print in the fall.

In the forrests around the picturesque village of Fontainebleau in France loooms many bouldering areas, mostly known as Font. This is the birthplace for modern bouldering, and people come here year round from all over the world. This was my first trip here, and it just blew me. Amazing. Fantastic.

A typical Font face:

Many royalties have spent considerable time at the huge castle Chateau de Fontainebleau.

The small villages surrounding Fontainebleau are weekend destinations for wealthy Parisians. Driving through the village of Burron Marlotte, you’ll see many mansions like this:

Peter Schön on a 7B with a really sloopy top-out:

Talking about sloopy top-outs, here Erik Heyman shows you what you’ll most likely face if you go climbing in Font:

When we go to the area Franchard Isatis, my friends were extremely close to convince me that I could easily warn up on a nice looking problem they pointed at. Their poker faces weren’t good enough though. The problem they had in mind turned out to be one of the classic really hard ones in Font; Karma 8A+. Here is the dutch climber Enzo Nahumury on Karma:

However, you can definetely find any kind of climbing you like in Font, not only slopers. Excellent dynos, slabs, technical aretes, power-problems…

Muscles ache, the skin is thin and the energy is below the red mark. The day is over.

How many pain chocolat can you eat during a rest day?