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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Font a Bloc - Jacky Godoffe

Review by Ned Feehally
Friday 7th January 2011

 

A New Font guide? Written by Jacky Godoffe? Wow this must be good.

 

On initial inspection the guide is a lovely piece of work, full colour and full of photos. It is part of a 3 book series that will cover the whole of Fontainebleau. This first edition covers areas near the city of Fontainebleau itself, which includes many of the most popular areas (Cuvier, Apremont, Isitis etc.)  The guide isn't definitive, but includes selected problems from Font 6a up to Font 8c.

Font a Bloc Review - planetFear

 

Physically the guidebook is a good size, and easy to flick through, although maybe a bit too big to survive being beaten up in your climbing bag? On the whole the photographs that have been used are very good, although they do tend to focus on the more famous problems. It is nice when a guidebook contains photos of less well known, but good quality problems as it provides an incentive to go exploring rather than staying on the beaten track. My one major gripe with the photos is the front cover, it just isn't an inspiring cover shot - it shows someone topping out on a non-descript snowy slab. In my opinion the cover should really capture the feel of Font, a good example of this is the moody photo of Angle Parfait on the front of the old purple "Fontainebleau climbs" guide. Class.

 

Another issue is that the maps of the climbing areas are sometimes a little muddled. The road maps are accurate and clear but the maps of the boulders themselves are sometimes confusing. For instance one map has North at the top of the page, while the map on the next page (showing another part of the same area) has North at the bottom of the page. Although this is not a major problem, it can make the book frustrating and clumsy to use.

A preview of the guidebook can be found here and is powered by Issuu

 

In addition there are a few errors in the topos/descriptions i.e. sometimes a boulder problem is described, but the line on the topo doesn't match the description (for example, "traverse left to exit", but line goes straight up). Also some problems are given the wrong name, or even described as being on the wrong boulder altogether. Although these mistakes are few and far between, it seems a little lazy that the editing didn't pick up on them. After all Jacky Goddoffe is one of the pioneers of Font so should know the problems in infinite detail. It is a shame to see that the latest guide book contains errors that had been ironed out of previous guide books years ago.

 

One of the best features of this book is the use of photo topos, although this makes it quite big relative to the information it contains, it's a great way to help you choose which problems to try. Normally you must make do with a drawing of a boulder and a description of the problem, but with this book you can actually see the line and the features that it climbs.

 

On the whole it is a nice guide book containing a good selection of problems and inspiring photographs, however I would not recommend it as the only guidebook you take to Font. In combination with the 7s and 8s or the classic "purple" Fontainebleau Climbs guide this book would work well and provide additional information. However as a stand alone guide I think it would lead you to confusion, rather than the world class boulders.

 

One final note, this guidebook is meant to be part 1 of a 3 part series, meaning there is room for improvement of the next 2 books, however it does mean that you will be spending a lot of money on 3 separate books to cover what is included in all the other individual books (albeit in less detail). 

 

By  no means a bad publication, but it contains many more errors than one would expect from a guidebook to the best bouldering area in the world, written by one of its best climbers. 

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