History

The « Rempart », or rather the « Cuvier-Rempart », is an emblematic massif in the forest of Fontainebleau for many reasons. For more than a century, it has been progressively marked by climbing history.

At first, this area allowed famous alpinists to practice and to achieve posterity by opening routes, which now have become as legendary as classic alpine races.

In 1908, Jacques Wehrlin opened the “fissure Wehrlin” on the right of “Carré d’as”, a route still graded 3 today. Wehrlin, the brothers Leininger, the brothers De Lépiney, Chevalier, Paillon, Prestat, then Pierre Allain and Robert Paragot…the list is long! As many names who used the rubber of their “grosses” and then the one of their climbing shoes, an invention brought by the amazing Pierre Allain between 1938 and 1945 at Le Rempart. The legend says that he would have implemented his first climbing shoe prototype while opening “l’Angle Allain”, a pure problem with foot holds almost nonexistent. The climbers’ passion for bouldering was not yet born that “Bleau” was already promising to be “the laboratory” of the discipline.

In 1947, Fred Bernick opened at Le Rempart the first climbing path. The stamina required by this path is close to the one of a mountain race, which allows Parisians alpinists to train before their ascents in the Alps. In 1953, Paul Jouy opened the “Carré d’As”, an exposed 6c at Le Rempart. The same year, the first 7a is opened by the famous Robert Paragot with “La Joker” at Bas-Cuvier. The 60s and the 70s will brought more and more climbers approaching the 7th grade. It will be the golden age in the development of hard problems at Cuvier.

Let’s jump to the 80s. These years were mostly dedicated to the Rempart and some of the most famous difficult problems were born during this period. In 1984, the visionary Jacky Godoffe opened “Big Boss”, a 7b+ overhanging crack line. The same year, he opened “C’était demain”, a problem which will remain the first 8a in bouldering history. Big Boss, Fourmis Rouges, Tristesse and later Big Golden and Atrésie will became the “Big Five”, 5 problems for vertiginous ascents! They are beautiful, high and hard, showing the whole meaning of the word “massif”. These problems were sent an uncountable number of times and will keep making climbers dream! In 1993, Jacky stroke again by opening “Fatman”, the first 8b in bouldering, a problem who was unfortunately deliberately damaged. Today, the right problems of this boulder, “Gourmandise” and “The Traphouse”, are privileged.

The beginning of the 21st century is marked by the ascent of intense problems, such as “Kheops assis”, “Supertanker”, “Le dernier fléau” and some more. Therefore, it has been common to see famous climbers from all over the world coming to try these legends. However, it would be a shame to reduce le Rempart only to these famous problems. Nowadays, this area offers more than 30 problems, not included in a climbing path, in the 8th grade, more than 170 in the 7th grade and more than 280 from 4 to 6a, in addition to 3 unmissable climbing paths. The first one is the red one “AD-“ (meaning quite difficult) including 18 problems united in this path in 1947. Then the yellow one “D” (difficult) with 13 problems and the black one “ED-“ (extremely difficult) with 47 problems. Getting through those climbing paths means connecting to the bouldering History. To conclude, we can say that the nature at Le Rempart was generous to climbing lovers. This is why this area remains a magical must-see for climbers, whatever their levels.

Historically, the mountains grades were letters: F for Facile (Easy), D for Difficile (Diffcult), ABO for Abominable. You can still find this grading system in old Fontainebleau guidebooks.

Today, the numbered system is the most used in bouldering and sport climbing. It starts at 3 to finish at 9. Each number is a group of levels distinguished by a letter and even a +. For example, in the 6th grade, from the easiest level to the hardest one, you will find 6a, 6b 6c, for which you can add a + to create more intermediary levels: 6a, 6a+, 6b, 6b+, 6c, 6c+.

However, if climbing quickly in the 5th grade in sport climbing is generally easy for a beginner, in Fontainebleau the 5th grade is already the level of experienced climbers.

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