« Better than Font » : that was the title of an article dedicated to these boulders in French mag Grimper a few years ago. The ZeBloc team went there in August 2005 to give you our feelings about the area.
But first, I have to warn you : although the name of the rock is the same as that of the rock at Font (sandstone), the kind of climbing there is not the same. A multitude of variously sized holes impose athletic moves often harder for the small (this is one of the drawbacks of the area), and the crimps are rare. So, you’ll have to go there with strong abdominals and arms, whatever the level you climb at!
Another specific topic in Annot is the grading system. Grades range from B1 to B15 (see the table at the bottom of that page for the comparison to the Font grades), but you quickly get used to that system. Our point of view is that this is a good idea because it is simpler than the Font system, and the letter B can stand for Bloc or Bulder or Boulder or Bloque…
You may think that, as Annot is in the South of France, you can only climb there in winter. Wrong! In fact the boulders are located between 700 m (2300 ft) and 1500 m (5000 ft). We were there at the beginning of August and in the highest areas, it was cold enough to have good climbing sessions. Moreover, one can always find problems (with holes for example) where meteorological conditions don’t make a difference.
But now, let’s give you a short introduction to the different areas, taking into account that because of the hot weather and because we only spent one week there, we didn’t climb in the areas below the 10th turn and we didn’t climb all the problems above that 10th turn! We’ve only been climbing in 7 of the 30 existing areas (more than 1100 problems!).
Entrons maintenant dans le vif du sujet avec la présentation de quelques secteurs, sachant que, à cause de la chaleur, nous n’avons pas grimpé dans les secteurs en dessous de la 10° épingle et que, bien entendu, nous n’avons pas essayé tous les blocs… Nous n’avons grimpé que dans 7 des 30 secteurs existant (à ce jour, plus de 1100 blocs sont recensés dans le topo de Annotabloc).
Area very close to the car park, flat ground and magnificient problems between B6 and B9 : ideal for a family climbing session.
You must try Bacalauréat (B6), Bachotage (B6), Redoublage (B5), Madness (B6), One Step Beyond (B9).
The top of this area is made up with nice short problems with flat landings : again, good for a family climbing session. ‘Must-do’s are Sympa Tique (B6), Panzer Division (B7) and Conatif (B4).
The bottom part of the area is dedicated to hard bouldering with the famous Scary Movie (B8), Bernadette Subaru (B10) or Le 6 (B12).
Place des Cardeurs
Again, a very nice area with some magnificient problems : Si Tu Dérapes (B10), President Evil (B8), le N° 405 (B6), Citizen (B5) and Place des Cardeurs (B14), but we didn’t try that one!
This was one of our favorite areas : undoubtedly because of the beauty of the boulders and of the landscape… Depending on your skills, you won’t be able to resist trying Tendu Comme un String and Triple X (both B11 even if we found Triple X harder). You should also try N° 1048 (B6) and 1049 (B5)! We didn’t have a rope the day we went there, so we didn’t dare climb Le Front du Macaque (B11) or Feet Less (B12) but they look great.
Paf le Chien
Many boulders in this area. Do not miss Paf le Chien (B11), problem N° 742 (B6), Cartondulé (B8). But there might be many other problems to climb there (we didn’t spend as much time as we should have there…).
The landscape here is beautiful : some of the boulders stand near a big cliff. Don’t miss Panoramix (B8), only to be done for the landscape, and many other small boulders beside. Le Toit du Cul du Loup (B8 sitstart) is one of the problems no one should miss during a trip in that area.
The bottom part of this area is less interesting but, if you want to try a hard Font-like problem, try la Saison des Castagnes (B12).
SiThe landscape is nice but we didn’t enjoy the climbing here so much. However, as it is close to La Crête, it’s worth a visit for a few problems: La cage Aux Folles (the hardest Annot B4) and La Ruine (B10) or boulder N° 452 (B10).
You will find most of the information and the downloadable guide at the Annotabloc. website. We stayed in a studio flat of La Rouïe, which is the place to stay in order to get quickly to the different areas. It is more or less in the middle of the 10 km track that goes from the first to the last boulders. You can also put up your tent there and sample very good meals made by the owners. This place would be heaven if it was more kept up…
The recommendations to be followed are registered in the Annotabloc site and guide…
But it is useful to point out them here:
– The sandstone can be very fragile and it becomes even more brittle if it is scraped : do not use a wire brush on established boulder problems!!
– Considering the potential of boulders to be developed, let the « inconceivable » problems remain inconceivable : do not chip holds!
– Only park on the turns, as trucks use the track regularly.
– Wild camping is prohibited and do not make any fires!!!
– do not cut trees.
– do not demolish the stone walls under the boulders.
– the boulders are located on private property : thank you for remaining discrete.
– Especially do not collect mushrooms!!!
– Don’t leave any waste (as always).
– Locate the descent route off the boulders before climbing…
– Avoid climbing after the rain: the water makes the rock very easily damaged.
We don’t think Annot is better than Font : fewer problems, less variety, lot of morphological problems. But the potential here is huge, new problems are developed everyday, one can climb no matter the season, and there are by far fewer climbers than in Font. Lest’s say that the two areas are different and complementary. But for sure, Annot is one of the best bouldering areas!
Hereafter, you will find a small table showing the B system and Font gradse comparison.