Fontainebleau and sandstone climbing etiquette

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Fontainebleau bouldering: Preserve nature, respect rock & climbers. Uphold ethics for sustainable climbing.
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Fontainebleau Bouldering: Etiquette and Ethics

Exploring the outdoor climbing scene in Fontainebleau entails more than just scaling rocks; it involves a commitment to preserving the environment, respecting fellow climbers, and safeguarding the integrity of the area. With millions of visitors flocking to Fontainebleau Forest annually, every action, no matter how small, holds significance in maintaining the beauty and accessibility of this renowned destination.

As dedicated bouldering guides and coaches, my partner Sam and I prioritise imparting essential practices and values to our fellow climbers. Drawing from our experiences and insights gleaned from, we outline below key recommendations to uphold ethical conduct while enjoying Fontainebleau's breathtaking landscapes:

Honouring the Environment

  1. Leave No Trace: Ensure the forest remains pristine by carrying out all waste, including personal items like toilet paper, fruit peels, and cigarette butts. Responsible disposal is paramount, even extending to tidying up after others.
  2. Mindful Toilet Practices: With no public facilities available, plan restroom breaks beforehand. If nature calls during your climb, bury waste properly and refrain from toileting near climbing sites. Non-biodegradable waste should be packed out.
  3. Fire Safety: Strictly adhere to the no-fire policy, especially during dry seasons when forest fire risks are heightened. Cigarette disposal demands equal vigilance to prevent potential hazards.
  4. Respect Trail Guidelines: Stick to designated paths to minimise ecological impact, particularly within sensitive areas like the 'Réserves Biologique Intégrales.'
  5. Night Climbing Discretion: Avoid climbing at night to mitigate disturbances to local wildlife, respecting their natural habitats.
  6. Campsite Protocol: Overnight stays in the forest are prohibited, including tent setups in parking areas. Opt for designated bivouac spots for camping within the forest confines.
  7. Preservation of Flora: Refrain from damaging trees and vegetation, which not only detracts from the natural beauty but also violates forest management regulations.
  8. Pad Mobility: Handle bouldering pads with care to prevent further ground erosion, lifting rather than dragging them.
  9. Eco-Friendly Transportation: Embrace carpooling to reduce carbon emissions, alleviate parking congestion, and foster a sustainable climbing community.

Respecting the Rock

  1. Shoe Cleanliness: Maintain rock integrity by thoroughly cleaning shoe soles before climbing to prevent sand-induced polishing and preserve foothold quality.
  2. Weather Awareness: Exercise patience during inclement weather, allowing rocks to fully dry to prevent potential damage to sandstone formations.
  3. Chalk Application: Apply chalk sparingly and remove excess residue post-climb with soft brushes to uphold the natural aesthetic of the rock.
  4. Brushing Techniques: Employ gentle brushing techniques using soft brushes, refraining from over-brushing or using wire brushes that could compromise hold integrity.

Honoring Fellow Climbers

  1. Parking Courtesy: Avoid obstructing access points, ensuring emergency services and forestry personnel can navigate freely at all times.
  2. Pet Etiquette: Keep pets under control to prevent wildlife disturbances and respect fellow climbers' space and comfort.
  3. Social Interaction: Foster a welcoming atmosphere by engaging politely with locals, fellow climbers, and visitors, embracing cultural greetings and courteous behavior.
  4. Noise Consideration: Maintain tranquility by refraining from excessive noise, including music, which can disrupt both climbers and local wildlife.
  5. Crag Courtesy: Keep communal spaces tidy and minimise disruptions, respecting others' climbing experiences.
  6. Spotting Etiquette: Prioritise communication and consent when spotting fellow climbers, respecting individual preferences and boundaries.

Your commitment to observing these guidelines ensures a harmonious climbing environment for all and contributes to the preservation of Fontainebleau's natural splendor. For additional resources and information, please refer to and other recommended sources.

Thank you for embracing responsible climbing practices and joining us in safeguarding Fontainebleau's unparalleled beauty. Together, let's uphold the ethos of good stewardship and camaraderie in our climbing community.

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April 23, 2024
First published:
April 23, 2024