Chamonix Ski Touring Week

Map

TrekTraka - Ski Chamonix
01 July 2014

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Tour Overview - Week Option

Day 1

Arrive into Chamonix and overnight at hotel.

 

Day 2

L’Aiguillette des Houches (2285m) – From the village of Coupeau, it is a gentle ascent through the forests that takes us up past Chalet de Chailloux.  Now, we are well above the tree line and the open slopes take us up to one of the best view points of the entire Chamonix valley.

Day 3

Col d’Argentière (3552m) – At the top, we are rewarded with amazing scenery of the Argentière basin with views of the summits of the Aiguille Verte, Les Droites, Mont Dolent and the Aiguille de Chardonnet.

Day 4

Crochue Bérard – Starting from the La Flegérè, we take a cable car and chairlift to l’Index.  Our first climb up to the Col des Crochues (2704m) is started on skins, before a final boot pack with skis on rucksacks up to the Col.  A long traverse descending into the Aiguille Rouges Nature Reserve takes us to our second 200m gentle climb on skins to the Col de Bérard (2469m).  All of our efforts are now rewarded with a stunning ski down the Combe de Bérard to the village of Le Buet.  From here, we take the train back to Chamonix.

Day 5

Col des Autannes (2777m) – From the Le Tour ski area, we have a climb of 650m up to the Col before a brilliant descent on North facing slopes that often hold very good powder snow. This takes us down to the village of Trient in Switzerland.  A bus and then train take us back to Chamonix.

Day 6

Vallée Blanche and Col d’Entrèves – Any ski trip to Chamonix wouldn’t be complete without a descent of the Vallée Blanche.  From the Aiguille du Midi, we ski down the classic Vallée Blanche to Pointe Adolphe Rey before putting our skins on and climbing for 2 hours up to the Col d’Entrèves on the Italian border.  Now it is time for our final run down the majestic Vallée Blanche, before heading back to Chamonix for a celebratory cold beer.

Day 7

Depart for home.

Tour Overview - Weekend Option

The Weekend Ski Tour option will take in two days of guided ski touring in the Chamonix area. Options are endless and a selection of our favourite ski touring areas is listed below in our Daily Guided Ski Touring Options for your information.  Your guide will suggest an itinerary based on your experience, goals and current snow conditions in the area. As an example a weekend itinerary could look like this:

Day 1

Arrive into Chamonix and overnight at hotel.

Day 2 

L’Aiguillette des Houches (2285m) – From the village of Coupeau, it is a gentle ascent through the forests that takes us up past Chalet de Chailloux.  Now, we are well above the tree line and the open slopes take us up to one of the best viewpoints of the entire Chamonix valley.

Day 3 

Vallée Blanche and Col d’Entrèves – Any ski trip to Chamonix wouldn’t be complete without a descent of the Vallée Blanche.  From the Aiguille du Midi, we ski down the classic Vallée Blanche to Pointe Adolphe Rey before putting our skins on and climbing for 2 hours up to the Col d’Entrèves on the Italian border.  Now it is time for our final run down the majestic Vallée Blanche, before heading back to Chamonix for a celebratory meal and depart for home.

Daily Guided Ski Touring Options

Brévent-Flégère

The Brévent-Flégère pistes face south. The steep couloirs that the Brévent is known for make an ideal introduction to steep skiing. The couloirs range from the serious ENSA couloir which has a very steep and often corniced entry to the delightful Col de la Glière, which is reached by a short hike (use skins or carry the skis) and takes you away from the crowds for awhile.

Flégère Lift System

The Flégère lift system has a wealth of fine ski tours which will take most of the day to complete; some are classic introductions to ski touring such as the Crochue-Bérard traverse (1 hour to the top of the 40° Crochue couloir, a scenic west facing traverse, a 30 minute skin to the Col de Bérard and then the reward, north facing powder and picturesque valley). Others are more serious such as the superb Glacier du Mort, the climb to the top of which though easy, usually entails the use of a rope and ice axe.

Tour-Vallorcine Lift System

Moving further up the valley, the Tour-Vallorcine lift system has both North and South facing pistes, and the off-piste skiing here can be some of the best in the valley.  There are the Vormaine gullies, mildly steep South facing skiing, the North and South sides of the Posettes which are both thoroughly excellent outings with a 900m of descent.  There is the playground area of Les Jeurs, which will pay dividends if you bring skins; involving a 20 minute skin back to lift gives access to terrain ordinary skiers cannot reach or at least, cannot get back from! Finally, there are the descents to the Swiss village of Trient, the fabulous and easy Nant Noir, a long scenic valley and the steep couloirs (40°, 50° and 35° depending on the route) on the North East side of the Pointe du Van.  Serious stuff, but you have the pleasure of skiing into one of more popular ice climbing valleys in the region.

Grands Montets

North facing Grands Montets for many people IS Chamonix. Huge wide pistes, skiing from 3200m down to 1200m, endless off-piste variations returning to the lift system. Because of the altitude and aspect, the snow remains in condition here till late spring. There is good glacier skiing on the East to the Argentière Glacier, steeper skiing on the north side and to the west side of the top station are the brilliant Pas de Chèvre variations, which lead down to the Montenvers Cog Railway; some of the great classics of off-piste. The one downside of Grands Montets is that because it is so good there, it attracts a lot of good skiers and the competition for fresh powder is fierce.

Grands Montets is also the starting point for the Chamonix - Zermatt Haute Route as well as some classic short ski tours such as Col du Passon and the Three Cols, both of which finish down the Tour Glacier.

Aiguille du Midi

If you do nothing else in Chamonix, you really should ski from here at least once. There are no pistes here and from 3,800m, you are in mountain terrain. There is an embarrassing wealth of off-piste descents from the two lift stations.  The absolute classic is the Vallée Blanche. When the snow reaches down to Chamonix, the descent is 2,800m over 22km.  The variations on the the classic route follow steeper slopes and alternative aspects exploiting the northern aspects for powder and southern slopes for spring snow. The Col de Plan, Envers, VraiRognon and Noir variations all hold their special attractions; powder filled corners where you may find yourself alone surrounded by ice and snow capped granite spires.

The Midi also is home to some of the very wild sides of skiing, but that is another story and you will find out about it when you are here. The mid station on the Midi lift system, Plan de l`Aiguille is the starting point for two or three great winter outings, and these need snow down to Chamonix. The Combe des Glaciers has a marvellous shallow couloir that is long and perfectly angled leading to a hidden entry to the forest above Chamonix.

Helbronner Lift System

On the other side of Mont Blanc (just 20 minutes from Chamonix) is the Helbronner lift  system, which serves the Vallée Blanche as well as the south facing slopes leading to the Italian side.  Like the Midi there are only off-piste runs from here. A great day can be had by skiing the Toula Glacier in the morning and finishing down the Vallée Blanche to Chamonix. And of course, skiing off the Mont Blanc Massif, there are a lot of exciting-going-on-wild steep couloirs and the classic on this side is probably the Marbrée, which has a steep entry (45° to 50°) followed by 200m of fine open slopes at 40°,  then cruising, if you are lucky with the conditions, back at the lift some 2000m lower. All of this set in the hugely atmospheric cirque under the Dent du Géant.

Courmayeur

10 minutes further down the Aosta Valley are the lifts of Courmayeur. This has a network of pistes with off-piste variants, plus some quite long and scenic excursions into adjacent valleys. The latter are often used as the back half of a heli-skiing day.

Les Contamines

About 45 minutes from Chamonix and on the West side of Mont Blanc is the Les Contamines lift system. Here like Courmayeur are great opportunities for easier off-piste runs, a place to experiment and learn on the big powder days. The South West Face of the Aiguille Croche is a classic example; 800m of open slopes with a short  section of 35°. In spring this is a perfect for the old lags and beginners alike.

Les Contamines also has quite a few classic one-day ski tours. As with all the descents around Mont Blanc, there is a certain amount of overlap between skiing off the piste and full on ski touring. A lot of the off-piste require a short walk, booting it up to a better col or hill, sometimes it is worth attaching skins for half an hour to climb up. For this you will be using ski touring bindings on your skis.

At the other end of the spectrum are the multi-day tours and ski mountaineering. Different but related activities, all of which can be experienced at the highest level in the Mont Blanc Massif.

 

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