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Chamonix Valley, France – A summary

By on January 6, 2006 in France

The Chamonix Valley is a great place to go skiing.

This trip was my third visit to the Valley.

In 1997 I spent a week staying in Chamonix and skied most of the resorts/ski areas.  For that trip, we hired a mini-bus (there were 7 of us) and did the long, long drive (this trip we used the Chunnel which worked great).  Also on that trip, we skied the Vallee Blanche.

Now, there are a few things I would say about skiing the Vallee Blanche:

  1. Take a guide!!!!  These guys are trained, know the route, and know where all the crevasses are.
  2. Never ski ahead of your guide.  Follow his or her tracks; it could be fatal if you don’t.
  3. Only try and ski it if you are very good.  I class my self as intermediate and found the bit at the start really difficult.  This was because I was not used to off-piste conditions of thick cruddy powder that had been skied and re-frozen multiple times.
  4. If you have breathing difficulties, you may want to avoid it because at the altitude of the Aiguille Du Midi (3842 m) you may find the air too thin.
  5. If you are scared of heights the walk from the cable car station to the area where you start skiing may freak you out.  The walk is along a fairly narrow ledge (some times the guides may cut a trench for you to walk in) with a sheer 1000 ft drop to the left.  (For this hike you are usually roped together and roped to a guide.)
  6. Only ski it if you are fit.  There is a long uphill section to get to lunch, and it is a long and tiring day for the legs.

Having said all of the above it is a truly spectacular run with amazing scenery.  Gliding along the gentle slope of the glacier was a delight, and very relaxing, however, you did have to keep an eye on the guide in case spotted a new crevasse and suddenly stopped.

In March 2003 I visited Chamonix and stayed with a friend working for the British Ski Academy (BSA) in Les Houches.  It was a fun trip and I got to explore a number of the ski areas including Les Houches, Le Tour, Argentiere and Les Contamines.

My most recent trip (December 2005/January 2006) was a bit of a bust due my accident on day 2.  However, I did get to ski Les Houches and St. Gervais, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In short, the Chamonix Valley offers a range of skiing experiences, and is easy to get to from the UK. The ease of getting there from the UK can be a disadvantage as the place tends to be full of Brits (I did see some anti-British graffiti on this trip).

Chamonix, France – map it

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