Chamonix

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Chamonix

Postby salida » Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:48 am

Well, Aleyska ended up being about the same price as Chamonix for a week of skiing ~900. So our club picked Chamonix for a week in mid march.

Anyone, care to give me the low down on Chamonix. I've heard lots and lots of reports, but nothing that is to concise that I can really get my head around.

Also, is it worth it to try and ski the vallee blanche from the where the lift drops off on the side of mont blanc? If I have my details right. Has anyone ever done this?

Thanks

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re: Chamonix

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:55 pm

In addtion to Chris' reports in this section, you can see mine from February 2004 in the archives http://216.250.243.13/discus2/messages/ ... 1078153834 .

Vallee Blanche is very worthwhile but you need an advance tram reservation, guide and a good weather day. If you assemble a group of good skiers like Ron Cram did http://skistreak.com/2002/europe/chamon ... uille.html there are some more exciting ski options.

You should hire a guide for your first clear day at Grands Montets also.

If you weren't doing heliskiing at Alyeska you've made the better choice to go to Chamonix. Best time of year too, maximum snowpack and after French school holidays.
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re: Chamonix

Postby Patrick » Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:48 pm

I was in Chamonix for 3 days in late March 2003. (it's detailed in the first link).

Yes, the Vallée-Blanche is definately worth even if it's isn't that hard. The scenery is spectacular. Tony is correct, you can take a more direct run and not ski in the valley (which wouldn't really be la Vallée-Blanche).

There also skiing off on the other side of l'Aiguille-du-midi, but that isn't for the faint of heart. :oops:

http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/show ... hp?t=48919

http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/show ... hp?t=53252


Besides Tony's reports, you should check these out.


http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... c.php?t=18

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... .php?t=529

Grand Montets and Flegere-Brevent reports by Chris:

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... .php?t=447


If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
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re: Chamonix

Postby ChrisC » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:26 pm

Chamonix vs. Alyeaska?
Chamonix - hands down, no second thoughts. You're lucky to be going.

I tried to summarize my trip about 2 yrs ago here.
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... .php?t=529
Combined with Tony's and Patrick"s posts, you should have a clue on what to expect.

Last Febraury, I got to ski some of the other French biggies - La Grave, Three Valleys, Val d'Isere/Tignes. I also went to Chamonix again and did the Vallee Blanche since it was closed over Xmas during my first trip.

What is unique/best about Chamonix compared to others?
The vertical. The scenery. The general steepness. A relative lack of groomed cruisers. Lots of off-piste. Glaciated terrain. Strong sense of mountaineering. Large town.

What is bad?
There is almost no beginner terrain. Intermediate terrain is limited too. Disconnected. (Do not really impact me nor you either).

If I were to pick 2 key things to do:
1. Vallee Blanche - It's 9000 vertical in stunning scenery. Get the max group for a guide to cut costs (maybe 8?) and pick a clear day. Ask to do the Petite Envers and Envers. There is nothing like it anywhere.
http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/H ... ee-Blanche
2. Grandes Montets. There is some sketchy stuff here.
Attachments
vallee-blanche-routes.jpg
Easy Vallee Blanche on left. Steeper routes on right.
vallee-blanche-routes.jpg (17.07 KiB) Viewed 7769 times
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re: Chamonix

Postby salida » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:52 pm

Everyone thanks for the responses.

Yes, it is going to be an amazing trip. About 20 of us are going, mostly from my college ski club. The five of us who went to Portillo this summer are also going... we're really looking to ski some challenging terrain and it sounds like that is exactly what we are going to get. Hopefully by being there in midmarch we will maximize the probability of getting good snow.

I definitely want to ski the Valle Blanche, and will have a group advanced enough to ski the burlier routes, which from the pictures in the piste hors link would be the envers...

From Chris's and other's reports it sounds like there is alot of good off piste terrain that should be suitable for the group we have going! I can't wait.

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re: Chamonix

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:53 am

Given the stated ski ability of your group, I cannot overemphasize how important it will be for you to hire guides. If you don't you will either not be skiing the terrain you want or else risking your lives.

Investigate now and budget for it. Maybe this is obvious, but with college students there's a always strong emphasis on price, as evidenced by the comparison with Alyeska. If you can't afford the guides you should not go to Chamonix.

Yes with a strong group you should ski the Grand Envers or Envers du Plan. But our guide said in 2004 said guides will only take 4 skiers on those routes vs. 8 on the easy routes. I suspect small groups are also required on other more technical routes, like from Grands Montets to Mer de Glace.

On the NASJA Chamonix trip we always had guides but there was a wide range of ski abilities. Thus we did the scenic but not steep Petit Envers variation on Vallee Blanche. At the end of our day at Grands Montets two of us got an extra run through some spectacular glacial features. And 7 of us stronger skiers had a 5,500 vertical off-piste run from hell at Courmayeur after all of us misjudged snow conditions from afar.
Last edited by Tony Crocker on Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: re: Chamonix

Postby salida » Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:05 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Given the stated ski ability of your group, I cannot overemphasize how important it will be for you to hire guides. If you don't you will either not be skiing the terrain you want or else risking your lives.

Investigate now and budget for it. Maybe this is obvious, but with college students there's a stong emphasis on price, as evidenced by the comparison with Alyeska. If you can't afford the guides you should not go to Chamonix.


Thanks for the heads up. I kind of figured this when looking into the trip. If we are going to fly all the way to france, we are going to spend the extra bit of money on a guide so that we get to ski the terrain that we want to ski! I appreciate the reccomendation, and can't wait to get over there!
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Re: Chamonix

Postby Eskil » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:40 am

Some suggestion on off-piste routes that are cool and reachable from the lifts.
- Off the Aiguille du Midi, the classic Vallee Blanche, the Rognon variant or the steeper Envers du Plan. See photos and find a mountain guide at http://www.mountain-spirit-guides.com/v ... lanche.asp
- Off the top of Le Tour ski into Switzerland.
- On the Toule Glacier from France straight down into Italy. Then ski the north facing slopes on the Glacier du Geant back to Chamonix.
- Pas du Chèvre, the Rectiligne Couloir
- Couloir des Posettes from Le Tour down to Vallorcine.

All descents involves glaciers, so if you don't know how to travel safely on glaciers and how to perform a rescue I recommend you to go with a guide. Find off-piste courses and guided skiing here http://www.mountain-spirit-guides.com/o ... skiing.asp . Their guides are great skiers and good instructors.

Have fun!
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Re: Chamonix

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:58 am

Noting the dates on the original thread, I presume salida's projected trip to Chamonix did not pan out. Nonetheless, there's lots of good advice and references here for anyone considering a trip there.

FYI Extremely Canadian is going to Courmayeur on the other side of Mont Blanc Feb 28 - Mar 7 in 2009. They will ski some on the French side, and/or take road trips to other areas based upon weather/conditions.
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