Vallée Blanche

Learn more about Vallée Blanche

The Vallée Blanche is the most famous ski descent in the world. The classic route is 22km long and has a vertical descent of over 2,700m. The descent is entirely off-piste and travels through some of the most spectacular glaciated scenery in Europe. Surrounding the glaciers are several 4000m+ peaks: Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Mont Maudit, the Grandes Jorasses and the Aiguille Vert.

A descent of the Vallée Blanche should be high on every skier and snowboarders list!

The ‘classic route’ is suitable for intermediate skiers. However, there are many variations for more advanced off-piste skiers to tackle; the best known being the ‘Petit and Grand Envers’. It is also possible to ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche from the Helbronner lift station, which is accessed from Courmayeur, Italy (accessed by road via the Mont Blanc tunnel that joins Chamonix with the Aosta valley).

Skiing the Vallée Blanche with Mountain Tracks
Quick Info
Skill Level:1
Stamina Level:1
Find out more: Trip Fact Sheet

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THE CLASSIC ROUTE

The route begins from the summit of the Aiguille du Midi (3842m), which is accessed by a very spectacular cable car ride. This is a famous view point and we take time to take in the surroundings, which include a great view of the summit of Mont Blanc and other ranges including the Gran Paradiso in Italy and the Monterosa in Switzerland.

We begin the journey on foot down a snow arête (sometimes wearing crampons for additional safety). This section is high and exposed and each member of the group will be equipped with a harness and roped up.

At the Col we put on skis and ski down a fairly steep slope to the first section of glacier that leads us under the South face of the Midi and Mont Blanc du Tacul. Several kilometres of spectacular but fairly gentle skiing lead us to the Geant Icefall. This is the most difficult section which involves steeper slopes and views of huge tumbling ice falls.

Once the steepest part is behind us, we join another easy angled glacier, the Mer du Glace. Here it is possible, simply to cruise and enjoy the view. Lunch can be taken in an area called the ‘Salle a Manger’ (the eating room). Alternatively we can traverse across to the Refuge du Requin which sits above the Mer de Glace and has stunning views of the séracs du Géant, the arête des Périades and the Dent du Géant.

The track down Mer de Glace zigzags between the crevasses and covers several kilometres of ground before arriving just below the Montenvers Mountain Railway station. If there is thin snow cover, we negotiate the ladders and finish the journey by train. But if there is enough snow we continue skiing down the Mer de Glace and make a turn onto forested valley sides (20 min walking section). The final 600m of descent are made on an exciting switch-back trail, eventually arriving back near the centre of Chamonix and a drink (or two) in the nearest bar!

TIMING AND CONDITIONS

The round trip from Chamonix takes from 3-5 hours. Mostly we take our time to really enjoy the experience and do just 1 descent. However if conditions are good and the group are up for it, it is possible to do more than one descent.

Usually we will meet up with you on the night before the VB day to discuss the plan for the day and to check you have all the requisite equipment and clothing. The cable car reservation will be made by our office and your guide will explain what time you need to be at the base station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car - generally about 30 minutes before our scheduled lift time.

Conditions on the VB can vary enormously, from powder to hard pack to moguls! The dangers of the high alpine environment are always present, especially crevasses and remoteness, this means taking a qualified Mountain Guide is essential.

Dates

Bespoke Vallee Blanche days are available on request throughout the winter.

Price

Party of 1 - £350
Party of 2 - £175 per person
Party of 3 - £120 per person
Party of 4 - £95 per person
Party of 5 - £80 per person
Party of 6 - £70 per person
Party of 7 or more - please contact our office
The price includes the guide fees only.
There is a €10 per person fee for the hire of avalanche safety equipment and harness if required.
The price does not include ski pass, ski equipment, clothing, rucksack.

Guide Ratios and Group Sizes

The maximum guide ratio is 1:6. For larger groups we will supply more than 1 guide.

Guides

Our guides are all UIAGM qualified and live and work in the Chamonix valley throughout the year. Most guides are British although we work with local French and International Guides. All our guides speak good English. The guides are chosen for their professional approach and friendly personalities. They will ensure you have a fantastic day out.

Ski/Board Standard

For the classic route, the minimum standard would be a competent red-run skier. The skier must be able to parallel turn on moderately challenging ground. The snowboarder must be able to hold an edge and traverse without losing a great deal of height. We recommend telescopic poles for boarders on flat sections. Participants must be fit and unless you are a very experienced skier, we recommend a descent of the Vallée Blanche toward the end of your ski week.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and that the cover includes medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment. We recommend www.snowcard.co.uk. They specialise in travel insurance for all adventure sports and travel and they offer competitive rates for both single trip and annual policies.

Skill Level Overview

Intermediate (this trip)

For our Intermediate graded courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Performance Intermediate level trips are for you. If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips. You aspire to ski fluidly off-piste and you must be happy to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain.

Either there are currently no stamina levels defined or stamina levels do not apply for this trip.

The Vallée Blanche is a full-day out in the high mountains and you need to be appropriately kitted out.

  • Warm, snow-proof jacket and trousers
  • Extra clothing layer (e.g. fleece)
  • Good quality ski equipment.

    All-Mountain/Freeride skis that are suitable for off-piste skiing are essential

  • Small back pack
  • Goggles
  • Sun cream
  • Warm gloves
  • Hat
  • Snack food & water

Safety Equipment (essential)

Can be supplied by our guides. The cost is 12 Euros per set payable in cash direct to your guide

  • Avalanche Transceiver
  • Snow shovel
  • Avalanche probe

Chamonix, France

The town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is situated at 1042m (3,396 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4807m (15,770 ft).

Chamonix is considered by many as Europe's mecca for outdoor sports and draws many enthusiasts from all over the world.

Unlike many of the purpose built resorts, Chamonix is a proper working town with a large population of about 12,000 inhabitants. This number can be boosted by as many as 80 - 100,000 during the peak months in summer and winter.

As befits a town of this size there are plenty of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs.

Our top reasons to visit Chamonix:

  • Home of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s great off-piste descents
  • Great destination for weekends and short breaks
  • Easy access from the UK and just 75 minutes by road from Geneva airport, which has regular flights from many UK airports
  • Thriving, working town full of shops, bars and restaurants = good shopping, good après-ski
  • The Alpine capital of France renowned for big mountain skiing, alpinism and extreme adventure
  • Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe
  • Very long ski season with skiing possible until well into May
  • Good range of accommodation for all budgets

Chamonix Ski Area

The skiing area of Chamonix is generally considered to have some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Much of this is accessible from the lift systems and includes descents of over 2,000m.

The Chamonix valley extends over 20km and there are several separate lift systems and mountains which provide enormous variety and all are included on the Mont Blanc pass.

Numerous options including:

The Vallée Blanche
The longest off-piste ski descent in the world (24kms).

Pas de Chevre
Ascend to the top of Grand Montets and ski down to the Mer de Glace and on into Chamonix.

Glacier du Toule
You can ski the Glacier du Toule down towards Courmayeur and then catch the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche.

Le Tour
From the back of the Le Tour lift system there is fantastic off-piste skiing towards Vallorcine and Switzerland.

Some of the very best areas can only be reached with an hour's walk from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.

In addition there are some great new heli-skiing opportunities available in Italy just through the Mont Blanc tunnel, only 20 minutes away from the town. These drops are not included in the price - ask us for more details.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to Chamonix from the UK is to fly. The nearest airport is Geneva and the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix.
Easyjet tend to have the most affordable flights and a comprehensive service that serves many UK regional airports including Bristol, Belfast, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Luton, Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham/East Midlands.

Most chalet operators offer inclusive airport transfers from Geneva airport to Chamonix.

More about Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. Its height is 4,807 metres (15,780 feet), but varies from year to year by a few metres, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. The mountain lies at 45°55′N, 6°55′E between the regions of Haute Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy

The first known ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.

Contact

250 York Road, London
SW11 3SJ, United Kingdom
info@mountaintracks.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 8123 2978
Fax: +44 (0)20 7905 0921

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