Chamonix, France

Ice-Climbing in Chamonix and Cogne

Enjoy the fantastic thrill of vertical ice climbing! During winter, waterfalls in the Alps freeze up and become spectacular ice climbing venues. The spectacular Chamonix Valley has more than 20 different sites of varying length and difficulty and all with stunning backdrops! Cogne in Italy offers some great climbing with routes of different grades and many multipitch climbs to enjoy. Ice climbing can be enjoyed by anyone with basic climbing skills and a little determination!

Prices include guide fees and expenses, 5 nights B&B accommodation 4 in Chamonix and 1 in Cogne (twin rooms) and local transport.
Not included in the price - travel to/from Chamonix, lunches, evening meals, personal insurance and equipment hire

Prices are per person and based on a minimum of 2 people. Guide to climber ratio is 1:2.

  • This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on an ice climbing trip with Mountain Tracks.

    Clothing

    • A good quality pair of Gore-Tex trousers. Possible characteristics might include bib-style front with braces (to keep the snow out), side-openings (useful for when you get hot), breathable fabric (Gore-Tex or similar), stretch knee pads, integral snow gaiters.
    • An outer shell jacket made of breathable material (Gore-Tex or similar) and built-in hood. We advocate the ‘layering principle’ and so a shell is recommended rather than a padded jacket.
    • Belay jacket (down jacket) to keep you warm when belaying or on very cold days that can be worn over your Gore-Tex jacket.
    • Comfortable underwear with good wicking properties. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable, warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Several thin (rather than fewer thick) layers between your skin and the outer shell - an approach that gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Warm beanie style hat that can also be worn under your helmet.
    • Good quality gloves (Gore-Tex) at least one pair, ideally 2 in case one set gets wet and 1 thinner pair of gloves (soft shell material).
    • Silk inner gloves
    • Technical Socks to wear with your boots.

    Boots

    We recommend you have a B3 rated boot for ice climbing, this gives maximum rigidity in the sole and the best performance. Examples of B3 rated boots would be the La Sportiva Nepal Tops/Extreme, Trango/Ice, Makalu; Scarpa Matterhorn, Cerro Torre, Vega or Alpha or the Asolo 101.

    Technical Equipment

    Recent years have seen big changes in boot, axe and crampon design and technology, lightweight, higher performing materials now make this equipment easier to use and in turn the sport more accessible. 

    Crampons

    It’s important to get the correct crampons for your boot, if possible take your boot along to the shop to ensure you get the correct fit. For Ice Climbing we recommend a 12 point crampon something like the Grivel G12, G14 which are steel 12 point all-around crampons. The Grivel Rambo 4 is also suitable but quite specific.

    Ice Axes

    For Ice Climbing you need a pair of fully curved technical ice tools one with an adz and one hammer. We suggest Grival Master Alloy, Petzl Nomic 2, Black Diamond Fusion 2 or the DMM Apex.

    Helmet

    A standard climbing helmet is suitable for any of our ice climbing trips.

    Harness

    A standard climbing harness with adjustable leg loops and gear loops on either side. Please also bring if you own them a belay plate, 2 prusik loops 5 or 6mm in diameter and about 1m – 1.20m in length, 2 slings and a couple of screwgate karabiners.

    Accessories

    • Good pair of ski goggles – these can be worn to help protect your face from ice and in the event of poor weather.
    • Good quality sunglasses – UV factor category 4 recommended
    • 20-25 liter rucksack to carry your personal items each day
    • 1-1.5 Liter water bottle or water drinking system like Camelbak (can freeze in cold weather)
    • Suncream and lip salve (factor 30 or higher recommended)
    • Headtorch – a small headtorch (just in case!)

    Hiring Equipment

    If you need to hire any of the technical items of equipment please let us know in advance so we can arrange this with our guide or at the shop we use in the resort.

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Chamonix

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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.

Off Piste runs include:

 

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 ski tour from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.

Chamonix is just as much about the climbing and mountaineering in the summer months, with easy access into the high mountains and many magnificent climbs and routes available plus an extensive network of high alpine huts its also a mecca for climbers.  Mont Blanc draws over 20,000 ascents a year both by ski and foot and any good weather day in the summer months will see numerous people achieve the summit.


Resort Information:

Resort Height: 1,042m

Highest Lift: 3,842m

Nearest Airport: Geneva

Transfer Options: From Geneva the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix. We recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Drop Offs or Cham Van who both offer comparativly priced transfers and run an efficient services.

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.

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include 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.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day. 

    The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins.  To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you and the usual prices are from £40 per person one-way. Please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.

    Want to take the train to the resort?  No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix.  The journey can be done in 1 day.  For more information and other useful train travel details look at www.snowcarbon.co.uk 

    At the end of the week the course finishes after breakfast on the last day and we recommend that you arrange your return/onward flight from lunchtime onwards to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!

  • Our ice-climbing courses are led by fully qualified, English-speaking IFGMA Mountain Guides with extensive knowledge of the local ice climbing routes. They are all passionate outdoor enthusiasts who will inspire you with their energy and enthusiasm!
  • Up to 4 climbers with a guide:climber ratio of 1:2
  • Accommodation is based on B&B hotel accommodation (twin share) in Chamonix and Cogne. 

    Single room occupancy subject to availability and likely to incur an additional charge.

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