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!
Travel to Chamonix resort and meet up with your Mountain Tracks guide in the evening for a briefing to go over equipment, discuss the itinerary and answer any questions you may have. Overnight in a hotel in Chamonix.
We'll spend the first 2 days at the 'Cremerie' under the Grand Montets ski area in Argentiere. It's an easy walk from the village to access the site which offers an excellent selection of classic icefall climbs. Your guide will choose routes which match your level and fitness. The focus will be on gaining new skills. In particular we will look at: placing ice protection, the organisation of belays, rope techniques, abseiling off ice anchors, steep ice techniques and leading.
Having spent 2 days climbing at the Cremerie, today we'll drive to Cogne in Italy and spend 2 days ice climbing in the Cogne Valley. There are many excellent routes to climb at different grades and its a great place to practice and learn the skills needed for multi-pitch climbing. We stay in a comfortable hotel in Cogne for 1 night and return to Chamonix for the final night.
Cogne is one of the best ice climbing venues in the Alps with a range of routes. The Cascade de Lillaz is an interesting route of 6-7 pitches, lots of 70 degree ice plus some steeper sections. Other climbs include Monday Money, Patri left Hand or Flash Estivo all of which are reached in a pleasant two hour walk through the valley bottom passing summer villages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A standard climbing helmet is suitable for any of our ice climbing trips.
HarnessA 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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!
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.
I have no previous mountaineering experience but I am keen to learn the basics of using crampons and an ice axe and rope work. I would enjoy ascending rocky scrambles and easy angled snow and ice. I am a regular hill walker summer and winter and used to long days out, I am happy to walk for 6-8hrs per day carrying all my gear in my rucksack. For Via Ferrata trips a head for heights and some upper body strength is useful.
I have undertaken some previous rocky scrambling and short rock climbs, ice or easy alpine climbing. I am comfortable moving on rocky and snowy ridges and slopes of up to 40 degrees. I enjoy the challenge of more remote technical terrain. I would like to learn more about alpine rope work. I can improve my crampon / ice axe technique and could scramble on rock with greater efficiency.
I have previous experience climbing alpine PD+ or harder. I am undeterred by scrambling and have done some pitched climbing on rock or ice. I have a firm grasp of the rope techniques necessary for pitched climbing and crossing glaciers. I am confident when using crampons and ice axe. I relish the thought of climbing steep rock and ice or traversing an exposed ridge covered in snow and ice. I can abseil, know how to use a prussic knot and make myself safe on basic belay stances.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.