Northern Mountain Sport / Mountain Guiding / Alpine Winter / Chamonix


Tim Blakemore IFMGA GUIDE

Easy to get to, accommodation to suit all types and world class mountains, it's easy to see why Chamonix remains the number one spot for winter sports.

The area is home to cascades which are reliably in condition from Dec – Feb and include III's to introduce novices on to VI+'s to test even the hardiest pro. Chamonix also enjoys unrivaled lift access and hut systems which allow the high routes to be accessed easily. The north face of the Tacul for e.g. is covered in gullies and coulouirs which regularly come into condition and are similar in style to Point Five Gully (only twice as long!).

Sample itinerary

Day 1. Introduction to ice climbing at La Cremerie. Situated near the Grand Montets ski resort this reliable venue is reached in a pleasant thirty minute walk. Once there we look at revising ice climbing technique - getting the most out of your tools and crampons. You'll discover it's not just about hitting the ice as hard as possible! We look to climb two routes today: La Cremerie and Moby Dick, both with abseil descents.

Day 2. Col du Montets. This high pass forms ice well and there is lots to go at. We climb either La Colonne or Micro Goulotte, both 4+.

Day 3. Today we take the lift to the Lognan in the Grand Montets ski area. From here the Argentiere Glacier is easily accessed. There are many climbs here on both sides. We climb on 'Rive Gauche' and climb Cascade de l'EMHM 4+

Day 4. Early start to catch the first telepherique to the Aiguille du Midi. From the summit we descend the arete roped together and pass under the South Face. Ahead of us is the mixed climbing Mecca of the Triangle du Tacul. There are many options open to us but the Chere Coulouir (4) looks in good shape. We climb pitch after pitch of alpine ice before abseiling to the foot of the route. We spend the night in the Cosmiques Hut.

Day 5. A leisurely breakfast sees us first on the ultra classic Cosmiques Arete. With an unrivalled vista unfolding beneath our feet we move together and pitch the rock and ice difficulties. At one or two points we need to abseil or down climb the ups and downs of the ridge but all too soon the end is reached. As we ascend the ladders to the station we are photographed by the now resident tourists. Some ask to stand next to you as they want their photo taken with 'a real alpiniste!' We take the cable car down to Chamonix and waiting cafes. Unless of course you can ski?

For a description of a previous trip click here CHAMONIX GUIDED WINTER ALPINISM