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By IanWarrington
From Rogers Pass, BC
Mar 7, 2014
My climbing partner is looking to come over and meet me for a week in mid June in the Mont Blanc area. I'm trying to hammer out some logisitics to know if I can afford it and any advice from alpinists (cough: broke-ass-climbers) that have spent time in the area would be super awesome.

Main questions right now are:

1) what are the camping options, legitamit or otherwise?

2) at that time of year would hostels be expected to fill up? assuming the weather cooperates, our goals would include some routes that have us up on the side of the mountain for a night or two so the question is which will work out cheaper- paying for an apartment for 7 nights now and being able to shop the best deal in advance OR, showing up and playing it by ear so that when we have weather windows we don´t have to be paying for a bed that we´re not using, but risk running out of accomidation and having to pay mega bucks for a hotel room. Any recommendations for june, specific hostels or otherwise?

3) how necessary is a rental car? doing the same trip in canada would require a car (aim for a couple alpine objectives in a week, hit rock or hike when the weather doesn`t cooperate) but is the level of public transit around there good enough that it is worth considering just busing/ thumbing it?

Thank you so much for any first hand advice or references to sites that I haven`t bumped into yet. I have a ton of route questions but I figured I needed to figure out if the trip was happening or not before putting the cart before the horse.

Thanks

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By Sergey
From Evanston, IL
Mar 7, 2014
Try searching for Mont Blanc, Chamonix and any other related words on ukclimbing.com. There are dozens if not hundreds of threads on this topic there, and new ones emerge every year. Short answers are (see UKC for more details):

1) Ton of campsites, and really awesome ones too. It is illegal to camp in the woods and not many people do (which is not to say it is impossible). I'd camp in one of the campsites in Cham, but there's a popular one in Argentiere too. Depends on what you want to climb.

2) Vagabond is the default place in Cham, but can sometimes be busy, so not sure how likely it is that you will find yourself without a bunk. Never had a problem personally, but had to move between rooms a few times. You can always go camping if the hostel is full.

3) Loads of people do it without a car, but it's certainly nice to have one. Whether you need it will depend on your objectives, but there's a ton of climbing of all sorts that you can access either from Cham directly or by public transport. Don't count on taxis too much, they can be hard to find, especially late at night. On a scale of 0-10 in needing a car, where your North America climbing trip will be at least an 8 or a 9, Chamonix is more like 2.

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By Flex
From Flagstaff, AZ
Mar 7, 2014
Enjoying a rare, clear day on Mt. Sir Donald
My partner and I climbed a number of routes on the massif and had no problems with camping or not having a car. It was also over 10 years ago and we approached from the Italian side in Courmayeur during high summer. We stayed in a private campground in Val Ferret that was easily accessed by bus. When we headed up into the mountains for an extended stay, they let us pay a minimal fee for leaving a tent up with non-essential things in it. It was totally safe and legit as it was one of those euro-style campgrounds with a fence, showers and a little store.

I can't speak to what it's like in Cham, but it was cheap, easy, and safe to leave our gear at the campground while we were away. The Mont Blanc tunnel connects Courmayeur with Chamonix so you should have plenty of options. Feel free to hit me up with any other questions too.

Hope you get to go and have a blast.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 7, 2014
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
I climbed in the region based out of Cham last summer. Can't speak to camping in town (I had a place to stay and was glad for it). I did see one of the hostels in town (not sure the name). According to my partner it has free wifi.

You shouldn't need a car. We had none and it didn't matter. You can take buses between towns everywhere and then easily walk with all your gear to the cable car. You can also walk to grocery stores -- just bring a backpack to carry things.

You can also easily get mass transit out of airports. There is a main bus which runs every two hours, and there are also other types of contracted carpooling shuttles (like a Supershuttle). I used either alpybus or mountaindropoffs (can't remember).

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By Allen Sanderson
From Oootah
Mar 7, 2014
Stairway To Heaven - all the way to the Pearly Gates <br />(i.e. 10 pitches to the tram station)
Screw the camping and stay at a Gite d'Etape. If the weather is pissy being in a tent in Cham is not any fun. You can easily leave gear at the Gite when you go up high. Makes life easier as then you can also cook meals and put stuff in a frig. There are some pretty cheap Gite around Cham.

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