Chamonix questions


Original Post
BigRed11 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 713

Hey all, I'm planning a trip to Chamonix in June but am getting completely lost in the information online. Can anyone advise?

We are experienced trad climbers, up to low 5.10, with a good amount of time in alpine settings. What would be the classic, long rock routes around Chamonix that I should look into? We'd like to avoid glacier travel if possible, or limit it to easy walks since we won't be bringing the requisite gear. Help please?

Tom Halicki · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 5

This will get you started. rockfax.com/climbing-guides...

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632

You're surely missing out on a lot by not doing any climbs that require glacier approaches. Definitely should think about paying the bucks to your airline to haul an additional piece of luggage to carry serious gear to match the great terrain and conditions.

More important,
even apart from glaciers, normal gear for multi-pitch rock climbs around Chamonix includes two 50-meter ropes. Most of the descents are not set up for a single rope.

Not being able to perform 50-meter rappels is a substantial problem. Might as well go somewhere else rather than Chamonix.
. (and almost no Europeans local or visiting Chamonix attempt to rappel with a single rope and a light tag line).

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Tom Halicki wrote:This will get you started. rockfax.com/climbing-guides...
That's only the most recent book.
There are other rather good English-language guidebooks available for sale in shops in Chamonix. The "standard" books for Chamonix granite are by Michel Piola (who is also the most prolific creator of new routes).

Ken
Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 5

I was there last season and pooled a ton of info from the interwebs. as Ken mentioned (who BTW was super helpful with my trip planning), bring glacier gear.....

But feel free to PM me with an specific Q's

BigRed11 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 713

Thanks for the advice all - I'm meeting a friend who lives in France with the requisite rack and double ropes, but no ice/snow gear. If there are well-trodden glacier approaches that might only require micro-spikes or the like then we can consider it but I can't carry crampons and axes for both of us :\

Are there any moderate must-dos that we can't miss that have a required glacier approach? If it's uber-classic then we might try to find a way to carry glacier gear.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 12,639
BigRed11 wrote:We'd like to avoid glacier travel if possible, or limit it to easy walks since we won't be bringing the requisite gear. Help please?
Why go to Chamonix?

If you don't want to climb in the high mountains with glaciers...pick a spot more suited to your intended style.

Maybe the Aiguilles Rouge might have something with views...by June there might be non-snowy approaches I'd guess.

I think there's plenty of craggin' at lower elevations in the neighborhood...but...

There's gobs of non-glacier areas with long, classic rock climbs outside Chamonix.
Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 91

The Aiguille Rouges does not require any glacier travel. I did a few rock climbs in the Rouges, but honestly they were nothing special. They are nowhere nearly as awesome as climbing on the Mont Blanc massif.

If you don't want to carry it, you can look at renting glacier gear in Chamonix. (Snell Sports is a cool shop that you should check out regardless!) If you only are going to climb in the Rouges, you're probably better off going somewhere else.

Rui Ferreira · · Longmont, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 784
BigRed11 wrote:Thanks for the advice all - I'm meeting a friend who lives in France with the requisite rack and double ropes, but no ice/snow gear. If there are well-trodden glacier approaches that might only require micro-spikes or the like then we can consider it but I can't carry crampons and axes for both of us :\ Are there any moderate must-dos that we can't miss that have a required glacier approach? If it's uber-classic then we might try to find a way to carry glacier gear.
You might be able to get away without glacial approaches by climbing on the Plan D'Aiguille side. Arete des Papillons and Voie Contamine-Vaucher are some of the classics in this area (both on Aiguille du Peigne).

Depending on conditions, if it has been hot and dry then you might be able to walk in and out without crampons, but this is the exception. In 2015 I was able to walk out on the Argentiere glacier without crampons and did not use them to approach the climbs behind the hut (but I did use them to descend from the Grands-Montets telepherique to the glacier.). There are many classic routes on this side of the range (Aiguille du Genepi, Eperon Sud-est on Aiguille d'Argentiere, etc.)

In general however you will require crampons and ax to approach most rock climbs in the classic areas such Envers des Aiguilles, Grand Capucin, Glacier du Geant, etc.
Doug Hemken · · Madison, WI · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 5,243

You'll have to search a bit to find routes that have zero snow on the approach or descent. You will have so much more freedom to get on rock that appeals to you if you are ready to cross snow! Crampons and an axe apiece will be worth the weight.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Chris C. wrote:look at renting glacier gear in Chamonix.
Yes, you can surely rent ice axes and crampons in Chamonix.
I think pretty likely also rent mountaineering boots if need those.
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

Hopefully, your main purpose for going to Cham is sightseeing. Climbers don't go to Chamonix to avoid glaciers. If your sole or primary purpose is rock climbing, go somewhere else

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
FrankPS wrote:Hopefully, your main purpose for going to Cham is sightseeing. Climbers don't go to Chamonix to avoid glaciers. If your sole or primary purpose is rock climbing, go somewhere else
+1
BigRed11 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 713
Brian in SLC wrote: There's gobs of non-glacier areas with long, classic rock climbs outside Chamonix.
Any you would recommend I look into?

Thanks all for other recommendations - I'll look into rentals, that sounds like a good option.

FrankPS wrote: Climbers don't go to Chamonix to avoid glaciers.


I also don't think climbers go to Chamonix because they're psyched on the ultra-classic glacier walking. Thanks for being helpful!
Jonathan Lagoe · · Boulder · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

For what you seem to be looking for then Central Switzerland is the place to go.

Specifically Salbit area. The West (32 pitches!) and South ridges of Salbit are ultra classics. There's also a lovely hut as a base and dozens of routes accessible from that with a short walk.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/gschenertal/107861281

and Eldorado

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/eldorado/106292874

This is all world class alpine granite climbing with no glacier issues.

There's plenty more in that region too. The "Schweiz Plaisir West" guide and Salbit area guides both from Filidor are your friend

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/book.php?id=1142
http://www.filidor.ch/pages/Book.aspx?Id=41

The other fantastic area would be the Bregalia region with Piz Badile and the Cassin Route as one of the great north faces of the Alps and with no glacier approach. (But a potentially tricky approach traverse if verglassed)

This is the best guide - in Italian and German versions

http://www.rockrun.com/solo-granito-vol-2-masino-bregaglia-disgrazia

A good overview of all these regions in this excellent book:

http://www.filidor.ch/pages/Book.aspx?Id=33

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 12,639

Presles on the Vercors plateau, Mont Aiguille...

Multi pitch in Provence at Orpierre, St. Victoire...

La Berarde. Ercrins (Aiguille Dibona).

Places mentioned by Jonathan near Chiavenna Italy (uphill into Switzerland).

Val di Mello.

There's long, classic routes in Spain (Picos de Europa, Riglos, Pyrennes...).

Long routes at Furka Pass, Grimsel Pass...

Etc.

Bruno Schull · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 0

Hey. I've climbed moderate rock and alpine routes around Chamonix numerous times. The replies here generally makes sense--the high alpine terrain that makes Cham famous is defined by the juxtaposition of granite and glaciers. But there are plenty of great rock climbs with snow free (or nearly snow free) approaches and descents. And it's a cool place to visit--like going to Yosemite or something, famous, full of climbing history, and probably a required visit for a climbing trip to France. For rock routes, check out the Aiguilles Rouges on the "smaller" side of the valley. This side will probably be largely snow free, the glaciers, if you can even call them that, are negligible, and you have great views of the massif. The standard would be to suggest sport climbs on the Brevent, and long classic routes like the Chapelle de la Gliere for more adventurous climbing. You could also climb on the Northwest side of the Aiguilles du Chamonix, the great line of peaks that rises above town on the "bigger" side of the valley. The lower slopes and approaches to and descents from many rock climbs are unglaciated, or just involve easy snowfields. Start at the Aiguille de l"M higher up the valley and work your way down toward the Aiguille du Peigne, where there are numerous great routes. Give yourself time to adapt to the French grading systems, and don't be surprised is some of the old classic lines with deceptively low grades are surprisingly difficult! Last, and perhaps most important, do not let yourself be tempted into crossing the high glaciers, not even from the top of the Aiguille du Midi telepherique to the base of the Auiguille du Midi South face, nor from top of the lift on the Italian side to the base of the Grand Capuccin, nor on many of the smaller and superficially safer glaciers in the Argentiere or Tour basins. The glaciers are big, they are real, they are serious. Cross them only with sound knowledge and good equipment, especially after the last two summers of high temperatures and thin snow cover. Good luck, stay safe, and have a great time!

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Jonathan Lagoe wrote:For what you seem to be looking for then Central Switzerland is the place to go.
What happened to Valle dell'Orco
.[ mountainproject.com/v/valle... ].
for classic granite?
Closer to Chamonix than some of those other spots?
Anyway worth knowing about in case the weather is bad in Cham.
Jonathan Lagoe · · Boulder · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

Well because it's cragging and my understanding was that the OP was interested in Alpine - hence Salbit and Bregaglia.

It's also my opinion based on personal experience rather than speculation/hearsay

I could produce a list of all the great climbing areas in Europe if that would help more.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply