A Chamonix holiday skiing Vallee Blanche is a given. There's no other experience in the world like this ski adventure and here's what you must know to stay safe. It is no wonder the Vallee Blanche is on most expert skiers' bucket list.
This is what skiing on the glacier is like - steep falls and avoiding crevasses
1. Don't imagine for a second a romantic version of a gently sloping glacier!
The Mer de Glace is named because the frozen ice resembles waves into a sea frozen in a glacier. It's rough terrain, deeply crevassed as the 200m thick ancient glacier wends its way down the Alps. As it falls over the natural gullies and faults in the sub-terrain, the thick glacier cracks and it is these that form the very deep crevasses.
2. Ski across snow bridges that form over the crevasses
Skiers will be skiing over snow bridges - the trouble of course, with those unfamiliar with the glacier, is which ones are newly formed unstable bridges and which are safe to traverse? The terrain changes superficially with snow falls which is why it is important to have with you someone who knows the off-piste terrain.
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3. Take a Ski Guide
Don't even think about saving a few dollars on your holiday and omit a guide. You absolutely need one unless you're very familiar with the terrain. It's not about skiing ability on the glacier but about knowing the safe route.
4. Safety Equipment
The guide will have with him shackles, rope, emergency beacons, ice picks and these are a must if you are to have a safe holiday (and for the obvious reasons). You'll have to hire your own crampons and you can get these from Snells, the large sports store in the center of town.
Strap on the crampons as you walk down the steep slope from the top of the Aiguille du Midi Cable car terminal. There's no other way down. There are no nicely carved out steps. There is no hand rail. There is no secure steel stair case - so be sure to have crampons - it'll make your life so much easier to start the day safe.
5. There's nothing man-made along the Vallee Blanche nor the Mer de Glace
We're talking natural here and the only thing man-made until you get to the end at Montenvers is the rough refuge with the helicopter landing pad. Be sure to bring your lunch and drinks.
6. Intermediate Skiers
A Chamonix holiday skiing Vallee Blanch is possible as well for high intermediates. Just let your guide know and he'll select a route that suits your ability. Be prepared though, that there are some areas which are natural mogul fields as this is the only route and the funneling of skiing traffic creates ever larger bumps.
Enjoy your Chamonix holiday! This really is a superb world class resort and there is nothing in the world that compares to skiing the Vallee Blanche.
7. Tip your guide generously!
Your guide adds enormously to your special holiday adventure - it goes without saying - bring euros with you and tip like you mean it.
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