This page is a continuation of what it is really like skiing the Valle Blanche. The Vallee Blanche Chamonix is THE iconic run in the world, dropping 2800m and a breathtaking 17km. It's ungroomed and it is truly an adventure skiing through Forests of Ice Towers and across snow bridges over crevasses.
If you want to ski the glacier, you can’t start too early in the season as there needs to be sufficient snow coverage to form snow bridges.
You start off from the small level area at the bottom of the climb down from the cable car building. This wide valley with wind compacted snow is the famous off-piste Valle Blanche. You descend down this bowl heading around the shoulder of a peak, skiing on the side of a mountain till you get onto the glacier, the Mer de Glace.
This is the google satellite map of the amazing glacier.
The ski route heads left along the contours of this mountain. Our guide took us to areas of fresh untracked snow and we skied down in steep “steps”, as we descended to the level of the glacier. The snow condition at the time we skied, was not powder; it had more texture as it was wind compacted.
One section was very steep and we were roped down 20 meters as we side slipped down a very icy steep face. The easy route probably wouldn’t have involved a section like this.
You’ll know when you’re on the glacier … it’s ultra rugged, jagged terrain. After skiing over a few snow bridges, our guide went looking for steeper skiing on the mountain face.
It truly was an adventure.
Take care not to ski ahead of the guide so as not to get into problem areas. He’s there after all, to guide. If you want to do gung-ho things, just ask the instructor. He’ll just dial up the level of difficulty of the experience.
There’s no rush and he’ll guide as you ski at your pace. There’s time to take photos and to take lots of breaks. Our guide pointed out interesting features on the glacier and the geography of the terrain.
There’s no reason why any family without beginners with them, couldn’t do it. The ski guides know the routes best suited to the skiing ability of the party. There are different routes depending on snow conditions and request to "dial -up" a steeper and more difficult route. The Valle Blanche is do-able for high intermediates.
But remember, once, you're off the shelter in the Aiguille du Midi Cable Car Housing, you're committed. You can find out more about this adventure in Chamonix. There's no question about it - off piste means danger.
We booked our excellent ski guide from the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix Mont Blanc.
Valle Blanche Ski Guide
It took us a leisurely 3 hours to enjoy this adventure, with lots of breaks and time to enjoy lunch at the café on the glacier.
Actual skiing time will vary from party to party. You could "do" the glacier in half the time, and others may take longer to enjoy the scenery. The objective is to enjoy this skiing adventure.
All valle trails converged as they approached the café, which is also a refuge.
It’s about 2/3’s of the way down the valle from Aiguille du Midi to the end of the glacier ski run at Montenvers. It sits beneath Aiguille du Grepon at an altitude of 2500m. There’s a steel grated helipad which we saw in action as a helicopter took out an Italian girl who’d got into bother on the glacier.
The café serves hot drinks such as tea, coffee and mulled wine and when it’s stocked up during the peak season, it serves hot food. Choice, of course, is limited as it’s difficult getting supplies in.
It’s a sturdy stone building with basic timber benches and an outdoor terrace. The views across the valle over the Mer de Glace are spectacular.
Shortly after the café, there’s a steep, reasonably broad section of mountain to get down the 250 m or so to the glacier. All skiers are funneled down here.
As there’d been no fresh snow at the time we skied, this was a mogul field. The moguls were large and wide, not like competition moguls. It was a broad track and the bumps were not deeply rutted, but it was enough to cause difficulty for some people.
After that, you’re on the glacier and most stay on it till the end of the trail. This is much easier skiing, picking a route along the snow bridges.
The end of glacier is at an altitude of 2200m and the start off at Aiguille du Midi is an altitude of 3700m.
When there’s sufficient snow coverage, the trail goes down all the way to the village.
When the route to the village is closed, the run ends at the Ice Caves at Mer de Glace at Montenvers.
It ends at a moraine field; 600m further down, there are small ponds, melts which are the source of the river that runs through town, Torrent l’Arveyron.
Moraine Field At End of Glacier
You’ll find it tricky skiing to avoid rocks as you approach Montenvers.
At the end is a massive climb up 350 stairs up to a little cable car takes you to the level at the Montenvers train station.
Valle Blanche - The Last Uphill
There is a café at the station and a restaurant close by.
The rack and pinion train returns skiers to town.
Skiing the Valle Blanch, was a challenging and special experience. Our guide made all the difference. We experienced:
• the easy route along the valle floor, which is mainly on the Mer de Glace, going over snow bridges and it’s not as steep
• and the difficult routes, which were areas that are even steeper
• fresh untracked snow
• an altogether different scenery on the rugged route
• amazing panoramic views of the Alps.
We were “done” for the day.
Our Vallee Blanche experience was Fan-tas-tic!
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