When in Cham, skiing the Vallee Blanche Chamonix is a MUST!
the most legendary run in the world – the off-piste ski down the
glacier, Mer de Glace is 17km with a descent of 2800m to the village.
Valle Blanche is seriously AWE-SOME!
The glacier Mer de Glace was so named by two young English explorers in the 18th century as the waves in the glacier reminded them of the sea. Mer de Glace means Sea of Ice, an apt description as the ice floes look like frozen waves. This picture of the glacier taken in summer shows the undulating surface of the glacier.
You’ll have heard all about the fantastic, unique skiing experience here and in this page, we’ll share with you what to really expect from this off-piste adventure.
Vallee Blanche Chamonix The Glacier in Summer
The glacier is surprisingly rugged. It’s not a smooth river of ice and the glacier doesn’t follow a smooth regular gradient. The glacier which is tens of metres thick is flowing over an irregular valley floor with drops, then regular patches. So, when it passes over the lip of a cascade or drop in the valley floor, the surface of the glacier develops deep cracks. These are the crevasses that form because the glacier is not sufficiently plastic.
The surface looks really, really rugged; it’s not a smooth surface. There are great pillars of ice, pillars, spires and deep, deep crevasses. There needs to be a lot of snow to fill these in to make a path to ski on.
Through the season, a lot of that relief would be filled in with fresh snow.
You’ll see enormous ice and snow towers called serac; you’ll come across forests of seracs. There are huge chunks of rocks and boulders of ice littered over the glacier terrain interspersed with crevasses. These are formed as the glacier moves and the top surface gets completely broken up.
Skiing on the glacier is possible only after sufficient snow’s fallen to fill in the crevasses. It is extremely dangerous and you must ski with a guide. The guides know where the snow bridges have formed and which snow platforms are safe.
This rough terrain makes for wonderful adventurous off-piste skiing.
Seracs, Vallee Blanche Chamonix
It’s recommended that skiers on the Vallee Blanche be of a good intermediate level. Having skied on the glacier, we’d suggest you certainly wouldn’t bring a snow-plougher to ski the Vallee Blanche. Skiers need to be able to ski capably on any terrain and in any snow conditions.
are standard routes down the Mer de Glace, but there are variants to that
route so that skiers are able to experience skiing at various levels of
difficulty. Your ski guide will ask you what experience you’d like:
The easy route down the Vallee Blanche is skiing mainly on the glacier as it’s mostly of a level gradient. Increasingly more difficult routes mean skiing on the side of the mountain for steeper slopes.
You can get as easy or as adventurous an experience as you choose. Just ask your ski guide.
We “dialed up” a medium level difficulty and it was right for us. Our guide took us on a variant to the standard routes so that we skied on fresh untracked snow and steep areas.
The ski guide will assess your skiing capabilities and will take you on the route best suited.
Skiing the Vallee Blanche made for a fantastic adventure. Here’s what made the experience special for us.
• Fresh untracked snow
• Crevasses to avoid
• Steep challenging slopes
• Panoramic scenery
• Fairly easy, level skiing on the glacier
• Difficult icy mountain faces
• It’s not the sort of thing you do normally
• This really is an unique skiing experience
• It was really challenging
• It was steep, deep with ever present danger
It really was an adventure.
We’d recommend you hire crampons. The ski hire shop will adjust them to your boot size. The crampons will make your life so much easier and will stop you sliding on the icy patches, when you descend the slope down from the top of the Aiguille du Midi cable car station.
This is the slope you climb down to the start of your Vallee Blanche adventure.
Unlike the steel staircase at the top of the Les Grands Montets, this slope is completely natural. There is a rope to act as a hand-rail; the climb down does get icy in patches. Crampons are definitely the go here.
Vallee Blanche Chamonix Climb Down To Start
See the little ants going down the slope? That's the skiers descending to the starting point
Your guide will have the following safety equipment to kit your party:
• Ice picks
• Avalanche locator
• Abseiling harnesses
He’ll kit you out before you start your run down the Vallee Blanche. There are special instructions on the use of the avalanche locator. …and yes, the safety gear was used - our party was tethered together at steep icy sections of the mountain.
Vallee Blanche Chamonix Skier Tethered
You’ll need to bring your crampons, picnic lunch, bottled water and sunscreen. Of course, you’ll know as experienced skiers that mountain weather changes rapidly, so go prepared for any weather.
To read more about what skiing on the glacier is really like, please click to go to the next page on the Valle Blanche. It's the insider's report on:
• The Skiing Experience
• Where To Book A Guide
• The Refuge
• Mogul Field
• The End of the Trail
Skiing the Vallee Blanche Chamonix is an unforgettable experience. It truly is an adventure and we highly recommend this.
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