Chamonix is a resort on a huge scale with exceptional range and terrain to suit everyone. Although a popular choice with families, where this resort really excels is with experts and intermediates. So if you are looking for the best freeriding resort in the French Alps. Look no further than Chamonix, the self-proclaimed capital of all-mountain skiing.
The Chamonix Mont Blanc Valley
The resort (1035m) is located at the foot of Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc which stands at an immense 4,807m. It boasts almost 120km of well-groomed piste’s which translates into 85 runs, 66% of which are categorised as black or red. Making Chamonix the perfect resort for alpine thrill-seekers.
Transfers to Chamonix
Travelling to Chamonix is remarkably easy, it can be reached in just 1 hour from Geneva Airport. It’s also well connected by rail, with the Chamonix and Argentiere stations within easy reach. The ski area does not disappoint either. You will get access to three mountains with Le Pass and you can upgrade to an Unlimited Pass at any time to take advantage of a fourth mountain, Les Houches, plus the challenging Grand Montets ski area and the impressive Aiguille du Midi lift.
The quality of slopes is second to none and the more advanced freeriders looking for steep glacier runs won’t be disappointed here.
Chamonix Mont-Blanc, the resort
Chamonix is commonly known as the birthplace of alpine skiing and was the host of the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924. The resort’s stunning architecture reflects its impressive snow sports history, and with a traffic free centre. It’s is one of the safest resorts in the Alps – with plenty of ski shops.
When I’m looking for a resort that will really push me to the extreme, Chamonix is always the first to come to mind. It has one of the longest ski seasons in the Alps, the quality of slopes is second to none and the more advanced freeriders looking for steep glacier runs won’t be disappointed here.
For Alpine Thrill-Seekers
The Le Tour ski area is a valley right on the Swiss border which offers unrivalled tree-lined terrain and gentle off-piste which is ideal for intermediates. If you are looking for something more demanding then head over to Les Grands Montets. With over 2000m of vertical glaciated descents and two 1300m vertical black runs, it really is a must for advanced skiers.
To really take things to the next level board the Aiguille du Midi cable car with the Unlimited Pass and ascend up the glacier to 3842m, where you will be rewarded with the best views in the whole resort and the gateway to the legendary 20km long Vallée Blanche.
Although not too technically difficult, the Valée Blanche can be extremely dangerous. This should only be attempted by off-piste experts accompanied by a professional mountain guide.
Which Ski Pass?
When staying in Chamonix you have the choice of two lift pass options; Chamonix Le Pass and the Mont Blanc Ultimate Pass. Le Pass is more suited towards beginners and intermediates, it gives you access to all of the Chamonix ski areas except the very top of Grands Montets. You also get the Vallee beginners area included and can use the Chamonix Vallee shuttles and buses for free.
For the more adventurous there is the Mont Blanc Ultimate Pass. This bumper pass gives you freedom of all areas and lifts, including the Aiguille du Midi cable car. You can also take advantage of other resorts such as Verbier 4 Vallées which is just over the Swiss border. Then treat yourself to unlimited visits to the pool, ice rink and museum in Chamonix.
If you’ve booked for the start if the season, hoping for good snow conditions and less crowded runs, the First Snow prices for adults on a 3 day ski holiday trip will only be just over €100 – just make sure it’s purchased from November 24th to December 31st 2018.
Families and beginners will enjoy the Les Houches area with its 12 red runs, 5 easy blue slopes, 2 family-friendly green and 2 good black pistes. Just remember that, although the Les Houches Pass gives you free access to the Tramway du Mont Blanc. It does not actually include the ski areas of Chamonix (Chamonix Le Pass).
Vallée Blanche – The Ultimate Off-Piste Experience
Vallée Blanche is an uncontrolled paradise which is famous the world over. This legendary uncontrolled piste is the longest in Europe. Boasting over 20km powder as it winds its way from Aiguille du Midi. All the way to Chamonix.
Although not too technically difficult, the Valée Blanche can be extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by off-piste experts accompanied by a professional mountain guide. It is also mandatory to take a shovel, avalanche transceiver and probes in your backpack. Check out my top five skiing and snowboarding backpacks for this ski season.
Hire a Mountain guide
Whenever you are going off the beaten track, it’s always recommended that you take an alpine mountain guide with you so that you can get the most out of your adventure. Reach the Maison des Guides in the centre of town. Guides are very experienced professionals who help you to safely enjoy mountain activities such as; climbing, skiing, trekking and trail running expeditions all-throughout the year.
So, winter holidays are round the corner and ski resorts will open in a couple of days. Get geared up now and benefit from great discounts on the store before you set off to the slopes.
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