VALLEE BLANCHE USEFUL INFORMATION
FOR YOUR SAFETY THE MOST IMPORTANT PHYSICAL AND TECHNICAL LEVELS
Vallee Blanche is a high altitude route (3842 meters to 1030 meters) on non prepared snow, off-piste, on a crevassed glacier. Therefore this descent technical grade is variable and can't be compared to traditionnal ski in a resort.
The notions of middle level skier, or advanced are different among people, it will be easier for the professional to decide whether or not the descent is possible by getting information about (this concerns particularly the less advanced level skier in the team):
-Your ease on pistes (blue, red or black piste)?
-The resorts you have been to, and which pistes and off-pistes you've skied?
-Your ability among moguls?
-Your experience or not off-piste skiing?
-Your physical condition (which sports, which level, how often?)?
-Your tool: ski or snowboard?
Vallee Blanche is more difficult to snowboard and is reserved for very good boarders, because some parts are not steep and traversing, compulsory for a few of them.
While crossing it will be necessary for boarders following the track to not loose any altitude to not come dangerously close to any crevasse
Skiers and boarders follow different curves, which makes it difficult to guide both in the same team: snowboard implicating a steeper routes choice, skiers will need a good off-piste ability to follow these itineraries.
The less technically or physically advanced skier level will make the global team level. (Attention to not come with a friend to please her or him and end in a trap)
Evidently an off-piste experience will allow you to navigate easily, but we also guide resourceful piste skiers in case not cumulating too many weak points: low fitness level associated with a limited ski level for example.
Of course the guide will be here to help you in a professional way, patiently and carefully, the aim isn’t the performance here.
We are not elitist but want to give an objective, rational, non commercial information about Vallee Blanche realities and the reasonable risk management to plan this route.
Why book? This shows your commitment and makes sure of getting a high mountain guide on time.
Team size : It’s preferable for safety to limit the number to 6 participants maximum. Evidently, if less experienced skiers participate, it will be reasonable to decrease the team size in order the guide pays more attention to them.
Some periods are very busy, so, early booking is essential to be guaranteed to be with a professional.
Booking is validated after having sent a 100 euros draft, through Paypal or bank transfer.
The balance will be paid on the day the of the descent.
Cancellation is decided by the guide, being in a good place to judge weather and snow conditions.
In case of cancellation, Paypal payment is better to pay you back, without any problem if the reason for cancellation is due to bad snow/weather circumstances and not to poor motivation of the participants behalf.
An other descent will be proposed to you if you want it, there are many very interesting possibilities in Mont Blanc valleys.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE GUIDE
Your guide will contact you (email and phone) the latest one week prior to the descent (if you have booked in advance).
In order to give you directly the last information concerning necessary equipment, to speak about your technical and physical level, the meeting time might be fixed by the guide on cable-car busy days or because of the weather forecast, not by the participants.
It also will be necessary to give us a phone number you will use in Chamonix in order to allow us to contact you before the descent eventually.
A contact in the evening prior to the descent (preferably between 17 and 18 h) will be very important to exchange the latest information concerning the meeting time and place, the descent conditions, to recheck the participants number and their level.
If you have to drive a long distance in the morning a rational evaluation of the conditions will be made beforehand to avoid any unnecessary journey.
THE DAY OF THE DESCENT
Be on time, half an hour minimum is necessary to prepare yourself after having parked the car, before taking the cable-car.
To start at 9 for example, it’s preferable to reach Chamonix at 8:15.
(Time to park, prepare, buy tickets)
There’s a big paid car parking: the Grepon parking is opposite to Aiguille du Midi. When you come from Geneve it’s on right side of first roundabout after “CHAMONIX MONT-BLANC” sign.
When you come from top of the valley it’s on left side of 2nd roundabout after having passed the Montenvers small train railway track.
A backpack might be useful to fix skis and get both hands free to walk down on the Vallee Blanche starting ridge.
Bring some drinks and food even if a stop might be planned at Requin hut in the middle of the descent (about 15 euros per person for a meal). If you opt for picnic on the glacier bring some also for the guide: that’s the tradition.
The cable-car cost is 45 euros per person if there’s snow down to Chamonix
Mont Blanc unlimited ski pass, 56 euros per person will be necessary in case skiing ends near Montenvers train top station.
There exists lower prices for people less than 15 years and more than 65 years old , also for families and also in December and April, have a look on “Compagnie du Mont Blanc” site.
Plan warm clothes and good gloves for high altitude skiing, sun cream and sun glasses
Here is a gear list (we will provide you with a harness and an avalanche safety transceiver)
Skis boots, poles or snowboard and telescopic poles
Back pack [20 to 50l] * if you have one prefer it supplying skis attachments
Sun glasses, ski mask.
Water bottle and some food (bars, chocolate, sandwich….)
Linergloves and warm gloves
Ski trousers and jacket
-Never take off your skis or your snowboard, the preasure on snow will increase and multiplicate the risk of fall into a crevasse breaking a snowbridge.
-Be able to stop anytime in case on non expected obstacle
-Keep permanently the view on the terrain for anticipating your next turns (for exemple never jump a bump if you don't know how it is behind this bump)
-Stop always above the guide
-Comply with the orders of the guide (ski 10 meters on the left, on the right of the track of the guide, ski exactly in the track of the guide...)
-Keep a mimimum distance of10 meters between each skier.
About 20 minutes are necessary to reach Aiguille du Midi, on top we will put on the harness and the transceiver before starting the descent.
We will rope up to walk down the Aiguille du Midi ridge.
The guide will then communicate you the specific glacier skiing information, these rules have to be followed for your safety.
We will ski one the Vallee Blanche routes, chosen by the guide, looking at the skiers level, this down to Montenvers train or to Chamonix if possible.
We generally come back between 13 h. 30 and 16 h. to Chamonix this depending on participants level.
A useful shuttle brings back the skiers to the departure parking close to Aiguille du Midi.
Vallee Blanche isn’t the most adapted route for snowboarding but we regularly guide boarders.
Why a good technical level is required ?
Vallee Blanche has low steepness slopes and crosses where keeping the altitude is necessary to avoid dangerous glacier parts.
That’s the most difficult for snowboarders.
Therefore to cross some low steepness areas, it’s necessary to take speed, to anticipate and in the direction of well read the terrain to avoid crevasses.
What helps make the descent easier?
Wax the board correctly at good temperature and get telescopic poles.
It’s absolutely necessary that boarders opt for a steeper Vallee Blanche glacier area such as Envers du Plan glacier.
Therefore it’s not possible to mix boarders and intermediary level skiers in a team, this is unmanageable.
The intermediary level skiers will prefer the classic route less steep slopes, very inconvenient to snowboarders whilst boarders will find easy the Envers du Plan slopes where intermediary level skiers would be technically overtaken.
VALLEE BLANCHE WEEK-END: (possible also the week)
An unforgettable week end, discovering two of the main off piste skiing areas in the Chamonix valley : the Grands Montets and the Aiguille du Midi with as a bonus a night spent in the ambiance of a mountain hut, normally very calm at this time of year.
D1: Morning. At the Grands Montets (3300 m). Skiing on the Argentière glacier and many other off pist routes of this outstanding ski area depending on your skiing ability. Afternoon,cable car to the summit of Aiguille du Midi (3842 m), then the first part of the Vallée Blanche to the Cosmiques hut for the night.
D2: Ski down the Vallée Blanche, we start early in the morning just before all the skiers starting from the 1st cable car of the Aiguille du Midi, just you and the Valley Blanche...
Sking standart level: French ski school levels 2 and 3
Dates: Every week-end (and during the week) from mid february until mid-may, depending on the snow conditions. (4 personns minimum)
Price: 370 euros per personn (170 euros for guiding + 200 euros for the common fees: mountain hut on half board basis and valley ski pass)