/ How to spend 10 days in Cham?

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Dave McKechnie - on 12 Feb 2013
Afternoon all,

My girlfriend and I are going back to Chamonix in late August / early September for approx 10 days.

In terms of experience, I've lead a couple of Severe climbs last year (although will hopefully be a lot more comfortable leading Severe by the end of August!!), we're both competent walkers in the UK, have both summited Gran Paradiso (albeit as part of an organised group) and are both competent ice axe and crampon users but not much more than that - never done any winter climbing.

I am after some suggestions as to how to spend 10 days there. I'd like to get someone to take us out for a couple of days to show us general alpine stuff but the cost of a guide is eye watering but I'm not confident enough to go wandering off doing mountaineering stuff in the mountains myself, other than a hut to hut walk somewhere in the Aiguille Rouges.

Any other suggestions as to what to do?

What about L'Index? Looks pretty iconic. Isn't it a fairly steady multi-pitch sport climb???


All suggestions welcome!
Fredt on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

Are you intent on climbing? If not, then just walking to huts is a great way to explore and see a lot.

If you want to climb, there'll be more suggestions from others, but for any climbing in the Alps you need to be able to move fast, scramble together, downclimb confidently and abseil slickly. You must both be able to place gear.

The Index is fine, the first move is severe, the rest is much easier. (until the abseil down from the summit).
GridNorth - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie: The Index is not a sport climb but it is easy and does not involve a glacier approach. Buy a book and the BMC Alpine Essentials DVD and then take the train up to Montenvers to practice what you have learned on the Mer de Glace. It's a dry glacier with lots of big open crevasses and easy access. There are also plenty of rock climbs between the Plan and Requin Huts that are trad but with fixed belays and possibly less serious than a day on Cloggy. Then are also lots more rock routes on the Aig Rouges side.
LakesWinter on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

There's loads of steady multi pitch sport in the Aiguilles Rouges. L'Index, Mani Puliti, Nez Rouge for starters, though I think the crux pitches on the last 2 are 4+ ish or UK HS/VS but all bolted.

There are much better places in the Alps for novice alpinism. Arolla, Saas Fee, Ecrins for starters. Each of these venues has more easy alpine routes to choose from and less crowding than Chamonix. Arranging a British guide to show you stuff for 2 days at the start would be a great investment. the Pigne d'Arolla is a nice glacier peak which should be ok on your own once you've had some input. Have fun
Ramblin dave - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:
Despite the cheesy title, this:
http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/663/title/chamonix-mountain-adventures
is really good.

My girlfriend and I had a similar trip with a similar level of experience last year. Stuff that we found to do:
* various sport climbing - les Cheserys is good for multipitch slab stuff, and there's loads of valley cragging
* overnight stay at the Lac Blanc hut - could combine with the Crochues traverse or the Belverdere
* walk up from Le Buet along the Tre-les-Eaux valley - really cool, a few chains and ladders, feels very wild and remote at the top. We popped up the Point de la Terrace and back via the Chalet de Loriaz, you could also take a bivi, make a two dayer of it and go up Mont Buet.
MG - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie: Having done the GP, would you be comfortable doing something similar by yourselves? If so there are a number of options available that aren't really "wandering off doing mountaineering" but are very much in the mountains. In Chamonix the options for this sort of thing are a bit limited (or very crowded) but if you went through the tunnel there are things in the Aosta valley you could try such as La Tresenta from the VE hut (the same one as for the GP), or Gran Serra from the Vittoria Sella hut in Val di Cogne. Also think about Zermatt or Saas Fee with peaks like the Allalinhorn or Castor (a little harder).

There are plenty of rock routes in Chamonix but others will know more than me.
Dave McKechnie - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

Thanks all. Keep the suggestions coming!!!

We don't have to climb but it would be good to do a bit whilst we're there. Climbing L'Index whilst looking over to MB looks awesome!!

Also re huts - do the wardens speak English as I don't fancy trying to book a night's stay over the phone if they don't?!?
prog99 on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:
Only ever had one hut night there(Albert Premier) and we wandered into the CAF office and they phoned up for us. Turned out the warden was more than fluent in english anyway.

Mont Buet is a nice peak to do if you want something with good views.
fergie on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

I recommend the UCPA's Introduction to Alpinism course. I booked through action-outdoors.co.uk but they don't have their summer program on the website yet.

Is 1 week rather than 2 days though so might be too long for you.

Toby_W on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

I think I've done the L'Index.

Do the Pappilon ridge (I think that's what it's called).

Fantastic, not very hard but with gorgeous exposure and views climbing a stack of granite dominos the size of cars. Think Cauldrons rather than jugs.

Cheers

Toby
blurty - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Toby_W:

The Papillon is III/ IV I think, and the descent involves a bit of tricky traversing/ routefinding & walking on the Pellerin Glacier.
Toby_W on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to blurty:

Cheers, the memory fades and leaves only the view and the granite ;-)

Toby
blurty - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Toby_W:

Yep, it's a great route
Dave McKechnie - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

Any more ideas folks??
Guy - on 12 Feb 2013
Mark / Alps - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

Loads to do:

Another walk:
From the half way station of the Aiguille Midi to Montenvers station is an awesome walk.Great views of peaks /routes / glaciers.
For rock climbing there are many bolted valley crags with all grades. Le Gailland just out of town is a good place to warm up and is very well bolted. Great views, 1 minute walk in, beer within 2 minutes.Best in morning or late afternoon as it can get very hot. Vallorcine slab is a fun multipitch venue. You can buy the Vamos valley cragging guide in English both in UK and in Chamonix. You will soon be leading harder grades if you wish.
Lots of routes in the Aiguilles Rouges.The Piola Guide also in English and available in UK as well as in Cham. Index is good, mostly trad with some fixed gear, exposed, abseil descent, often very busy. For a quiet experience best done in the afternoon followed by a bivvy / camp near the base. The Southwest arete on the Grande Floria is usually a straightforward scramble to a lovely summit. Belvedere normal route is goodfun. Lots of other awesome VS and above bolted routes around if you get practicing.
Vamos guide 'Easy ascents in the Mont Blanc Range' should keep you busy. Going down the ladders to the Mer De Glace glacier is worthwhile for some glacier skills practice and top rope ice climbing. Walk up to the Albert Premier hut for a bivvy or hut stay. Easy access for wet glacier practice if you have learned the skills. Also many easy peaks / routes from here if you have learned the rope skills to walk on a glacier. Aiguille Tour is a popular first target. Glacier walking and some easy scrambling.
Can a local climbing club help you with some of the skills / advice and practice needed? How about some practice / training at a climbing wall.
By the way, Papillons Ridge is awesome but is 12 pitches and has some French 5c / 6a moves so not recommended for you just yet.

Scott_vzr on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
'There are also plenty of rock climbs between the Plan and Requin Huts that are trad but with fixed belays and possibly less serious than a day on Cloggy. '

Are you sure ?

Lots more loose rock, route finding and big thunderstorms out there....

Sam_in_Leeds - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave McKechnie:

I went for 10 days in early July 2005.

I spent 9 days in a tent waiting for the rain to stop.

Dare I say a good book should be on the agenda!

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