/ uk to the alps by train
all tips and ideas welcome. this is the first time I've even looked into alpine mountaineering
The train is feasible. I went to Bourg St Maurice in December last year from Inverness and it cost me £146 single.
Sleeper to London, sprint along Euston road, Eurostar to Paris, frantic transfer to Gare de Lyon and then change in Chambery. It was good fun.
You can book trains on the SNCF website that you can't on the Eurostar one.
You should be looking for the west side of the Chamonix Valley, v.steep. V.steep and straight into glaciers everywhere on the East side. I walked on the other side of Mont Blanc in Italy where there is beauty for a soloist with much scrambling and a avoidable serious glaciation for massive walks or even the summit of 4000m Gran Paradiso quite lightly alpine equiped from the south. The Valle d'Aosta.
Good campsites and cafes to meet people either side.
Pyrenees I expect too, more remote here though if you're seriously following the peaks.
From your profile it looks like you enjoy a bit of cragging so one step might be long rock routes in an alpine setting. You can do this in places like aiguille rouges above Chamonix , another alternative might be the Ariege with some local knowledge..
Ailfroide in the Ecrins has better weather than Cham plus walking, cragging, alpine routes from one place.
Lots of BMC clubs run summer Alpine trips so that may be an alternative- This is a good book!
There is of course a bus service to Chamonix. But for a first alpine trip, look at the area round Lac Annecy. A dozen scrambly peaks with no glaciers to get a first experience of the ambience tho admittedly not the same bus shuttle service up and down the valley. Also train access.
There is also a night train from Paris to Saint Gervais les Bains, where you can get another train on to Chamonix. You leave Paris at about 11pm and you're in Chamonix by 10 the following morning.
What do people think, is the Italian side better for soloing (i.e. fewer glaciated approaches)?
Probably cheaper and definately faster to fly...
If you book well enough in advance you can get really cheap tickets for European trains, the distance in advance you can book will vary based on country and train used (look at seat 61 for more information that will be up to date). French trains are a joy to use as well. I travelled to Switzerland at half term and tickets worked out at about £60 return for the Eurostar and €25 each for Paris-Geneva and Bern-Paris singles.
It used to be fairly easy to find English speaking climbing partners in the Bar Nationale in the centre of Chamonix, not far from Snell Sports.
Could someone who has been recently confirm if this is still the case ?
Hi R, I'm pushing down Valle d'Aosta not staying at Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco to say soloing easier, but I do mean some scrambling as walking solo than solo climbing of tricky lines. j
the thinking with catching the train for comfort and being able to take plenty of kit without being ripped off for being over on luggage.
i kind of wrote the bus off as it just eats into time and i hate coaches :D
any good walking/cragging/scrambling guide books for cham?
if it is easy to meet people to climb with that would be brilliant!
thanks for the replays guys all very helpful.
There is a bus to Ailefroide from I think Argentiere en Besse. It's a couple of stops south on the railway to Briancon from Gap. Night train from Paris, about 60 Euros return. Many other locations in the Ecrins, with a variety of rock.
Getting there by plane require you to hire a car, more or less.
If you're looking for a good base, there's a nice hostel in Les Houches called Gites Michel Fagot. There's a good bakery next door and decent food shops just up the road. You get free public transport in the Cham valley if you're staying there - just ask your hosts for the card. Snell Sports in Cham sell screw-on gas. Lots of non-glacial terrain in the Aiguilles Rouges, and very pretty and quiet on the north side. Bus from Cham through the tunnel to Cormayeur if you want to explore the Italian side - many more options for 2500 - 3500m. What time of year are you going?
i haven't decided a date yet, I'm fairly flexible really!
Maurice who owned the Bar Nash in its heyday died several years ago. Apparently he spent his last years confined to his rooms above the bar as he went blind. He was always famously cross eyed, as was his daughter.
On my last visit to Cham two years ago the Bar had gone upmarket and thee was no sign of any British climbers. No doubt somebody with more recent local knowledge will be able to fill in the details.
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