/ Alternatives to Chamonix

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jasonC abroad - on 11 Jan 2018

Hello All

Being nagged by a friend who wants to go to the Alps (this summer), he has very little leading experience or trad experience and no Alpine experience, so I was wondering if anyone has any good suggestions as to a good place for us to go rather than Chamonix.

We'd be looking for basic mountaineering routes and possible some longish but easy rock routes.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Post edited at 17:56
goatee - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

Saas Fee/Grund..Lots of mountaineering routes plus rock routes.


John R - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad: Ecrins (( La Berarde or Ailefroide), Arolla, eastern side of Bernese Oberland, even Saas valley would all be much better suited to your purposes than Chamonix. In fact, arguably at least, most alternatives would. OK, you may not have the mechanical uplift of Chamonix, but approach walks are a great way of building fitness and learning how the hills fit together; and don't be seduced by the need to climb big name peaks or go for sheer altitude. All the areas I have mentioned offer fantastic possibilities on lower peaks with fewer access problems. And, depending on when you plan to go, you are likely to find campsites, huts and routes less busy than Chamonix. Have fun, wherever you end up going, John.


HammondR on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

Also have a think about the Bregaglia/Bernina in Switzerland. Super Alpine rock climbing, and if you are early enough in the season, terrific snow and ice routes. Glorious walk ins.


jasonC abroad - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

Thanks for all those suggestions, looking them up at the moment.

MG - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

Aosta valley in Italy is good. Lots of lower peaks and classic routes. Friendly, and wine etc


teh_mark on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

The Ecrins are very pleasant. Lots of big single and mulitpitch sport (and some trad) in Ailefroide at all grades, and up the valley there's a lot of amenable accessible alpine routes off the Glacier Blanc if your friend was looking to dip his toes in those waters. It was the first area of the Alps I ever visited as a climber (firstly as a rock climber, and a few years later as a 'debutant alpinist'), and I've been back several times since.

Post edited at 21:26
James Jackson on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to John R:

> Ecrins (( La Berarde or Ailefroide)

I started Alpine climbing in Ailefroide back in 2003, then went back two more times before branching out. It's an absolutely beautiful place, with multi-pitch granite cragging and bouldering in the valley, and some amazing Alpine routes up high. We got fit - by the end of each trip we'd be smashing out high mixed routes in a day from the valley base.


Wildabeast - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

I was in the same position last season.  We ended up going to Austria...


Bolted alpine routes, lots of easy grades

Paint marked routes, decent routes always double bolt belay

Great rock, great situations, less altitude

Cheaper huts, friendlier and less elitist

Shorter walk ins, more to reach without glacier travel

Better beer

In general we have found the weather more stable


Guide books are crap, though lots of free online topos which are simple to translate



If you want more info, give me a message.  There is a hut (if you sleep in the winter hut its 5 euro a night) which serves loads of great routes and the guardians are English speaking.  They can link you into loads of local routes, most of them they have set and checked yearly themselves.  I also have a load of cheap places to stay and fly into and if you fancy doing more commitment higher altitude routes, there is always Grossglockner Studlegrat!



HarrisonConnie1996 - on 22 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

I made the mistake of going to Chamonix on my first (non-guided) alpine climbing holiday, don't get me wrong, Cham is an amazing place, but for a first time trip I'd personally stay clear of this area until you have enough experience to go and enjoy it.

Arolla is an awesome little area in the Valais Alps of Switzerland, I have been a few times now and will be returning in the summer for a week before heading over to the Saas area.

Arolla has got a bit of everything really, mild to wild and much cheaper than more developed area's such as Cham, Zermatt and Grindelwald (no cable cars)

Evolene is probably the best place to base yourself if you have a car, but there is also a campsite further up the valley in Arolla itself, you can access most stuff easily from here. 

Have a look at stuff like Pigne d'Arolla, L'Eveque, Mont Blanc de Cheilon and Aiguille de la Tza - Plenty to do, including Via Feratta and some sport climbing too. 



rocksol - on 22 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

There're loads of easy routes in Chamonix and plenty in the Aiguilles Rouge, accessible from lifts.

Anyone that can lead up to V.S. trad can have a great time.

Also Mer de Glacé is great a place to practice ice techniques, I used to take my kids there when they were younger. 

What  is sure is that there are not any mountains in Western Europe that are as varied and impressive.

Go for it and enjoy!

Jim Lancs on 23 Jan 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

I have fond memories of Bernina / Bregalia for one of my first alpine trips. Perhaps there was more snow and ice back then, but I remember classic Alpine routes everywhere you looked. 


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