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Glacier Hiking on La Mer de Glace, an Amazing High-Mountain Experience in Chamonix

Marina ParraAugust 01, 2019

Lying on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif, the imposing Mer de Glace (which means ‘Sea of Ice’) is one of the first-class attractions for those visiting the Chamonix Valley.

The longest and largest glacier in France ―ranking second in the list of the largest glaciers in the Alps, behind the Aletsch Glacier― boasts unrivaled views of some of the most iconic peaks in Europe, like L’Aiguille Verte, L’Aiguille du Dru, and Les Grandes Jorasses.  

During the summer months, La Mer de Glace is a dry glacier (it has no snow on its surface). This turns it into a perfect playground for exploration. Taking a glacier hiking trip with a certified mountain guide is a unique opportunity to discover a surreal landscape made of blue glacial ice, ice caves, crevasses, and glacier lakes. 

Equipped with the appropriate gear ―which consists of mountaineering boots, harness, crampons, helmet, and an ice axe― you will learn the essentials of glacier travel and even try your hand at ice climbing!


Clara and her guide Daniel, ready to start exploring Mer de Glace! Photo courtesy of Daniel Pobega.

“The best experience in Chamonix! Everything was great, I met the guide one day before to check all the equipment, and it was amazing. Very professional, great views, and great glacier climbing classes! I SUPER recommend having this experience!”, says Clara, who took a glacier hiking trip in Mer de Glace with aspirant mountain guide Daniel Pobega this July. 

This glacier hiking program in Mer de Glace is suitable for all ages and makes for a great first experience in a high mountain environment. You don’t need to be an expert hiker to join in; your guide will make sure you learn the basics, while you spend an enjoyable and safe time doing something you never imagined you were capable of!

Booking a mountain guide ensures you the company of an expert, who knows the terrain and conditions like the back of their hand, and can provide valuable advice on how to manage different situations:

“The guide was extremely knowledgeable and experienced, making us feel very comfortable and well taken care of. Not only did we have a spectacular hike, but we felt safe the whole time”, says Raina, who recently went glacier hiking with IFMGA guide Viktor Varoshkin.

Keep reading: 5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Mountain Guide for Your Next Adventure

Jump! Feel the adrenaline of trying something new. Photo courtesy of Kyriakos Rossidis.

La Mer de Glace is also an ideal destination if you want to hone your skills before attempting a more challenging mountaineering goal. That’s exactly the reason why a group of friends planning to tackle Mont Blanc next summer decided to take this one-day trip. 

“This was a great experience for us. Super well organized and any questions we had beforehand were answered immediately”, says Cris, a member of the group that was led by IFMGA guide Tomas Mueller. “Our guide was very well qualified, allowed us to have lots of fun (safely) and challenged us to learn new skills. I highly recommend it!”.


This group of friends took this trip as an introduction to mountaineering. Photo courtesy of Tomas Mueller.
Photo courtesy of Tomas Mueller.

Mountaineering is a step-by-step process, and big goals shouldn’t be underestimated. This trip is the perfect introduction to mountaineering, combining glacier travel techniques, as well as some ice climbing and steep climbing. No matter what kind of objectives you have in mind, your mountain guide can help you adapt the journey to match your specific needs. Besides, the small guide ratio (max 4 clients per guide) allows for a highly personalized experience. 

Finally, on a more environmental note, going on this trip to La Mer de Glace is also an opportunity to witness the impact of global warming in a very concrete and drastic way. The glacier is melting year by year and it’s possible to observe the size it had in the past versus the one it has now.  “With the rate of glacial melting due to global warming, this is a must-do for anyone who is physically fit to do so,” says Rui, who’s been there last month.

About the trip


Photo courtesy of Mihnea Prundeanu.
  • Itinerary: The journey begins at Montenvers Train Station in Chamonix. After a short train ride up to the mountain, you can either walk or take a gondola to reach the glacier. 
  • Duration: From 8.30 am to 4 pm.
  • Price: +/- 120 EUR per person (covering the guiding fee)


Out of all the exciting things you can do around Chamonix during the summer season, glacier hiking on Mer de Glace is certainly one of the most otherworldly experiences! So, whether you’d like to walk on a glacier for the first time, or you want to get started on mountaineering by learning the basic skills, you should definitely add this trip to your bucket list


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