Ski Touring in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc: What are the Best Spots?

Daniel DawsonSeptember 20, 2018

The name Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is synonymous with skiing. The small commune, located at the converging borders of France, Switzerland and Italy, is a world-renowned destination for winter sports enthusiasts and has been since the nineteenth century.

In 1924, the first Winter Olympics were held here and included five different ski events. Since then millions of tourists have flocked to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in order to experience everything that this unique destination has to offer.

There is so much to do that, at first, planning a trip might seem too daunting of a task to begin. In order to make planning your next trip just a bit easier, here are the best spots for ski touring in this majestic landscape.

Mont Blanc massif

Ski tours to the summit of Mont Blanc may take anywhere from two days to one week. Photo courtesy of Massimo Candolini.

The Mont Blanc massif is a mountain range within the Alps that contains 11 individual summits, each of which are 4.000 meters tall. Its tallest peak, Mont Blanc, towers 4.808 meters above sea level.

While each of the individual summits has its own allures, ski touring on Mont Blanc is easily the most popular destination for visitors from around the world. With no gondola or ski lift that reaches the peak’s summit, ski mountaineering is also immensely popular.

Ski tours up and down Mont Blanc usually take between two and seven days, depending on whether the trip includes an acclimatization period. Costs for this kind of trip vary from €400 to €1.250, depending on how long they last and what is included in the price.

While the mountaineering portion of the trip is not technically challenging, you must be in excellent physical condition in order to successfully undertake this trip. There are several routes up Mont Blanc, the most popular of which is the Grand Mulets route.

All the effort required to get to the top is more than rewarded with the views and the fantastic runs back down!

The best time of year for these types of ski touring trips is April and May, when it is safest to be high up on the mountain.

Check out the following links for some of the top trip options for this spot:

2-day Mont Blanc ski touring ascent

4-day Mont Blanc ski mountaineering, Grand Mulets route

7-day ski touring from the top of Mont Blanc

However, if you are not up for this kind of adventure, there are numerous other options for winter adventurers as well, from hut-to-hut ski touring treks on the massif to free ride runs down the numerous mountain slopes.

The Glacier d’Argentière boasts some of the best views in the Chamonix region. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Annereau.

One out-of-the-way and little known spot is the Glacier d’Argentière, which is one of the largest glaciers located on the Mont Blanc massif. From its source to the valley of Chamonix, the glacier is nine kilometers long, but is rapidly receding.

The basin below the glacier is an incredible sight to behold. It is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the entire region and boasts amazing views of Les Droites, Aiguille Verte, the Aiguille d’Argentiere.  

You will be able to take in all these beautiful views as you make adrenaline-pumping and crowd free runs from the glacier and into the basin. It is truly one of Chamonix’s hidden gems.

The best time of year for these ski touring trips is generally from December to May, depending on the activity.

Check out the following link for one of our top trips to this spot:

Argentière Basin guided ski tour

Vallée Blanche

The Vallée Blanche combines a long and thrilling run with spectacular views the whole way down. Photo courtesy of Mathis Dumas

The Vallée Blanche is one of the most popular off-piste spots in the world. The 20 kilometer long run takes you from the summit of Aguille du Midi, at 3.842 meters above sea level down to the hamlet Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, at 1.050 meters.

On the way, you will ski down the massive powder-covered glacier and back into the valley. Depending on your skill level, there are various different routes. Regardless of which route you take, you should be quite physically fit for this route as it involves several consecutive hours of challenging skiing. It is definitely not a good idea to bring children along for this one.

The easiest route, called the normal route, takes about four to six hours to complete and does not require a high level of technical ability. However, you will have to be able to control your speed and trajectory quite well.

There are several variations of this trip each of which presents a differing level of difficulty. Photo courtesy of Peaks Hunter Mountain Guide Team.

Another routes involve taking a cable car to the summit of Courmayeur and beginning the descent from there. There are various other routes as well, including Le Petit Envers du Plan, Le Grand Envers du Plan, Le Vallée Noire and Le Gros Rognon. These ones are more challenging and require a higher level of technical ability.

Part of what makes this run one of the most sought after in the world is the spectacular scenery. The whole way down offers panoramic vistas as well as iconic views of Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, les Drus, les Grandes Jorasses and several other of the Alp’s most iconic peaks.   

Depending on the weather and snow conditions, the best time to give this run a shot is between January and May.

The average price per person for this trip is about €300 to €400 and includes the guiding fee and some equipment. The price per person tends to decrease with larger groups.

Check out the following links for some of the top trip options for this spot:

Vallée Blanche guided off-piste skiing day

Chamonix Vallée Blanche guided off-piste skiing

La Vallée Blanche guided ski tour

Aiguilles Rouges

The iron-rich gneiss of the Aiguilles Rouges gives these spires their bright red color. Photo courtesy of Julien Dusserre.

The Aiguilles Rouges are a smaller massif located opposite the Mont Blanc Massif. Aiguille du Belvedere is the tallest of the massif’s peaks at 2.965 meters tall. The mountains in this range are composed of iron-rich gneiss, which gives them a reddish color.

This range presents excellent opportunities for intermediate and advanced skiers with a good level of physical fitness. From the Col de Beugeant to the Aiguille du Belvedere, the entire range boasts an abundance of thrilling descents while offering spectacular views all along the way.

Le Brevent, which is the second most popular spot in the massif after the Aiguille du Belvedere, rises 2.525 meters above sea level and also provides some unforgettable skiing. Along the way down toward the Col des Montets, you will not help but be able to notice the iconic red needles (pictured above) that rise up all along the way.  

The Aiguilles Crochues-Berard pass also offer great hut-to-hut ski touring opportunities. While the skiing is pretty intense, the climbs are not, allowing you to spend more time enjoying thrilling downhill runs.

The best time of year for ski touring this massif is from November to May. This gives you plenty of options to enjoy great snow as well as the flexibility of being able to escape the crowds and come either before or after the high season.

The average price per person for trips to this spot is about €300 to €400 for a one day trip and includes the guiding fee and some equipment. The price per person tends to decrease with larger groups.

Check out the following links for some of the top trip options for this spot:

Col de Beugeant, Aiguilles Rouges guided ski tour

Ski touring in Crochues-Berard

Aiguilles Rouges massif ski touring

Brèche Puiseux

Though a bit challenging to summit, Brèche Puiseux rewards those who do with excellent views of the French Alps. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Annereau.

Located just to the northeast of Mont Blanc, the Brèche Puiseux is an excellent and less frequented option for adventurous ski tourers.

The mountain provides spectacular views of the northern face of the Grandes Jorasses as well as other iconic peaks in the French Alps. It also boasts varied ski tour terrains all the way down, including glacier skiing and some excellent powder turns.

Due to the northeastern facing Glacier de Leschaux, the mountain has excellent mid-winter snow. Since its popularity is overshadowed by the neighboring Mont Blanc and Aiguille du Midi, its slopes are often less crowded as well.

Skiing down its slopes is not overly technical and perfectly suited for intermediate-level off-piste skiers. However, the way up to the summit can be a bit tricky and involves both walking in crampons and a bit of ice climbing.

Due to the delicate nature of the final ice fall, it is best to stay in a refuge overnight and climb up early in the morning, before the sun has fully risen.  However, this is an exciting part of the adventure and the following day is full of skiing and stunning views.

The best time of year for ski touring the Brèche Puiseux is from November to April. This is when the snow will be in the best conditions. The average cost for the two-day trip costs about €400 and includes the guiding fee.  

Check out the following link for one of our top trip options for this spot:

Brèche Puiseux guided ski tour

Other winter activities in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Along with ski touring in and around Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, the idyllic hamlet is also the traditional starting point for the Haute Route, a week-long ski touring trek along mountain ridges and through alpine valleys to the famous Swiss resort town of Zermatt. Some, but not all, of the Haute Route trips tack on a few days at the beginning and also include an ascent of Mont Blanc. 

During the winter months, Chamonix is also a hotspot for glacier hiking, snowshoeing, ice climbing, winter mountaineering and ski mountaineering. Whatever winter activity you can think of, Chamonix has it!

With so much variety, you will not have a dull day while visiting Chamonix. Photo courtesy of Julia Virat.

So what are you waiting for? Dust off those skis and poles then start planning your next ski touring adventure in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc today!

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