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Rock Climbing in Chamonix

Classic Chamonix granite rock climbing on the Aiguille du Midi south face. The Chamonix 4000m peak Skyline in the background & Swiss Alps beyond. The Matterhorn in the distance far right

The rock climbing in Chamonix is world famous both for the quality and position of the high mountain routes as well as the variety and accessibility of many other styles of rock climbing. From lovely easy roadside climbs to extreme granite big mountain walls, Chamonix, has it all. Due to the close proximity of the Italian Vallee d'Aoste; Swiss Rhone Valley and Chaines des Aravis, Chamonix is also an excellent base for exploring interesting neighboring valleys adding further interest and diversity to the climbing here...

This page helps introduce you to the magical world of rock climbing in Chamonix. There are constantly updated notes about the routes, details of our courses & guiding services and various resources to inform & inspire your climbing trip here.

We hope to climb with you soon...

Latest news & conditions reports for Chamonix Rock Climbing

Chamonix Rock Climbing Courses

Suggested Climbs & Venues

Chamonix Rock Climbing Reports

Chamonix Rock Climbing Guide Books & Topos

Chamonix Rock Climbing

Chamonix Granite is rightly famous throughout the world for the quality of rock climbing it offers and the amazing alpine scenery in which the climbing takes place. There really is something for everyone here from the rock 'Grande Courses' in the Mont Blanc chain, the mid-mountain gneiss of the Aiguille Rouges and quality valley sport climbing in and around the Chamonix Valley.

Our Chamonix Based Rock Climbing Training & Guiding

Whilst there are many extreme rock climbing ascents to be made on the high altitude granite of the Mont Blanc massif do not let this put you off if you are new to rock climbing. There are many easily accessible beginner and family friendly crags which provide superb rock climbing experiences.

In short we can use the many crags around the Chamonix Valley to provide you with an enjoyable, tailor made training and / or guided rock climbing experience. Contact us to discuss your aspirations. We will happily put together a specific itinerary to help you get the most out of your trip.

Our Chamonix Based Rock Climbing Courses

Chamonix Intro Rock

There can be few better places to start your rock climbing career than the beautiful and inspiring Chamonix Valley in the French Alps. Our introductory rock courses are suitable for people with no climbing experience and for those who want to develop their skill and confidence h... more>

Chamonix Alpine Rock

Chamonix is a world Mecca for high mountain rock climbing. The Mont Blanc Massif is brimming full of perfect granite cliffs set in a stunning alpine & glacial environment. On the other side of the Chamonix Valley, the 'Aiguilles Rouges' provide some brilliant, sunny and easi... more>

Rock Climbing Styles & Suggested Routes for Chamonix Based Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing in Chamonix (but out of the valley and away from the crowds)

Below is a list of possible option to help you plan your rock climbing trip in and around the Chamonix Valley. They are in an approximate order of commitmentso whilst the technical difficulty may be high early in the list the overall commitment will be low. Conversely later in the list the technical difficulty may be low but overall mountaineering commitment high.

  • Bouldering - There is lots of good bouldering in the valley. Try the Col des Montets for starters. Then the woods in Les Bossons, large boulder of 'La Pierre d'Orthaz'
  • Single Pitch Sport Climbing - on the fine valley crags of both the Chamonix and Arve Valleys e.g Les Gaillands, Servoz, Les Chavants, Coupeau, Le Fayet, La Joux
  • Mult Pitch Climbing on the Valley Sides - e.g Les Cheserys above Argentiere, La Duchere above Contamine, The excellent 'Via Corda Alpina', Montenvers. There is a huge amount of good limestone sport climbing too in the Arve Valley between Geneva and Chamonix. Try the South pillar of the Croix de Fer for a real big mountain feel....out of the big mountains!
  • Multi Pitch Mountain Sport Climbing, Aiguille Rouges e.g via Brevent, the classic 6a 'Frisson Roche' or, a bit harder, Poem A Lou (6b+). Hundreds of routes from 4-7 accessible from Flegere e.g Piano Forte 6C+, Tour des Crochues
  • Classic Rock Ridge Traverses - More scrambling than rock climbing e.g the Traverse of the Crochues in the Aiguilles Rouges, Les Perrons above Vallorcine
  • Multi Pitch Granite Rock Climbing above the Plan de l'Aiguille - Lots of fine granite mountain routes from 1-2 hours walk from the mid-station on the Aiguille du Midi. For starters try the Papillons Arete or Lepidopteres on the Aiguille du Peigne, or for something harder in the same area, 'Le Ticket, Le Carre, Le Rond et La Lune....
  • Classic Granite Multi Pitch Sport Routes above the Envers Hut - Lots of real Chamonix granite classics like 'Amazonia' (6a+). Sport climbing in a high mountain setting with a glacial approach and mountain hut as a base.
  • High mountain Rock Routes Accessed from the Aiguille de Midi or Punta Hellbronner Telepheriques - Grades range from the relatively friendly 'Pyramide du Tacul' at F5a (but still no pushover) to some of the worlds most cutting edge hard mountain rock routes on the Gran Capucin. The common themes are a snow covered glacier approach, beautiful golden granite and climbing in a stunning but serious environment.

Chamonix Rock Climbing Reports

Rock Climbing in Chamonix

Reports, topo photos, facts, figures and information about Rock Climbing in and around the Chamonix Valley. This includes the famous granite of the Mont Blanc massif (French & Italian sides) the sunny gneiss of the Aiguilles Rouges and the impressive steep limestone cliffs of the Arve Valley. So whether you are looking for high or middle mountain rock or valley 'cragging' Chamonix has lots of great options.

Guidebooks & Topos for Chamonix Based Rock Climbing

Some of these French & Italian guide books are available in an English version

  • Crag Climbs in Chamonix, Vamos, Francois Burnier & Dominique Potard
  • The Aiguilles Rouges 1, Michel Piola
  • Mont Blanc Massif - Envers des Aiguilles, Michel Piola
  • Escalades Choisies - Mont Blanc & Aiguilles Rouges, Montagne Evasion, Jean Louis Laroche & Florence Lelong
  • '6a Max', Savoie et Haute Savoie, Oros, Philippe Brass & Guillaume Vallot
  • Schweiz Plaisir WEST, Edition Filidor, Jurg Von Kanel
  • Vallee de l'Arve, Gilles Brunot
  • Escalade Massif Bornes Aravis,
  • Arrampicata Sportiva Valle d'Aosta, Mani Nude

Chamonix Rock Climbing News & Conditions

Please check below for up any up to date news or posts on rock climbing conditions around the Chamonix Valley. Please add your own relevant comments via the 'New comment' button at the base of this page.

Comments

20th September 2015, Label Virginie (F5c) & Clocher Clochetons Traverse

No one had told the Brevent the weather was supposed to be perfect today and a thick cloud moved in to provide some chilly belaying & climbing for the many teams out enjoying the end of the summer season rock. We made a swift ascent of Label Virginie above Plan Praz and made the logical continuation in to the Clochetons traverse. The first pitch of Label Virginie is really worth just walking round on the right. It's a scrappy one bolt, one move section harder than advertised at F4b. The quality fortunately improves immediately after that and some good climbing leads to the fine climax steep wall and mini overhang ending on the flank of the Petit Clocher. The 5c grade is really for one steep move with big holds and good protection. There is a protection bolt just above this move which can be clipped to protect the second from a swing if they came off - as the belay is now up and over to the right.

The continuing traverse over the Clochetons offers some interesting alpine style manoeuvring with short abseils to be rigged, some fine climbing and even a Tyrolean traverse. Today the combination of cloud, wind and even some remaining snow & ice on the shady side left us shivering and scuttling back over to the Clocher descent path....soon in the sun and warm again!

19th September 2015, SteinAdler Route, Wiwanihorn, Visp

OK, not Chamonix rock climbing, but worth noting if you are in the area and looking for a lovely mountain hut as base camp for a wide variety of rock routes from easy single pitch to multi pitch and alpine style scrambling routes. A great area and well to the east down the Rhone Valley - so worth noting if the weather is hitting the Mont Blanc range from the West. We enjoyed the sustained climbing on the Steinadler route although the first few pitches are a little friable in places. The summit position is superb and there is an enjoyable traversing descent via a scrambly narrow ridge (with blue paint markers) and 2 pitch abseil from the Col.

16th September 2015, Hotel California, F5a, Plan-Praz / Brevent

This was the perfect day after a long & tough alpine route. For a middle mountain rock route, it has a very short approach walk. There is lots of climbing but nothing too hard e.g. F5a max, the views are great and there is the option of carrying on up to the Clocher or even Clochetons traverse for those keen to pack in lots of rock miles. The bolt runners on the route are well spaced apart in places, especially on the last pitch and we took and placed a good variety of cams along the way.

5th August 2015, The Traverse Of The Chamonix Aiguilles

Brilliant traverse from the Aiguille du Midi to the Aiguille de Blaitiere. Five start bivi at the Col Caiman ("Awesome!"). Long descent via the North side of the Blaitiere and down multi pitch rappels via modern rock route anchors. A long & sustained descent but avoiding the complexity and objective hazards of the descent of the Nantillons Glacier. A steady walk over to the Refuge Plan de l'Aiguille for a more comfortable, but less scenic bivi than last nights!

4th August 2015, The Two Easy Rock Classics Of The Aiguilles Rouges

The 2 most popular climbs in the Aiguilles Rouges are probably the voie normale on the Aiguille de l'Index and Traverse of the Aiguilles Crouches. The problem in high summer can thus be heavy traffic congestion! We tried to avoid this problem by making a flying start on the Index, already kitted out, climbing in big boots, from the first lift, going swiftly from the gun! This worked well and meant we were established on the first pitch as various teams started the Q below. This then gave a highly pleasurable swift traverse with an abseil down to the new bolted anchor. It turned out we were a bit too swift as we then found ourselves in the Q at the crux chimney pitch early on the Crouches Traverse. We managed to avoid this whole section with a grassy scramble on the left. Not hard but steep, a little loose and with not much protection!

3rd July 2015, Aiguille Purtscheller (3478m), South Ridge

Brilliant alpine rock climb! Great climbing in a spectacular high mountain position. You get the idea, a good route! Not too long but with an alpine / glacier approach and short multi pitch abseil descent from the summit back to the glacier. The first pitch was climbed much further left than the guide book seemed to indicate but this gave good F5a climbing on very fine rock with good protection, so perhaps it is the right way after all!

There is a bolt anchor at the top of that pitch & numerous bolt runners but that theme is not spread across the entire route and a trad rack of a good variety of cams & nuts was used. The Dulfer Chimney on the 4th pitch certainly provided a memorable central section of the route which is also concluded with a fine short tower topping out directly on the summit. Several short abseils can be made from there with a choice of a variety of bolted in situ anchors. Care is required in dry conditions due to the loose / angular rock. The route provides a fine traverse of the peak and as such it's necessary to take your boots / all your gear on the route as the descent ends a long way from the start!

10th June 2015, Aiguillette d'Argentiere

Great mini alpine rock outing before heading up to the Albert Premier Hut to climb the Aiguille du Chardonnet the next day. A quick walk in trainers and continuing ascent of the Aiguillette gave a fun outing. A lot more walking than climbing but an enjoyable pitch, great pinnacle peak and awesome summit photo! We climbed the F5b Voie Normale up the right hand side of the front of the pinnacle (when viewed from the approach area). The climbing is enjoyable and steady but seems to have less fixed gear than in the past. There are some pegs higher up but the lower section is quite airy and worth taking a few cams / nut runners for.

17th June 2013, Voie Christian Anselme, Les Vuardes, Arve Valley

Good adventure sport climbing on this little big crag. We approached down the gully on the left of the crag (as you look at it) which is a bit scrappy but ok and saves doing - and, for the first visit, finding, the series of abseils to descend. The route itself is pretty varied both in terms of style & quality but packs in a lot of climbing over its 8 or so pitches. The crux 6b+ pitch is pretty sustained and pushy and has an impressive exposed traverse on good rock. A good pitch but not ideal at either end of the rope if you are not confident on 6b+ limestone, although the gear is good with bolts by the hard moves.

13th June, Sun Kissed South Facing Granite on the Midi - And Some Snow!

Good conditions on the South face of the Midi today and no other teams on our chosen route - The Contamine. A couple of short sections of 'kicking steps' in the snow in rock boots were required but there was clearly a lot more for the teams on the classic 'Rebuffat' who were tackling the still well snowy finishing pitches / snow slopes! The abseil descent from the South Face summit to the station also requires care as the slippery soft snow could increase the chance of a pendulum on the diagonally descending finishing abseil.

12th June 2013, Sunny summery cragging at Servoz

"Slap!" 'ça béne' at Servoz crag has about 30m of steady climbing followed by about 3 moves of increasing difficulty to a 6c crux on the very last move. Loud, exciting and dynamic for me, quiet, calm and static for those with more strength / talent!

The photo is of the 'Le Bombé à Jacquot', which is a short 'ard 7b and the trickiest route at Servoz. The cafe across the road provides the true climbing experience of coffee and cake in the shade whilst people / climber watching on the crag.

18/9/2012 South Face of the Midi Dry But More Snow on the way

Lots of teams have been climbing the classic 'Rebuffat' Route on the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi over the last couple of days which has cleared rapidly since the recent heavy snow storms. Light but continuous snow was falling as we walked back up this afternoon and with more snow tonight the face will most likely be out of condition until the warm sunny weather later on Thursday arrives.

14/8/2012 'Voie Salluard' 300m, F6a, Pointe Adolphe Rey

Brilliant Granite Rock Climbing on this fine SE Facing spur right at the head of the Vallee Blanche. An impressive ambiance and with the quality of the climbing to match. Two alternative starts are possible and the most direct if coming from Hellbroner is probably to climb the fine 30m wall with small cave / overlap to reach the bolt belay on the ridge below the crux (6a) overhang. This crux section has 2 overhead pegs which can be used as runners or holds or both! The anchors on the route are bolted and equipped for abseil up to the premier tower but there are only a few pegs in place for runners. A great route which we will have to go back to finish properly and top out although the lower pitches provide great sport for a short outing from either the Midi or Hellbronner.

21st July 2012, Eperon Bernezat, Tour Ronde - Any one done it?

For the first time I saw a party climbing the main East facing buttress on the Tour Ronde yesterday. I have eyed these soaring clean walls with some interest and also noted how 'chossy' and loose some of the ledges looked, particularly on the approach. This team made short work of those and quickly got established on the sustained series of 5b & 5c pitches leading in to the crux 6b or A0. Once that key crack is dispatched the rest of the route opens up and eases off towards the top of the buttress from where the route can be rapped on equipped anchors or the mixed ground can be taken to reach the summit. If any one has climbed this route please add a comment here giving some more info and comments on quality of rock / climbing etc.

20 July 2012, Big Boot Chamonix Granite Mountain Rock Climbing Day

Lots of teams starting up the Vaucher Route on the Aiguille du Peigne this morning. A good choice as the Midi lift was shut from above the Plan due to wind but the conditions were good for rock climbing in the Aiguilles. After some crampon training on the Peigne neve Scott and I climbed the lower part of the Eperon des Minettes, the central Peigne Couloir and then the final arete of the Papillons, a really enjoyable granite rock climbing in big boots outing with multiple short pitches, lots of scrambling and several short abseils. The 'bonus finale' was returning to the Plan de l'Aiguille to a scruffy note on the locked door which translated as 'It's windy, walk down!'. So a few grams of cartilage later we arrived back at the Midi car park ready for a cold drink and shot of cod liver oil!

18 July 2012, SE Face Petite Aiguille Crochue

This interesting trad style route provides a more technical start to the classic traverse of the Aiguilles Crochues. The pitch grades of 3b & 3c suggest a walk in the park but instead the route feels like a good mountain challenge with packs on and very little in-situ gear. The sting in the tail provided by the starting wall of the final pitch is out of character with the rest of the route but provides an entertaining challenge and the opportunity to try out a bit of A0 climbing by pulling on a couple of small - medium wires. The route tops out at the same point as its neighbour 'Lux' early on the Crochues traverse which can then be completed or reversed back to the top of the Index chair (much quicker).

14 July 2012, Cragging at Les Gaillands

Enjoyable day introducing the Canadian lads to the joys of 'social cragging', Chamonix Style. Highlights were - steep and pushy 6a 'Diedre Terray' on the Petit Gailland. Whilst the topo suggests a grade of 5c/6a, the steep and pushy crack climbing suggests the latter to me! As the Canadians hoovered this up sans problem we moved up to the Chasseurs wall to 'enjoy' the balancy and technical 'Cous Cous'. This challenging 6b is best done in slightly cooler temperatures, we had hot and humid but had a go anyway. The lads, like many before got well spanked by 'Cous Cous!' To warm down we cruised the beautiful rough clean rock of l'Arete (6a, 5c) at the Frendo Area which can be rapped in one long abseil on 60m ropes.

11 July 2012, Mani Pulite, 5b+, Aiguilles Rouges

Enjoyable half day ascent of this decent 6 pitch route with very rapid access from the top of the Index chairlift. Well equiped anchors and runners but with a notable large spacing of bolts on the fine cracked wall of Pitch 4 which is worth taking a few small - medium sized cams for. The route is equipped for abseil but it is easier and more logical to scramble off the back and join the descent from the Index.

4th July 2012, Chamonix High Mountain Rock Festival

Warm & sunny weather has quickly brought many high mountain rock climbs in the Mont Blanc massif in to condition. On arriving at the base of the Pyramide du Tacul this morning there were already half a dozen teams just ahead so we diverted and climbed the fine 'Roi de Siam' on the Petite Capucin instead. Teams were also climbing on the East Face of the Trident (Lepiney Route) and Pic Adolphe Rey (Salluard Route) and various teams enjoyed warm sunny rock high on the Dent du Geant.

29th June 2012, Snow on approach to Rock Climb in Aiguilles Rouges?

Teams approaching the South Face of the Brevent yesterday reported snow free conditions and the normal scramble in trainers to the base of the climbs. The climbs around the Index chairlift still have snow on the approach slopes and may require crampons / ice axe after a cold night / good freeze.

17th February 2012, Sunny South Facing High Mountain Chamonix Rock....In February!

Many teams out enjoying the dry, sunny and even warm rock climbing today on the south facing granite on the Aiguille du Midi South Face (Rebuffat & Contamine routes), Pointe Lachenal (Contamine Route & Harold & Maude) and heard reports from teams enjoying similar on the Grand Capucin (Swiss Route). Another popular choice for ski accessed sun rock has been the SE Arete of the Aiguille du Genepi above the Argentiere Hut. This has fantastic views across to the big north walls of the Argentiere basin. Ski accessed mountain rock climbing, just another one of Chamonix's quality mountain sports!

27th April 2012, Closure of Machaby Cliffs, Italian Val d'Aoste

The fine south facing granite cliffs of Machaby, near Arnad in the Italian Valle d'Aoste were closed yesterday after a fatal accident occurred during a rock fall on the route 'Bucce di Arrancia'. Technical surveys are being carried out to determine the ongoing hazards and as a result the following parts of the cliff remain closed: Lomasti pillar, Paretone Gruyere Fara houses (Zone Rock'n'roll Operated and the mythical wind). The partition wall (close to the adjacent carpark to the S 26). More details via the link below:

http://www.escalademag.com/fermeture-de-la-falaise-de-corna-di-machaby

21st August, 2011, Loose Rock on Floria South Face, Chamonix Aiguilles Rouges

This just in from Chamonix based rock climber Ben Tibbets:

Just a quick note of warning after a little accident this afternoon. This area is an obvious choice for easy access leisure sport routes from Flégère uplift and is thus popular with those perhaps not expecting this kind of adventure.

On 'La Lampe d'Allardin' I found more than '..rocher fragile en 3e longeur'. Whilst nevertheless moving cautiously I pulled about 50kg of rock off onto myself in the overhanging corner. This almost removed the bolt and still looks fragile so probably best avoided. Likewise Francoise found moving flakes one the 3rd pitch of Athina just beside and threatening 'La Lampe'. No major injuries, just cuts, bruises and a dented helmet so all ok, but worth noting in your guidebook to avoid!

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