Ski Vallee Blanche
As the most famous off-piste ski run in the world, the Vallee Blanche has a lot to live up to...Happily the 18km journey with 2800m of vertical descent through some of the worlds most stunning glaciated alpine scenery rarely dissapoints! Thanks to the huge height gain (2742m) given by the Aiguille du Midi cable car, this magnificent ski journey can be undertaken in a short day by skiers of suitable ability. A descent of the Vallee Blanche is often the highlight of a ski trip to Chamonix and will provide a truly memorable experience and some great photos.
We provide fully qualified (IFMGA) Mountain Guides who work hard to ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable and interesting descent. We are also able to offer interesting variations on the descent including steeper skiing or a short ski tour across to the Italian side before skiing down the classic route to Chamonix.
Ski Vallee Blanche Facts & Figures
- Start altitude (Aiguille du Midi): 3777m
- Finish Altitude (Chamonix): 1050m
- Vertical Descent: 2727m
- Length: 18Km
- Season: Varies with snow conditions and weather but usually January to April
- Time: Varies according to skiers ability and priorities but commonly 4-6 hours, Midi-Chamonix
- Busiest Time: Weekends and later in the week in Feb / March when up to 2500 people may make the descent per day
- Quieter times: Early and mid-week in Jan and April. Even in Feb and March it is often quieter earlier in the week as folk wait to get their holiday ski legs ready for the big day!
Thanks again for a fantastic day last week. We were extremely lucky with the weather and all enjoyed the skiing and the incredible scenery.
- Is The Vallee Blanche Difficult? In pure skiing terms the Vallee Blanche classic route is similar, in angle alone, to a pisted red run. This howeverdoes not give a good impression of the overall length and seriousness of the environment which includes the mountain hazards of crevasses, avalanche, serac fall, high altitude and challenging navigation in sometimes poor weather. None of the 'management' of a normal ski area is in place such as groomed slopes, flagged runs and avalanche control.
- Am I A Good Enough Skier? Skiers wishing to enjoy a smooth and safe descent of the Vallee Blanche should be capable of skiing pisted red runs with confidence and in complete control. They should also have experience of off-piste skiing and be able to turn accurately and stop at will in variable snow / off-piste conditions. Side slipping confidently is also an essential skill. In good conditions during busy periods large mogul fields can develop, so the ability to ski large bumps over long & sustained mogul fields is required. A good level of ski fitness is also required so that you are able to cope with C.25km of off piste skiing with nearly 3000m of vertical descent in variable snow conditions and starting at high altitude.
- Is There Some Mountaineering To Descend The Snow Ridge From The Station? In good conditions this is turned into a solid path with a rope handrail and is a spectacular but easy 10 minute roped walking descent carrying skis. In poor conditions or early / late season the arete may be icy and require the use of crampons and a smaller ratio with the Guide. In these conditions it is more secure to fix your skis to a rucksack and leave your hands free for handling the fixed rope. Large queues can form
on the ridge which is at high altitude (3777m) and exposed to the wind. Wear plenty of layers, warm gloves and have goggles, neck 'buff' and hood to protect your face and ensure a more comfortable wait if you get stuck in a que!
- Is It Necessary To Hire A Mountain Guide? It is by no means obligatory to hire a Guide and experienced and competent ski mountaineers in good weather and conditions may choose not to. However skiers without an awareness of, and an ability to deal with, all the mountain hazards described above would be well advised to ski with a Guide along to increase their safety margin and add an extra dimension to enjoying and interpreting the mountains along the way.
- How Much Does It Cost? The price of a single trip to the top of the Aguille du Midi is around 40 euros. If the snow cover low down is limited you might want to take the train down from Montenvers and this means a c. 60 euro Mt Blanc unlimited pass is the best option. More information on Chamonix lift pass prices here. A Guide will generally cost around £360 for the day for one person (This includes avalanche and safety equipment loan but not your lift pass). Whilst the cost increases for larger groups the individual price goes down. Our prices are given below.
- Is It Possible To Ski The Vallee Blanche Twice In a Day? For those who place maximum skiing time as a high priority over a more relaxed journey, taking photos and enjoying breaks, it is possible to ski the Vallee Blanche twice in a day. In order to
achieve this an early and organised approach must be taken and a sense of momentum maintained. For those with this approach in mind it may be possible to ski another classic Chamonix off-piste run after a descent of the Vallee Blanche e.g. The Argentiere Glacier from the Grande Montets.
Is It possible To Ski The Vallee Blanche From The Italian Side? Yes, in good conditions an approach can be made from the top of the Helbronner lift system. The base of this lift is 5 minutes drive from Courmayeur or 25 minutes from Chamonix. Note that as the ski journey finishes in Chamonix transport arrangements must be made to return to Courmayeur (remember your passport!). For those with skins for ascending on skis it is possible to start from Chamonix / Aiguille du Midi and make a one and half hour detour on skis across to the Italian side (better and cheaper coffee!). The Italian side of the Vallee Blanche can then be skied joining the French route on the Mer de Glace and returning to
Chamonix thereby avoiding any transport logistics.
- I Would Like To Do A Longer Journey And Get Some More Fresh Tracks, Is That Possible? There are some great options to extend the journey down the Vallee Blanche by adding a ski touring element and climbing, for example to the Col Freshfield. This offers access to much less frequented terrain, great views of the Swiss & Italian Alps (including the Matterhorn) and often some fresh tracks on the descent. Skis with touring bindings and climbing skins are required for this.
Good company, good humour, great safety awareness as well as interesting insight and conversation on the various aspects of the vallee as we descended....Thankfully a friend told us to get ourselves a good guide... we did and an even bigger thanks to Rob, he was the perfect guide and got us down the Vallee Blanche in one piece!
Ski Vallee Blanche Equipment List & Preparation Notes
As with all our ski courses, we recommend you prepare as much as possible in advance with relevant ‘ski fit’ preparation and then arrive at least a day or two early to both warm up your ski legs & check equipment. This is especially important if you will be renting boots or skis & bindings. Please also make sure your skis are well serviced & bindings correctly adjusted.
1-2 people: £385
3 people: £405
4 people: £420
5 people: £435
6 people: £450
This includes the Guides fee, Guides expenses and use of avalanche / mountaineering safety equipment (harness / transceiver / crampons if necessary) but not the cost of a lift pass (C.60 Euros depending on snow conditions) or ski / boot hire etc.
Call for more details:
Please note that good weather is required to make a safe descent of the Vallee Blanche and it is sometimes necessary to cancel due to excessive cloud and / or wind. In these conditions we will offer an alternative off-piste skiing option to make the best of the conditions. Often the bad weather which means we can't ski the Vallee Blanche gives great powder skiing lower down / in the trees etc.
If you would prefer to join an existing group to ski the Vallee Blanche, to keep the guiding costs down and enjoy a sociable 'team' element to the descent, we organise a number of 'open days' throughout the season. To join one of these days you must have the required off-piste ski ability & fitness. Please make sure you have read our Ski Vallee Blanche FAQs above and can confirm you are capable of skiing the descent in good style. If you are not sure about this we can arrange a Vallee Blanche training / preparation day in advance but you must not commit to the descent unless you are confident in your ability to complete it safely and effectively.
Very good weather is required to make the descent of the Vallee Blanche due to the crevassed glacial & high mountain terrain. In the event of the weather or snow conditions not being good enough for a Vallee Blanche descent on the day we will provide a good suitable off piste alternative in the area. Often poor winter weather means powder so there is some good alternative skiing to do.
Ski Vallee Blanche Open Days 2017
- Saturday 11th Feb, 6 / 6 Places Available (People Enquiring: 3)
- Saturday 18th Feb, 5 / 6 Places Available (People Enquiring: 1)
- Thursday 9th March, 1 / 6 Places Available (People Enquiring: 2)
- Friday 24th March, 5 / 6 Places Available (People Enquiring: 3)
For additional Chamonix group off piste skiing events, please also check the dates for our 2017 Chamonix Guided Ski Days.
- Maximum Group Size 6
This fee includes:
- Guiding with an IFMGA Guide
- Loan of avalanche transceiver, Harness & crampons if required
This fee does not include:
- Ski Hire
- Lift Pass
- Food & Drink
- Any other expenses
A brilliant trip down the classic route, with lunch at the Requin Hut. It lived up to our expectations in every way - a very enjoyable and memorable experience. Thanks Rob, you made the day for both myself and Catriona!
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Please add a comment / conditions report below, via the comments button at the base of the page, if you have skied the Vallee Blanche recently. Thanks.