Ski Vallée 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 world’s most stunning glaciated alpine scenery rarely disappoints! 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 and fitness. A descent of the Vallee Blanche is often the highlight of a ski trip to Chamonix and will provide a truly memorable experience and often some great photos…

Winter & Spring 2023 Booking Now – Private Guiding Or Join A Group

Direct Vallée Blanche Descent Or With A Ski Tour ‘En Route’

Vallee Blanche Prices & Booking

Latest Vallee Blanche Conditions

Vallee Blanche FAQs

Vallee Blanche – Skier Check List

2023 Ski Vallee Blanche Open Days

Ski Vallée Blanche Equipment List

Ski Vallée 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 late January to April
  • Time: Varies according to skier’s 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!

Absolutely. I honestly think that’s the best off piste skiing I’ve ever done.

David Philips, Ski VB Group Day, April 2023

Admiring the simply stunning views across to the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche. With the Gran Paradiso and Matterhorn in the distance. Mont Blanc du Tacul East Face behind. Taken on the Gros Rognon Variation to the classic Vallee Blanche

Ski Vallee Blanche FAQs

Is The Vallée Blanche difficult?

In pure skiing terms the Vallée Blanche classic route is similar, in angle alone, to a pisted red run. This however does not give a good impression of the overall length and seriousness of the environment which includes the mountain hazards of crevasses, avalanche, sérac 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.

Also worth noting that, for more advanced skiers, there are many steeper variants that provide potentially superb sustained skiing.  The Petit Envers is quite a bit steeper than the classic route. The Grand Envers and especially the Col du Plan route is a fair bit steeper again and can offer some very fine steeper pitches up to around 45 degrees.

Superb powder and fresh tracks skiing next to the beautiful Geant Icefall on the left hand exit above the Requin Hut

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.

Off piste competence and confidence are required as well as decent fitness to ski the Vallee Blanche safely, and enjoy it!

What is the snow like?

Varied!  Due to the huge altitude range from the Aiguille du Midi to Chamonix, it’s possible to experience all kinds of different snow types and conditions on a single descent of the Vallee Blanche.  Factor in the constantly changing weather, seasonal variation and how many skiers have descended the route, and it’s hard to make generalisations about what the snow will be like.  However often good powder can be found in winter and fine ‘carpet like’ spring snow in spring, with a slightly later start.  In sunny weather in peak season the snow becomes skier compacted like the side country immediately next to a popular piste.  Often this is quite easy and pleasant to ski although bumps develop on steeper and narrow sections like the sustained passage next to the Geant icefall.  In these conditions you need to be skilled and confident skiing bumps, sometimes very large ones!  In early season and after a storm great powder conditions can be experienced.  This is fun to ski but you will need decent off piste skills and good fitness to handle it.   Sometimes a sun / wind / melt freeze breakable crust is present and this can be tricky to ski, so it’s best to ski in the tracks or wait until another day…or learn to ski crust!

Powder or crust? Snow conditions can be highly varied in the Vallee Blanche but often good powder can be found in winter and spring snow in spring. Photo Gav Pike.

Is there some mountaineering to descend the snow ridge from the Midi station?

Yes, although in good conditions in high season, this is turned into a solid path with a rope handrail offers a spectacular but easy 10 minute roped walking descent carrying skis. In poor conditions or early / late season the arête 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 queue!

Full course team descent of the Aiguille du Midi snow arete, equipped here with fixed ropes. An ‘interesting’ experience for many skiers and putting the M factor into ski mountaineering!

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 strongly advised to ski with a Guide to increase their safety margin and add an extra dimension to enjoying and interpreting the amazing mountain environment along the way.  In sunny weather with great conditions and lots of skiers, it can all feel pretty friendly, but do remember that the combined hazards of crevasses, avalanches and seracs need managing with good decision making and good route finding and if you are not confident doing this it would be better to hire a guide.

Tough early winter conditions with deep wind blown snow and extensive crevassing. What are conditions like in the Vallee Blanche? Know before you go & hire a mountain guide if you’re not sure!

How Much Does It Cost?

The price of a single trip to the top of the Aguille du Midi is around 60 euros. If the snow cover low down is limited you might want to take the train down from Montenvers and this means a c. 75 euro Mt Blanc unlimited pass is the best option. More information on Chamonix lift pass prices here. A Guide will generally cost around £4600 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 off piste ski guiding prices are given here.

Good team mountaineering skills – On The Midi snow ridge – roped up – skis on packs – crampons on boots and enjoying the mega views of the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc Massif

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 certainly possible to ski the Vallee Blanche twice or more times in a day. In order to achieve this an early start 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.

The magnificent position and wonderful scenic atmosphere – of the unusual mountaineering style start to this famous ski run…the Vallée Blanche!

I’ve skied the classic Vallee Blanche and would like to do a harder variant, what would you recommend?

As described above, the ‘classic’ Vallee Blanche descent is pretty easy angled and this can actually cause problems with momentum in deep soft snow, especially for snow boarders.  There are some superb steeper variants which are very popular as Chamonix is full of good skiers!  The Petit and Grand Envers are the classic variants with the latter offering some particularly fine steep pitches including the impressive steep descent down towards the Col du Plan, having skied along the first section of the Midi-Plan snow ridge.  A spectacular route!

Grand Envers Variation To The Vallee Blanche, With Some Fine Steep Pitches Of Skiing

 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!).  A public bus service is available with occasional buses from Chamonix to Courmayeur and back, check details here.  Also private transfers can be arranged for around €100.
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 and returning to Chamonix thereby avoiding any transport logistics.  The Italian ‘normal route’ on the Vallee Blanche is generally easier than skiing from the Aiguille du Midi.  However the ‘Combe Vierge’ offers a slightly steeper and more sustained alternative and the ‘Combe Noir’ and Italian Icefall exit offer an excellent steep & sustained run but require skins for a short ascent from the Col du Geant.  Those with good fitness and organisational skills can skin across from the Midi, ski the Glacier de Toule on the South side of the massif, return by the Skyway lift to the summit and ski back to Chamonix. A great day!
Superb snow and a quiet day on the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche, accessed from the Skyway Monte Bianco lift. Tour Ronde North Face behind.

Is it possible to ski the Vallée Blanche over Christmas / New Year?

Conditions on the glacier generally improve as the snow volume increases over the winter season and crevasses have bigger & stronger snow bridges and the skiing generally becomes easier and less technical on the glacier.  In December and early January the glacier often has open or poorly bridged crevasses plus the midi snow ridge is generally not equipped fully before February.  This means more mountaineering skills are required to make a safe descent from the station to where the skiing begins.  Occasionally in January there are decent conditions and then, with a strong & small team, and good weather, we will guide the descent but generally before mid January we will recommend doing other good off piste alternatives from the Chamonix Valley, of which there are many!   Another good alternative is to ski tour from the Midi or Skyway lifts and descend just the upper slopes before returning to the lift to descend & thus avoiding more crevassed terrain lower down.

Ski Chamonix Off Piste & Touring Skills course in the Vallee Blanche, great conditions in late Jan 2018

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 and these can easily be hired in Chamonix.  This is a great experience but the ascent can feel physically tough with the high altitude air and particularly if there is soft now.

Pristine velvet fresh tracks high in the Vallee Blanche. A descent to savour and remember…

Gordon & Matt, Vallee Blanche, Jan 2011

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!

Vallee Blanche – Skier Check List

Please read our description & FAQs above regarding what is involved in a ski descent of the Vallée Blanche.

Then answer the following 4 questions:

  1. Considering the description of the terrain involved and variety of snow conditions likely to be encountered, are you confident that your off piste skiing ability is sufficient for you to be able to accurately follow the line of the guide and make a safe, efficient and enjoyable ski descent of the Vallée Blanche?
  2. Do you have any off piste skiing experience on similar terrain in similar snow conditions?
  3. Do you have a good level of fitness that means you can maintain good ski technique for a long descent lasting several hours and starting with a challenging mountaineering descent at high altitude?
  4. Do you have all the required off piste and glacier skiing equipment?  See our Vallee Blanche equipment list below and note that guests booking guiding with us can borrow avalanche transceiver, harness, crampons as required included in the guiding fee.
The Vallee Blanche is not all powder and fresh tracks! Here some serious crevassing is negotiated during the passage through the ‘Salle á Manger’ and the Geant Icefall section. How accurate is your ski control?

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.  Check our ski Vallee Blanche equipment list here and Ski Vallée Blanche Guest Pre Course Info here.

2023 Vallee Blanche Booking & Private Guiding Fees

To book your guided day:

Please visit our private guiding booking page here.

1 person: £465

2-3 people: £495

3-4 people: £525

5-6 people: £555

This includes the Guide’s fee, Guide’s 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.

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.

Graham Parry, Ski VB Feb 2016

A quick thanks for a great day out on the VB last week, it completely lived up to our expectations. Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to John Taylor. His huge experience and approach made the day even more special: careful preparation and briefing prior to going out on the mountain, timing our start to avoid the bottlenecks and judging us capable of the variant route.
Good luck to you both on the Etappe Du Tour!

Beautiful velvet snow & fresh tracks on the Gros Rognon variation to the classic ski Vallee Blanche route. Photo Gav Pike.

2024 Ski Vallee Blanche Open Days

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.

Excellent powder skiing conditions on the Vallee Blanche Gros Rognon Variation
 Tom & Catriona, Vallee Blanche, Jan 2011

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!

13 February,  2022,  Lovely Creamy Skiing Up High – Improving Lower Down…

Well done to Dan and Nick, skiing well today and here they are enjoying lovely fresh tracks on the Gros Rognon variation of the classic Vallee Blanche route.  There is now a better way through the Salle à Manger that avoids the exposed ice lower down + the entrance to the Mer de Glace section is slightly improved too.  There are some BIG bumps in the Geant Icefall area – all of this could do with another metre of snow to help it bed down…happily it looks like there is plenty on the way!  Our team stopped at Montenvers to preserve skis and legs but it sounds like the ski down works ok if you are up for some rock dodging…and ski patching!

Fresh snow higher up was giving some nice fresh tracks on the sunny French side of the VB today right down to the Salle à Manger plus it was good to be in the sun as it’s pretty baltic at the moment!  Some teams were skiing to Chamonix and reporting ok but quite thin conditions on the track although this will hopefully improve significantly with lots more fresh snow over the weekend.

31 December  2021,  Decent Snow For Touring High Up But Poor Conditions Lower Down

Snow volume is pretty good for the time of year in the Upper Vallée Blanche and chalky grippy snow is ok to ski on despite the wind blown effects higher up.   The story lower down however is quite different….Below 3000m there is a re-frozen rain crust giving very bad hard ice conditions & presenting a significant slip to slide hazard above some well open crevasses.  Worth skiing elsewhere for the time being or at least waiting for the appearance of a more battered track through the icy as more teams make the descent.  We are happy to arrange touring day trips in the high altitude zone with a return to either Midi or Skyway lifts to avoid the full descent.

16th Feb 2017, Busy Day In The Vallee Blanche

Conditions in the Vallee Blanche are still not great but the normal routes and variations were getting skied a lot today, with some teams descending to Chamonix via the lower glacier and James Bond track, but most teams taking the Montenvers train down due to lean & rocky conditions on the lower glacier and track. Plenty of bumps on the classic routes and not much fresh snow left so more snow would be welcome!

18th January 2017, Improved But Still Poor & Lean Conditions In The Vallee Blanch

Whilst a few teams have now completed the Vallee Blanche – mainly on skis! Only a bit of walking the conditions are still not inspiring and moreover, not well filled in from a crevasse point of view. The big snow falls over the weekend have certainly helped a lot, with over 1m of fresh snow up high, but this fell on strong winds and the snow is hard to ski in places and bare ice in a few local but significant areas too.

Also well rocky lower down and with sections of walking. Plenty more snow still required for normal ‘good’ conditions and, as such no work has even started equipping the snow arete, so it’s in its natural state and thus requires good mountaineering skills and equipment.

9th January 2017, Poor But Steadily Improving Early Winter Cover In The Vallee Blanche

The excellent start to the 2016 / 17 season with lots of snow in mid November did not continue and, instead, 2 months of clear & sunny dry weather left the Mont Blanc range with unseasonably low avalanche risk and fairly poor snow cover. Whilst teams have been touring in the upper Vallee Blanche glaciers on both the French & Italian sides, conditions lower down are heavily crevassed and were just bare ice on the Mer de Glace. This has improved, in appearance at least, in the last few days with 2 small snowfalls down to valley floor level. More snow this week will only help further but it will take a lot more snow to improve the cover sufficiently to enjoy normal / good conditions in the VB. Due to the poor conditions no attempts had been made by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc to equip the snow ridge departing the Aiguille du Midi station and, as of last week, this was in it’s natural state with no stakes or ropes in-situ to facilitate the descent. So full mountaineering equipment and skills are required.

29th April 2016, Great Cover & Excellent Spring Snow & Skiing All Round The Vallee Blanche

The already good existing snow cover high on the glaciers has been more than just topped up with nearly 1m of fresh snow. The cool temperatures meant this was still powder even on the sunny French side of the range and especially fine light powder on the shady north facing Italian side. Teams were skiing all variations of the Vallee Blanche although the general ambiance was of a very nice and very quiet late season day. The Z track on the north face out of the Midi is now closed for the season and being removed and the metal poles and ropes are still in place on the ridge for another week or so.

There was a short walk at the end of the ski to get to the Montenvers steps. Great late season conditions with even more cool & snowy weather on the way!

19th April 2016, Excellent Spring Conditions With Fresh Winter Snow

A cold & showery weekend in the Mont Blanc Range gave plenty of fresh snow about about 1500m and this left a good layer of light powder snow high in the Vallee Blanche for folk to enjoy once the clouds lifted today. Great snow on the shady north facing side of the VB in the Combe Vierge accessed from Hellbroner or a less than 1 hour skin from the French side of the VB having started from the Midi. Snow volume remains good up high with this latest dump only adding to that cover. Obviously crevasses are starting to open up a bit lower down with blue ice showing through in places on the Mer de Glace.

31st March 2016, Poor Skiing Conditions In The Vallee Blanche

The effects of the very strong winds and major thaw with a freezing level at 3000m today have not been pretty on the snow on the sunny & exposed French side of the Vallee Blanche. Teams reported awkward crust conditions with refrozen tracks and only softening later on and lower down. The wild weather caused complications too with the lift from the steps above the glacier to Montenvers being closed by the strong foehn winds meaning some teams descended all the way to Chamonix, with lots of walking, and some teams climbed up to the station to catch the train. Neither option is advised as a pleasant end to your descent!

Hopefully conditions will improve with more skiers creating a less crusty track and a more classic spring regime being established with softening snow on sunny aspects, or some fresh snow.

21st March 2016 – Almost Piste Like Conditions On The Vallee Blanche

Pleasant grippy skied snow on the main line on many variations today. We skied the Gros Rognon and through the Salle a Manger. Enjoyable snow with light bumps on most sections and big bumps in the constrictions! Got the train down and only a few teams were braving the now well rocky and muddy James Bond track down to Chamonix.

9th March 2016 – High Snow Volume & Good Conditions In Vallee Blanche & Around MB Massif

Another good run down the Gros Rognon, left of Geant Icefall and through the Salle a Manger, all the way down to Chamonix with only a small walk to finish.

The snow was a lot more windblown than yesterday and not quite such beautiful ‘cold smoke’ but it was still pretty good and very well preserved on shady & sheltered aspects. Looks like a lot of good weather now on the way – so the bumps will start growing!

1st March 2016 – Excellent Snow Quality & Increasing Snow Volume In The Vallee Blanche

Very enjoyable descent today with impressive snow cover and light sunny powder all the way down. A classic and lots of teams out enjoying it although plenty of powder to go around. We skied a Petit Envers and through the Salle a Manger but lots of teams were skiing the Grand Envers and Requin exit couloir as well as the Italian side of the Geant Icefall.

The Z path is now open out of the Midi station and whilst we took crampons and went straight down the ridge many teams took the easier Z line on the north face. Lower down, we took the train down although again many teams skied down to the end of the glacier and down the James Bond track. The lower section of this is totally bare and requires a walk to the pistes of Les Planards.

18th February 2016 – Team Vallee Blanche Descent All Way To Chamonix

The Z track linking the Midi station with easier lower slopes below the snow ridge is still closed due to the base not being firm enough. Thus whilst the ridge crest has a rope and big track it is quite steep & icy and crampons are recommended. Decent skiing on the Gros Rognon variation today and quite quiet later on. The traverse in to the Requin Hut for a brew was fine as was the ski all the way down to the end of the glacier for the boot up to the Mottets buvette.

The track back to Chamonix was generally fine albeit with a rocky walking section before the crossing of the train tracks. A grand descent!

17th Feb 2016 – Great Weather & Good Snow – Skied To Chamonix

Another beautiful winter high mountain day. Good snow although getting well tracked and a bit bumpy now in the bottle neck areas. James Bond track in reasonable condition down to Chamonix with just a little bit of walking lower down. A bit more snow down to low altitudes at the end of the week on way too.

15th February 2016 – Great Snow on the Gros Rognon VB Variation

The main Z path is now in place enabling a somewhat easier access from the Midi station to the snow ledges where skis can be put on. Great snow conditions on the Gros Rognon with an impressive accumulation of fresh snow from the recent falls. Snow conditions are now slightly better than the average season at middle and high altitude although not at low altitudes due to the large amount of rain below about 1400m.

One team reported frozen slush on the descent of the track to Chamonix this morning so many teams were taking the train down from Montenvers.

26th January 2016, Vallee Blanche Gros Rognon Route

Good creamy snow in the well tracked sections of the Gros Rognon today. Bumps growing in the bottle necks near the Salle a Manger but in friendly soft conditions today. Decent track through Salle a Manger and all the way to Montenvers.

21st January 2016, Improving Conditions On The Gros Rognon Variation To Montenvers

The first blue sky day & relatively warm day for a while after recent snowfalls and arctic like weather! A steady stream of teams enjoyed skiing good snow in the upper Gros Rognon variation. There are still big holes around but these were easily avoided and of course the large volume of recent fresh snow has seriously helped the general conditions of the glacier. Teams were skiing both the Salle a Manger section below the Requin Hut as well as taking the alternative leftward traverse to the couloir which avoids the somewhat crevassed but passable Salle a Manger.

Cover on the lower glacier became thinner on the journey down towards Montenvers and most teams took the train back down to Chamonix. Those that continued the journey down on skis reported good snow conditions on the James Bond track through the woods but awkward rocky / icy conditions on the final snout exiting the glacier before the walk up to the (open) buvette is made. Certainly not ideal if you value your skis bases!

The equipping of the ridge continues with a set of stanchions down the ridge line itself connected with a rope but no cut out snow ledges as such. Thus crampons on boots and skis on packs is the way to go securely.

3rd January 2016, Very Good Snow – But Open Crevasses!

We skied the upper section of the Vallee Blanche and numerous teams skied the Combe Vierge, from the Italian side. However we skinned back on to the Italian side to enjoy some high level ski touring. On the busier French side of the Vallee Blanche numerous teams skied the fresh powder from last nights fall via the Grand & Petit Envers variations as well as the Gros Rognan. All routes look well crevassed and no one was skiing the normal route which looks even more crevassed.

22nd December 2015, Good Snow But Open Crevasses…

Various teams have been skiing the Vallee Blanche from both the Aiguille du Midi and Punta Hellbroner. The snow has been good up high due to a couple of recent small snow falls up high. However, unsurprisingly given the very hot summer and limited snow fall since, glacier conditions are still relatively dry for the time of year and lots of open crevasses are reported. Teams described skiing sections roped together and then poor & dry / very lean conditions lower down. Lots more snow is required to produce more normal conditions for the ski descent.

9th March 2015, Still Good Conditions on the Vallee Blanche Classic Route

Superb mountain weather, well skied snow, softening later. Soft bumps and reasonable cover all the way to Chamonix – with just a short walk to finish lower on the James Bond track. The good weather continues with more snow due at the Weekend.

28th February 2015, Col Du Plan / Grand Envers Variation

After an aborted start in thick cloud at Brevent we skied an excellent Pre du Rocher from the mid station on the Midi, the Plan de l’Aiguille. This had super untracked powder in the top half and steep skied soft / grippy snow & then light bumps through the lower rides through the woods. It was thus mid afternoon before we sidled along the fine soft snow on the Midi Plan Arete down towards the steep entrance pitch on this Grand Envers variation to the Vallee Blanche.

Teams early this morning had triggered some small soft windslabs on both sides of the ridges but by this time it had been well skied and was a pleasant mix of grippy tracked snow on the steep pitches with some lovely light powder on the wider sections where fresh tracks could still be found.

The lower glacier was fine if still a little rocky and lean and the ski down the James Bond track was pleasant apart from the first very rocky & steep hair pin bend just below the Buvette. Lots more snow over the next couple of days should help this all out even more.

26th Feb 2015, Good conditions on the Vallee Blanche Classic Route, All the way to Chamonix

Fine snow, good cover all the way down. A little rocky on the lower section of the glacier but the descent track through the woods was fine all the way to Les Planards. Teams doing all the variations including the Combe Vierge and Combe Noir on the Italian side, followed by the Italian icefall exit. More snow tomorrow to top things up for the weekend!

25th February 2015, 2 Excellent Laps on the Vallee Blanche

Great skiing up high in the VB today and good snow cover all the way down to Chamonix. “Best days skiing of my life” was the comment from our client, Evan. He’s done a lot of skiing too, so it was pretty good! More tomorrow but with a cool northerly wind up high.

17th February 2015 – Decent Vallee Blanche Conditions All the Way to Chamonix

No fresh snow to speak of but with perfect weather, a reducing avalanche risk and cool grippy snow there was a lovely ski journey to be had all the way from the Midi to the streets of Chamonix.

3rd February 2015, Improving Conditions in the Vallee Blanche

After 5 days of almost continuous snow – the cover on the glaciers of the Vallee Blanche is much increased and the Compagnie du Mont Blanc have started equipping the central arete with metal stakes and a rope. Presumably more to follow with the classic Z path system going on to the North Face. A few teams skied the classic, Petit Envers and other variations today and reported good conditions. With a tiny amount more fresh snow due tomorrow, Wednesday, followed by what looks like sustained good weather for several days no doubt many more teams will be checking out the conditions from Thursday onwards.

Mid October 2014 – Teams skiing the upper pitches of both French & Italian Vallee Blanche

Very showery weather in the 2nd week of October has only added to the already quite snowy conditions and the upper glaciers are looking well charged with snow for this time of year. Numerous teams have enjoyed some fine powder turns on just the very upper pitches of the Voie Normale routes from both the Midi & Hellbronner. Certainly a promising start to the snow & conditions build up to winter 2015….

Mid September 2014

Very good snow cover on the high glaciers of the Mont Blanc Massif at the moment offer a promising start to the autumn & winter build up for those interested in following the long term gradual build up for the 2014 / 2015 Chamonix ski season. Whilst the lower pistes & resort areas take little interest until the arrival of the winter snow in November / December those interested in the state of the glaciers & high mountain snow conditions start taking notice from late summer. As is the case this year – this can be an excellent building period for the upper glaciers & crevasse snow bridges thanks to high volumes of warm & humid, thus sticky summer snow. Stay posted for more updates as the Autumn progresses in to early winter on the high glaciers of the Mt Blanc Massif…

16th May 2014, Midi Arete Now Unequipped

The famous snow ridge departing the Midi station has been stripped of it’s winter equipment to facilitate the passage of thousands of skiers. The arete is now ‘au naturale’ and requires the use of more mountaineering skill & equipment. It will remain like this until Jan 2015.

Teams are still active on skis from the Midi although fewer are now still making the descent to Montenvers as the lower section is now dry ice & requires a substantial walk across the glacier.

We look forward to skiing the Vallee Blanche again in 2015 & hope you can join us.

24th February 2014, Another Perfect Day in the Vallee Blanche

The snow up high remains very good indeed, currently still on all aspects above 3000m or so. Great tracks on the Italian side including from the Cols Entreves, Vierge & Combe Noir & Italian right hand icefall exit. Still good snow where untracked on the French SE facing slopes high up including Gros Rognon & Petit Envers. A lovely late afternoon at the buvette & enjoyable soft snow descent of the James Bond track.

22nd February 2014, Simply Superb Conditions Across the Vallee Blanche

A great Saturday morning ski from the Midi before the forecast clouds rolled in this afternoon. Yesterdays snow had left a deep, smooth coating of superb velvet powder throughout the whole of the Vallee Blanche, from the Midi to Chamonix! We skied an excellent variant of the Petit Envers Glacier but teams were skiing nearly all variations including the Noire on the Italian side.

More snow forecast tonight and then a couple of days of bright, cold & sunny weather. Awesome winter mountain ski conditions. Profitez!

20th Feb, Excellent Mountain Weather & Good Ski Conditions in the Vallee Blanche

Today was, as predicted THE day of the week & many teams were there to profit from the sunshine & snow. But most variations were getting skied & with good conditions on the semi pisted lower track to Chamonix it was easy to spread out & fully enjoy the sunny winter ambiance. We skied a right hand Petit Envers Glacier variation, quite close to the Vrai Vallee Blanche which gave an intricate entrance pitch and lovely open skiing in the huge lower bowl.

There were many teams skiing the Italian side of the icefall & Combe Vierge as well as masses of teams skinning up the Periades Glacier en route to the Breche Puiseaux & Col Capucin.

12th February 2014, Petit Envers & Good Snow all the Way to Chamonix

Despite a roaring north westerly wind battering those who descended the Aiguille du Midi today the snow conditions lower in the Vallee Blanche were pretty good & the southerly sloped of the Petit Envers were in enjoyable soft powder conditions. Lots of tracks but some fresh snow still to be had. The descent to Chamonix on the James Bond track is in considerably better condition than before thanks to recent snowfalls.

1st February 2014, Wind Blown Soft Snow From the Midi to Chamonix

After a feisty southerly wind had given us a stiff buffetting on the Midi snow ridge Tim & I enjoyed calmer conditions lower down on the middle Envers Glacier, skiing left of the Petit Rognon and cruising some creamy smooth wind blown snowy. The weather was arriving from Italy as per the forecast and heavy snowfalls are on the cards for tonight. Tomorrow should be a powder day!

We skied down to the end of the glacier in reasonable conditions, slightly rocky at the end and the same for the James Bond track which will benefit from snow down to 600m tonight.

31st January 2014, James Bond Track Now Pisted…Just needs more snow!

Enjoyable soft snow on the upper Vallee Blanche classic route this morning. We started ski touring over towards the cols of the Italian border but descending cloud & light snow fall saw us skiing lovely creamy powder back to join the normal route. After soup at the Requin Hut we were fortified to cross the Salle a Manger and ski all the way down the glacier & the James Bond track to Chamonix.

This track has been pisted to just below the Mottets Buvette meaning it is in better condition than would usually be expected. However it is still a bit rocky in places especially lower down near the railway crossing. The lower glacier section is also rocky and not advised for those with shiny new skis!

25th January 2014, Sun, Soft Snow & Skiers. La Vallee Blanche est Ouvert!

After a good 40cms of fresh snow, the strong winds of yesterday and more snow due tomorrow – today was always going to be ‘The Day’ for the VB and indeed, half of Chamonix had turned out to recognise this!. There was plenty of powder to go round though and busy at this time of year is still pretty quiet compared to the big days of Feb. Teams were skiing most variations with the exception of the Vrai. The passage left of the Geant Icefall is in decent condition and the traverse of the Salle a Manger was ok, but there are holes close to the track.

A tough team was making headway trailbreaking up the Periades which looked hard work in all the fresh snow – but they should been rewarded with a great ski down. We descended via the train although a few teams did continue towards the glacier snout & James Bond track which is reported as passable but rough! With more snow on the way to well below Chamonix level, things should improve there quite quickly….

21st January 2014, Improving Conditions on the Vallee Blanche

Little by little the glacier is filling in with snow more & more. There have been lots of good powder snow conditions high in the Vallee Blanche this season but the traverse of the Salle a Manger and exit to Montenvers have been thin & a bit icy. Happily the former is still the case and the latter is improving. Teams skiing a middle Envers glacier run today reported great snow in the upper glacier and reasonable lower down. This is still only to Montenvers and reports of the condition of the glacier snout end are not great at the moment.

18th January 2014, Midi Snow Ridge Now Equipped

The famous mountaineering exit from the Midi station is now equipped in order to aid the descent of teams of skiers. Whilst the big Z is not yet in place the central ridge has metal stakes and a fixed rope in place. The descent of this ridge is still steep, exposed and can be icy. It will generally be highly beneficial to have crampons on ski boots and skis fixed to the rucksack. The Midi is closed today due to strong southerly winds but with more snow in the forecast and some sunny spells, conditions could be good for Ski Vallee Blanche descents next week.

12th January 2014

Teams enjoying the lovely high mountain weather in the Mt Blanc Massif today – even if the snow cover is not as good as last year – there is still some good skiing to be had. The Arete is not yet equipped but does have some metal stakes in place with a single length of static rope between them. Excellent snow & skiing on the Envers glacier down towards the Requin Hut today. From there things are thin and rocky in the left hand exit couloirs and thin & even icy across the classic Salle a Manger. The ski exit from the glacier to Montenvers staircase is also a little tricky compared to last year.

31st December 2013, Good Snow, Lean Conditions in the Vallee Blanche

The Midi arete is not equipped at all and thus only a few teams with crampons on their ski boots were descending the snow arete. This works fine for teams who know what they are doing & have the right equipment – or hire a Guide! Various variations on the Envers Glacier route were being skied and a tight passage through the Salle a Manger was negotiated. Although a few tracks carried on towards the end of the Mer de Glace the majority of teams were getting off the glacier at Montenvers to take the train down. More snow is due above around 12-1400m from the 2nd Jan onwards so things should fill in a bit more up high on the glacier. Bon Ski, Happy New Year & Go Safely, Rob.

22nd December 2013, Good Upper Half Poor Lower Half to Vallee Blanche

Several teams skied the Envers Glacier today and exited above the Requin Hut and skiers left. Good powder was found in the upper reaches of the Envers Glacier but the lower section was rocky and poor at the moment and well in need of the snow forecast to arrive on Christmas day.

17th October, Good Snow Cover in the Upper Vallee Blanche

Probably a dozen teams skiing sections of the upper Vallee Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi today & tracks were seen on the Italian side from Punta Helbronner also. All teams were skinning back up to descend the lifts rather than carrying on down. Snow cover appears to be good up high for this time of year but obviously this does not extend very far down the glaciers before heavily crevassed ground is reached. Still, good early season sport & lots of teams getting some nice turns in today on the Gros Rognon variation.

11th September 2013, Skiers Seen in the Upper Vallee Blanche!

An unusual date for an entry about skiing the Vallee Blanche but nevertheless there was was a highly autumnal feel across the Col du Midi & Geant today and, with around 20cm of fresh snow – a stunning pristine atmosphere in the high mountains. The mountains are reverting to a calm & quiet state after august & high season fervour and the panormamic Mont Blanc bubbles are closed for the season and left out for a tough winter hanging on to the cables above the Vallee Blanche! A couple of skiers were enjoying the creamy fresh snow & putting in a long series of linked turns from the Col de Gros Rognon.

The good news for skiers & climber is that the snow up high and on the glaciers has not been stripped back as much as during other recent summers. This late summer / early autumn snow can provide a fine base for the winter ahead as the relatively mild & humid snow is good at sticking and not just getting blow around. Here is hoping for some great icy mixed climbing conditions this autumn and big powder days to kick the winter 2013 / 14 off to a great start….

12th March 2013 – The Return of the Powder to the Vallee Blanche

It took a little patience but the wait was worthwhile. We enjoyed great powder snow and a very quiet run down the steeper left hand side of the Vallee Blanche. A few other teams had done the Col du Plan variation and various others working right around to the Gros Rognon. Lovely to be skiing the light and fluffy again and it felt like a return to the conditions experienced for most of this winter season so far. Last weeks big thaw has stripped back the lower run down to Chamonix so taking the train down is advised.

11th March 2013, Fresh Snow & Sun at the Midi but Cloud in the Vallee Blanche

A delayed Midi lift opening can be frustrating in the morning but often hints of good things to come. In this case 40cms of fresh snow. When we finally made our way to the summit the clouds were beginning to part and reveal a superb pristine vista over the upper Mont Blanc Massif. Only the upper though as below around 3000m thick cloud persisted especially over the Vallee Blanche itself.

Later on a few teams skied down in to the clouds of the Grand Envers & Gros Rognon variations. Certainly the snow looked good in the upper sections but the thought of skiing in to a white out lower down on the glacier made us take the Aiguille du Midi lift variation on the Vallee Blanche!

A few days ago, after the week of feohn weather we skied out via the James Bond Track to see what it was like. After an initial rocky section by the huge boulder at the first hair pin there was decent continuous snow down to the last few zig zags above the railway crossing. Here a short walk was required before the final push on to the planards piste. Not exactly recommended – but not too bad either!

20th February 2013, Excellent Powder on the Italian Side of the Vallee Blanche

A highly enjoyable descent of the Italian Vallee Blanche from the Torino Hut today. Lots of soft powder as soon as the first pitch of higher slightly wind crusted snow had been skied. Many teams had also skinned up the Glacier des Periades and got some great fresh tracks on the high north facing glacial slopes there. Good conditions continue on the entire lower run too, all the way to Chamonix.

13th February 2013, Vast Powder Filled ‘Meadows’ in the Vallee Blanche

The first day of blue sky after several days of storm and lots of fresh snow is often special and today was no different. The mountains, plastered in fresh snow, look pristine again and the glacier, already extremely well charged up with snow, has had another thick coating. The Gros Rognon can be a bit of a push to get round in to with lots of fresh snow (especially on a snow board!) but once established a superb series of sustained pitches leads down towards the normal route and in to the Geant icefall left bank.

Thursday continues to be bright and sunny so there will be lots more fresh tracks to be had – and we have availability for guiding if you would like to ski the Vallee Blanche…

8th February 2013 – A Magic Carpet Ride…Pristine Powder in the Vallee Blanche

After the stom…finally the clouds parted – only just, but enough for many teams to enjoy fantastic powder snow on most variations on the French side of the Vallee Blanche – except the classic route – which may have been hard work today with lots of deep powder and slow going. We skied from the Italian side and enjoyed a wonderful pristine feel with no other tracks or teams around. The snow was pure velvet! The constant snow this winter has left the glacier extremely well filled in. Brilliant conditions at the moment…and more snow on the way!

17th January 2013 – Cold Weather But Great Snow & Skiing in the Vallee Blanche

It was -24C and blowing a bit of snow across the Midi snow ridge this morning – on a stiff Northerly breeze. Brrr indeed, but well worth the effort for once the ridge and lightly wind crusted snow near it had been negotiated, the skiing lower down was a real pleasure. Arctic like temperatures have prevailed since the last snow fall and consequently, anywhere not affected by the wind is chararcterised by cold, light & fluffy snow. Lower down on the flatter sections the very cold and dry track was proving quite slow going for boarders and skiers alike and a lot more pushing was required than normal!

We skied a Petit Envers variation just to the skiers right of the Petite Rognon. Great skiing and really impressive how well filled in the glacier is. The Italian side of the icefall only had 2 tracks on it, but it looks very good and well filled in compared to most years.

On the descent even some of the short cuts on the James Bond track still had powder on – the benefits of having good cold snow in mid-January with quiet hills – the powder lasts! More on the way this weekend. Bon Ski Week-end, Rob

9th January 2013 – ‘Classic’ Vallee Blanche Descent But Better Snow in Italy

A descent of the original or ‘classic’ Vallee Blanche today. Conditions are good in terms of snow cover but the snow was pretty wind blown and hacked up in places. More snow needed and, happily, plenty more on the way from tomorrow pm. There were a lot of teams enjoying what looked like better snow on the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche (Combe de la Vierge area) and then skiing the steeper and more serious Italian (skiers right) side to pass the Geant ice fall. Caught the train down for the first time this season. The approach to the Montenvers steps is impressively well filled in and pleasantly easy compared to other recent years.

3rd January – Brilliant! Continuous Powder in the Vallee Blanche Today

A really vintage and memorable descent today in extremely enjoyable conditions. The glacier and slopes in general appear to be very well filled in for early January and the snow was the ‘gift that keeps giving’ today with continuous deep powder from the station to the glacier snout. We skied a middle Envers Glacier run with leftward options to join the Grand Envers for it’s classic steep finish above the Requin Hut. Excellent conditions all the way.

Teams were skiing most variations with the possible exception of the ‘Vrai’ Vallee Blanche. The Italian side of the icefall was also tracked and a couple of teams were skinning up the Periades Glacier.

In other news, the equipping of the Arete has commenced and there are already now some hefty metal stakes knocked in along the line of the ridge and a bit of fixed rope. Crampons still essential. On another, very civilised, note the Buvette at the end of the walk up from the Glacier to the James Bond track is already open, adding a welcome café au lait dimension to the descent. Santé!

2nd January 2013 – Brilliant Skiing on the Envers Glaciers, Vallee Blanche

Fantastic conditions reported from teams skiing the Vallee Blanche today. Up to a foot of fresh snow had fallen adding to the already extensive base. Most teams headed for the Grand or Petit Envers routes not wanting to push through the powder on the longer flatter traverses of the classic route. With continuing cold, bright weather forecast these good conditions should prevail for a few days at least.

New Years Eve 2012 – Fun And Chaos For in the Vallee Blanche

Suddenly quite a lot more teams arrived at the Aiguille du Midi to ski the Vallee Blanche today. Not a problem there was plenty of space, good snow and fresh tracks in lovely buttery powder to go round for everyone. By contrast the snow ridge descending from the station was semi carnage as folk not geared up for mountaineering attempted to descend safely. Before the ridge is equipped (not until late Jan last year) the descent is a mountaineering itinerary requiring the use of crampons and ice axe with skis / board safely stashed on the pack. Attempting to ‘potter’ down without any of these items will most likely result in a slow & scary experience and potentially much worse. Mountaineering crampons are easily fitted to ski boots and specially designed crampons can be hired for snow boarding boots. Check out your pack too and work out how you can securely attach your skis / board

29th December 2012 – Superb Skiing in the Upper Vallée Blanche

Despite the perfect mid-winter weather and it being the weekend between Christmas & New Year there were not many folk up the Aiguille du Midi today. It was great to be back skiing in the Vallee Blanche again and conditions seemed pretty good for so early in the season. The combination of a cool showery autumn and cold snowy start to the winter, combined with recent high winds and freeze thaw events, seemed to have left the Glacier pretty well filled in. We enjoyed some great powder pitches on the Gros Rognon variation and whilst some teams traverses the Salle à Manger we cut out left and skied the couloir well left of the Requin Hut. The lower glacier was also well filled in and with a rattly rain crust provided fast passage down to the Glacier snout & a reasonable run down the James Bond track all the way down to Chamonix.

Christmas Eve 2012 in the Vallée Blanche

The much awaited opening of the Aiguille du Midi lift has enabled a few adventurous parties to descend the Vallee Blanche from the Chamonix side. Prior to that a handful of descents had been made from the Italian Hellbronner side and reported reasonable conditions despite it being very early season. On Christmas Eve several teams skied both the Gros Rognon and Petit Envers Variations and skied out via both the ‘normal’ Salle a’ Manger exit to the icefall and also hard skiers left from the Requin Hut. Both teams were wary of it being very early winter with regard to skiing on the glacier and roped up for the more complicated and flatter sections.

The heavy thaw over the Christmas period has stripped a lot of snow from the lower valleys but, with a return to colder conditions from the 26th December and for the rest of the week, this should help to stabilise the high mountain snow pack. Teams descended all the way to Chamonix and reported good conditions on the ‘James Bond’ track although, unsurprisingly several of the gullies crosses by the Montenvers railway had slid during the major thaw.

3rd November 2012, Some Very Early Ski Forays in to the Vallee Blanche

High in the Mont Blanc Massif a number of ski forays have already been made with several bold teams skiing parts of the upper Vallee Blanche and one highly adventurous team skiing the Glacier Rond on the Aiguille du Midi North Face. Such early season glacial ski journeys are not without hazard as crevasses can be well hidden by fresh snow but not yet strongly bridged. However as the cool & showery weather continues with fresh snow & strong winds up high the glaciers should are recharging well after the hot summer melt-down and receiving a welcome boost of snow that didn’t really arrive until December last year. Remember to let us know via the comments button at the base of the page if you have any fresh information on the ski conditions in the Valllee Blanche or throughout the Mont Blanc Massif.

16th April, Thick Cloud With a Bright Layer Above

Again, a few teams who had checked the webcams or were feeling lucky headed up the Midi lift in to the thick cloud and mist. They were all rewarded high up with stunning views over a thick layer of inversion cloud. Great skiing in fresh snow up high but then difficult conditions skiing down the glacier in to the mist lower down. This pattern may continue over the next day or so…

13th April 2012, The Clouds Part to Reveal Fine Fresh Tracks in the Vallee Blanche

Just a few teams sneaking down the Vallee Blanche today. An opportunistic approach was required to depart when the clouds had been swept away. Lots of good fresh snow up high.

6th April 2012, Spring Powder in the Vallee Blanche

A number of teams sneaked down the Vallee Blanche in good style today despite the anticipated poor weather. Recent cool & showery conditions have added some fresh powder up high and helped to arrest the progression of dryer conditions and opening crevassses! The weather for the next few days is set to do more of the same…Happy Easter!

2nd April 2012, Signs of Spring Strain in the Vallee Blanche

A much quieter day was enjoyed in the Vallee Blanche today after the busy weekend. The morning sun softened the snow but then afternoon cloud stopped it going too slushy so conditions remained good. We ski toured across to the Italian side via the Col de Flambeux and skied the Combe Vierge. A few crevasses are starting to appear as the snow recedes, particularly lower down and around the Salle a’ Manger. A bit of snow and cooler weather would help preserve the ski Vallee Blanche season and it looks like this is just what is on the way over the next few days….

31st March 2012, The World Skies the Vallee Blanche

The cool Northerly wind did little to deter hundreds & thousands of skiers who enjoyed skiing the Vallee Blanche today. Conditions remain ok with much better skiing once the tracked spring snow is sun softened later in the day. Continuing warm weather has stripped back the cover with many more rocks showing through and some crevasses visibly growing by the day.

27th March 2012, Quiet Slopes With Great Spring Snow

The lift queues at the Aiguille du Midi this morning were non-existent. A pleasant effect of late season, mid-week skiing. Despite the lack of skiers the conditions remain good and we enjoyed a slightly later start (skiing at about 11) to enjoy sun softened snow on the Petit Envers variation. The bumps on the classic left hand passing of the Geant icefall are getting bigger but don’t feel too bad once they have become a bit softer. Lower down there is the option for a bit of ‘ski canyoning’ where the glaciers melt water channels provide an entertaining funnel to ski. These have been a pleasant site seeing addition to the descent over the last month or so but now have large ‘puddles’ in the channel and are increasingly presenting an ‘aquatic’ ski challenge. A great spectator sport from the sanctity of the flat glacier above!

25th March 2012, Classic Spring Snow on a Bumpy Ride Down the Vallee Blanche

Lots of teams enjoying most variations on the Vallee Blanche today. We skied the classic route which was softening nicely by lunchtime. The upper section includes lots of light bumps in softish snow. Lower down, after lunch at the Requin Hut things were smoother and more spring like. The key passage through the Geant icefall is bumpy but fine for good skiers. We passed the main steeper bumpy section via a traverse to the hard skiers left which involved a very short slide over a bare ice section. Still lots of teams skiing down to the end of the Glacier but we joined most teams in taking the Montenvers railway down.

23rd March 2012, The ‘Cappuccino Run’, Midi to Hellbroner

Deep fresh soft snow and a cool wind gave an adventurous feel to the excellent skinning journey across the upper Vallee Blanche today. The effort trail breaking was substantial but the reward was not only fresh tracks but also Limonata, Panini and cappucino in the excellent cafe at Punta Hellbroner (3462m). There are not many cafes that can boast both such a high altitude and a picture of the Pope enjoying a visit!

For the descent of the Vallee Blanche from the Italian side we skied from the Col Flambeux as the snow in the Combe Vierge looked highly wind effected. Conditions were good in the VB and the recent fresh snow had helped smooth out the big and bumpy section on the passage through the Geant icefall. Whilst folk were still skiing past Montenvers towards the end of the Glacier this must now involve a substantial walk down the James Bond track and most teams preferred to take the train down.

13th March 2012, Good Spring Snow High in the Vallee Blanche

The very mild conditions today gave sun warmed snow this morning even above 3000m on the Envers du Plan variation of the Vallee Blanche. We skied a middle envers exiting left and down the steepish couloirs above and skiers left of the Requin Hut. This was bumpy but sun softened and pleasant. The James Bond Track back down to Chamonix is getting a bit rocky and has a few sections of walking but was still reasonable.

Many teams were ascending the Periades en route to ski the Mont Mallet Glacier and, for the first time this season, a lot of tracks were coming through the Italian side of the Geant icefall although it still looks quite complicated. A few teams had also skied the Combe Noir.

4th March 2012, Ride the wild moguls in the Vallee Blanche….But snow on the way

With very little snowfall in the month of February good conditions in the Vallee Blanche have lasted extremely well. The skiing on the classic route today was pleasant ‘flat pack’ turning to ‘soft spring’ lower down on the Mer de Glace this afternoon. The moguls however have had the passage of many many skiers to aid their progress from molehills to mountains! The bumps on the Voie Normale are ‘obligatoire’ and not for the faint hearted. Conditions are such that you need to be pretty confident negotiating big moguls to tackle the VB at the moment. The fresh snow due tonight and tomorrow should help a bit in reducing their impact a little. It is still possible to ski to Chamonix although a few rocky and bare sections on the ‘James Bond Track’ need to be negotiated. Bon Ski.

25th & 26th February 2012, Changing Seasons in the Vallee Blanche

After very mild weather and soft snow conditions in the Vallee Blanche yesterday today was a different story. A hard freeze overnight combined with icy northerly winds today gave a widespread and tough melt freeze crust. This provided some rattling and challenging ski conditions! Snow cover remains good although a few stones are coming through on the track to Chamonix. The weather for the week ahead is generally fair with some sunny days and cold nights and mornings. The transition towards spring conditions will continue and timing will become important to hit the spring snow sweet spot!

22nd February, Great Snow on Variations to Vallee Blanche Variations….

It’s amazing how busy the descent of the Vallee Blanche can feel at the ‘bottle necks’ and how quiet it can feel as soon as you make a couple of turns off the main motorway. We found good snow today on the East Facing slopes between the classic Petit Envers variation and the Vrai Vallee Blanche. Sections on the normal route are getting a bit bumpy but overall conditions are still excellent. The final icy, and increasingly slightly rocky, slope down the snout of the glacier can be completely avoided by a pleasant traverse right a couple of hundred metres above down an entertaining small snow gorge. A team were singing old Savoyard folk songs at the Buvette on the way down and, along with the perfect sunny weather, a lively holiday atmosphere pervaded!

17th February, High Season in the Vallee Blanche

The arete is fully equiped, the Requin Hut and Buvette are selling Orangina’s and café au lait like hot cakes and it is February half term…High season in the Vallee Blanche given an even bigger holiday atmosphere with sun, blue skies, great snow conditions and, happily, warmer temperatures. The Arctic atmosphere that has gripped the Northern Alps for the last couple of weeks was released today and their was even a touch of spring in the air.

We skied the Petit Envers variation on the Vallee Blanche, enjoyed a few turns in shallow fresh powder high up but then mainly skied in good grippy firm snow. Snow conditions are generally very good all the way down to Chamonix. A few skiers had come in on the Italian side of the Geant Icefall but it still looks quite serious and appears to be less well filled in than the French side. A few teams were also skinning their way up the Periades Glacier.

Tomorrow looks like more of the same with a return to cool snowy conditions on Sunday. Early next week looks like more excellent weather on the way so do get in touch if you are looking for a Vallee Blanche Guide.

12th February, Vallee Blanche Gros Rognon Skied Despite Strong Winds up High

Cold cold air temperatures combined with northerly winds gave teams descending the Vallee Blanche today an arctic like icy blast straight out of the Aiguille du Midi. Decent snow conditions were reported descending the Gros Rognon variation but only in the existing tracks. Undisturbed snow had a tricky windcrust and was best avoided. Ski conditions on the lower Vallee Blanche, Mer de Glace and track to Chamonix continue to be good. It looks like Monday and Friday may be the best days for skiing the Vallee Blanche this week as cloudy weather with some fresh snow is forecast from Tuesday.

3rd February, High Season & Good Snow in the Vallee Blanche

Despite Antarctic like temperatures many teams enjoyed a descent of the Vallee Blanche today, from both France and Italy. Most variations on the French side were getting skied but only the Col de Flambeux on the Italian approach with no fresh tracks in the Combe Vierge. Skis felt pretty sticky in the very cold dry snow and a light wind crust had formed giving less perfect skiing than at much lower altitudes at the moment. Many teams were skiing the Glacier de Toule and tracks were going in to ski the Marbrees Couloir and skinning high up the Periades Glacier, presumably to ski the Breche Puiseaux.

26th January, Superb Deep Powder Conditions in the Vallee Blance

The single day of good weather this week was taken advantage of by many and huge grins were reported in proportion to the massive deep powder turns and sunshine in the Vallee Blance. More cool, snowy and cloudy weather is on the way over the weekend which will only improve conditions for when the sun comes out again!

23rd January, Even More Snow in the Vallee Blanche

Despite the recent thaw stripping snow back in the lower valleys the Vallee Blanche has received another metre of fresh snow! Teams were back skiing the route today and reported varied conditions according to elevation. Good fresh tracks were found up high and decent cover remains all the way down to Chamonix.

13th January Good Soft Snow in the Vallee Blanche & Argentiere Glacier

The Midi snow arete now has been made wider and with tough metal stakes linked by thick rope on either side the descent is now easier than usual. The arete is still described as ‘not equipped’ as the large snow terraces that appear later in the season are still under construction. However, along with lots of skiers, the Requin Hut being open for drinks the Vallee Blanche had more of an ‘open for business feel’ as good snow conditions prevailed with skiers on nearly all routes on the French side as well as the normal route on the Italian side. We found some good snow on variations to the Petit Envers variation and exited the Geant Icefall via the Salle a’ Manger.
Good conditions on the ‘James Bond’ track gave a swift and easy descent to Chamonix which left time to nip up to the summit of the Grands Montets and enjoy a superb quiet descent of the Argentiere Galcier with sublime evening light. This route is not super well filled in at the moment but there is a good track and some interesting short passages require side stepping and some precise turns.
Fit skiers can complete both itineraries in a day giving a great experience of the high mountain glaciers of the Chamonix Valley.

11th January Vallee Blanche Italian Style

The Aiguille du Midi was closed all day today leaving empty pristine slopes on the French side of the Italian Vallee Blanche. We skied the route from the Italian side via Punta Hellbronner. As always the coffee was half the price and twice the quality over there but the snow not quite as good! The strong North Westerly winds have scoured the slopes leaving less powder and mainly a windblown sastrugi smeared hard snowpaxk. There was still some good skiing to be had and perfect weather for this great ski journey.

9th January, Great Skiing in The Vallee Blanche

After several days of thick cloud engulfing the mountains the valley finally enjoyed a clearing today and the curtain dropped on masses of deep soft powder for the entire descent of the Vallee Blanche. We skied the Petit Envers variation whilst other teams also enjoyed the Grand Envers and Vrai Vallee Blanche. The descent to Chamonix via the ‘James Bond’ Track was in good shape all the way to the Planards pistes and streets of Chamonix.
To finish the day we also skied the Pre du Rocher off the Plan de l’Aiguille and, as is often the case. there was fine snow in the open meadows below the Plan but a tougher finish through the trees characterised by bumps and then a fast track crossing the 4 avalanche debris gullies.

3rd January 2012, More Powder in Vallee Blanche

Fine skiing in the Vallee Blanche today although the cloud descended a little in the afternoon preventing most teams from doing another lap. We skied the Gros Rognon variation and enjoyed good powder all the way down to the Salle a Manger. This had a good track in providing a straightforward crossing. Teams had skied both the Grand and Petit Envers although not many on the latter and a helicopter was seen hovering over this route for much of the afternoon.
We also had some great turns heading north from the Plan de l’Aiguille and down the Pre du Rocher. Lower down in the trees the fresh powder gave way to the old rain crust and the track running back to the Midi car park gave a full combat skiing!

26th December 2011, Classic Vallee Blanche

We went for a look at conditions along the Vallee Blanche classic route this morning to blow away the Christmas Turkey. It is still very early season and care is needed negotiating crevasses. We skied one section on the skiers left of the Geant Icefall roped together. No tracks were in place and whilst this gave an impressive ‘lonely’ early season feel there was some great skiing to be had on the Grosse Rognon variation. Some teams had exited the Petite Envers and Italian Route via the Salle a Manger and reported decent conditions. We traversed hard skiers left from the Requin Hut (as per for the whole of last season) to access the Envers du Plan exit couloirs. The furthest left and easiest couloir was fine but the traverse from the Hut is not yet filled in with snow and a short booting section across easy mixed terrain was required. The exit from the snout of the Mer de Glace; boot up to the Buvette and ski down the James Bond track were all pleasant and straightforward. A number of tracks were noted joining the Mer de Glace from the Grands Montets classic ‘Pas de Chevre’ route.