Anyone skied the Vallee Blanche?

(10 Posts)
trixymalixy Mon 03-Mar-14 19:04:19

DH wants to when we're in Chamonix at the end of March. I'm not sure I'm too keen on the ridge walking with skis strapped to my back.

Is it worth it?

SteamboatSprings Tue 04-Mar-14 15:09:56

I haven't because I was too scared of crevasses. I didn't think it was worth it.

slalomsuki Wed 05-Mar-14 10:37:31

I have and it was a fantastic experience which apart from the initial walk was fairly easy skiing.

The initial walk is down some icy steps cut in to the snow. It was windy on the day we did it which made it a big more difficult but the guide with us carried our skis some of the way and we weren't in any danger or discomfort. They were not strapped to our backs but over our shoulders as you would normally and the walk was 10 minutes maximum.

The Vallee was fab, starts with some smooth skiing on a very wide piste like place with no danger. At the end of this nice the Italian skiers have joined it then becomes a bit more narrow but no more than a normal piste. You stop somewhere for lunch either in a hut where there is a toilet or on the slope. It's the bottom part that becomes more path like when you have to ski and turn to avoid the crevasses but even then it wasn't dangerous. When we did it we skied in to Chamonix but sometimes due to the snow at the bottom you can't do that and have to get a lift down.

All in all it was a great day.

SteamboatSprings Wed 05-Mar-14 16:51:27

Maybe I'll do it next time then grin

Abzs Wed 05-Mar-14 17:24:32

I did it with DH, SIL and her DP. We didn't hire a guide as we've all walked, climbed or skied on glaciers before. The ridge descent to the gearing up point was fine for us. It had snow on it and fixed ropes. If it's icy you may need crampons to get down it, but it's usually doable without.

I carried my skis a-frame style on my rucksack. It takes a bit of getting used to but you have your hands free. We had bigger bags than most and we had all our own crevasse rescue kit. Some guided groups seemed to have rather less individual kit, or perhaps they were wearing normal piste skiing clothes and we had a bag of mountaineering style layers.

If you hire a guide they will help you with your skis and your kit if you need. They can hire you appropriate skis and kit if you need it. They should teach you (briefly at least) what to do if someone does go in a crevasse or get injured. You'll also get priority on the lifts.

The skiing isn't difficult overall. It starts off wide and sweeping. There's one steeper section as you pass down the side of the seracs (red standard), followed by a narrower bit around the bottom of them where there are crevasses then then glacier opens out again. You can feel the ridges of snow filled crevasses in the lower section as you ski over them.

There wasn't enough snow to ski back to town when we went, so we came down on the train. Be prepared to be shocked by the signs on the stairs up to the train that show you just how far the glacier has receded in the last 20 years.

It's a big day out, but worth doing. And you'll get to see the new glass bridge at the Midi.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Wed 05-Mar-14 21:07:56

We did it many years ago (pre dc when I was fit!)

It was touch and go whether it would be possible due to huge snow falls and a high avalanche risk but we were able to go ahead as planned. The guide provided avalanche transceivers (is that the correct word?!), shovels and poles and gave us a safety talk.

The ridge walk was fine. We were roped together as a group and took it very steadily.

The skiing was tough due to the amount of fresh snow. Off piste skis have progressed a lot since we went though. There was an area of large ice boulders and the guide commented that several of them had moved significantly since his last trip 2 days previously! We didn't linger in that area! Several times we had to stick very closely to our guides' tracks as we went over snow bridges crossing crevasses.

We were able to ski right down into Chamomix. It was an amazing and exhausting day - we were all in bed, asleep by 8pm!

Johnogroats Mon 10-Mar-14 16:14:24

Hi all. Does anyone know whether you can still do this in early May? I am a good skier, but not v experienced in off piste. I would love to do the glass cage if the vallee blanche season is over.

Abzs Mon 10-Mar-14 17:42:13

I suppose it would be more dependant on the snow conditions. You'd need to go early (hire a guide who can get you on an early lift) as it's safer when the snow and seracs on the glacier are still frozen from overnight. We went in early April and there wasn't snow at Montenvers at the end of the glacier. Most of the lower slopes were a bit thin by then that year.

Johnogroats Tue 11-Mar-14 10:15:21

Thanks Abzs...I am not expecting to be able to do it (probably won't take ski kit), but am looking forward to going up Aiguille du Midi....we'll scope it out for another year!

Theonlyoneiknow Tue 11-Mar-14 13:26:23

Yes but on a snowboard which I wouldn't do again! Would be better on skis!

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