Climbing in Chamonix is more than a pastime – it’s a way of life here, with a rich history of legendary climbs and pioneering climbers. It’s also a perfect place to learn or improve. With nearly four vertical kilometers from the top of Mont Blanc to the valley floor, there’s an abundance of climbing of every possible level in the valley.
Beginner’s lessons are available from Evolution 2, or the Compagnie des Guides, who offer courses from half a day upwards at the crags of Les Gaillands (see below). If you are just starting to get into climbing, or even if this is your first time on the rock, these crags are one of the best places in the world to begin. Afterwards, you can soak in the hot tub looking at the mighty vertical mile of the Dru with real appreciation for those who scale its 38 pitches….
Climbing is a great family activity and all the above companies can organise family climbing trips. Here’s a good blog post, aimed at experienced climbers with kids but useful for anyone: Climbing with kids.
Only a stroll away from the chalet is the historic Pierre d’Orthaz boulder – from the 50s to the 70s, this was the focus of a campsite where the world’s finest climbers would stay, and practise their techniques on the granite. Now rather polished but definitely worth a visit.
Bouldering at the Col Des Montets is just a 10 minute drive and it’s a lovely area with a good variety of grades. More about bouldering in Chamonix
The crags of Chamonix
Chamonix has several wonderful areas of bolted crags, of which perhaps the most famous is Les Gaillands. In a lovely wooded setting by a lake reflecting Mont Blanc, complete with a small cafe, they have the most enormous variety of bolted routes from 3a to 7b. The spectacular Aiguilette d’Argentiere (see photo) is also a great spot. The book “Chamonix Cragging” is indispensable if you are climbing there yourself – there is a copy of this at the chalet which you’re welcome to borrow. It can be bought at most climbing shops in Chamonix if you’d like your own. More about crag climbing in Chamonix
And from there…
The unbelievable range of climbs throughout the valley is more than I can ever hope to cover here! It’s unique in its variety, beauty and accessibility. Two companies that run courses to introduce you to the bigger climbs, and to advance from there, are:
Icicle Mountaineering and Mountaingirl.
Our Mountaineering section