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Advanced Winter Mountaineering Course Chamonix

Advanced Winter Mountaineering - 5 Days of Alpinism in the Mont Blanc Massif

Our Chamonix advanced winter alpine climbing course is the second level of our winter mountaineering programme. Following on from the success of our introduction to winter mountaineering course and listening to our clients' recommendations, we decided to create a more challenging and advanced course for more experienced climbers.

If you want to explore the Chamonix valley and climb some serious ascents in the Mont Blanc Massif, this course is designed for you.

Our advanced winter mountaineering course is based on a 1:2 ratio (one guide to two clients) for the full five days, so you are not limited in difficulty and choice of routes.

The advanced winter mountaineering programme is designed for mountaineers inclined to learn and improve their alpine climbing skills and who have interest in climbing harder routes, either mixed climbs, ice climbs or gullies at high altitude.

Over five days we cover ice climbing, mixed climbing (rock and ice), snow and ice gullies, use of protection in these types of terrain, and safety techniques.

If all members of the group are good skiers it is possible that we can offer access to some of the areas on skis, in order to save time and energy!

The course objectives include:

  • Trip planning  (selection of appropriate itinerary, weather forecast, etc). 
  • Hazard evaluation (cornices, seracs, avalanche, rock fall, bergshrunds)
  • Selection and preparation of the right equipment. 
  • Route finding on multi-pitch climbs
  • Building of belays and rope work during the ascent
  • Team work (communication and efficiency)
  • Advanced techniques in ice/mixed/ rock climbing. How to climb fast and efficiently
  • Safety techniques for fast and secure abseiling (communication, use of prussic, building / selecting appropriate anchors)
  • Retreat techniques
  • Lot of fun climbing

Description

Advanced Winter Mountaineering Course Requirements

This course is for those who have already done some summer or winter alpine climbing. As well as a good level of fitness you should have the following experience:

  • Basic rope work skills (e.g. knots, how to belay and rappel, etc.)
  • Basic crampon and ice axe skills
  • At least 5 multi-pitch routes in either sport or traditional climbing
  • At least one day of ice climbing
  • At least one alpine route (summer or winter)

For the climbing experience above, the grades are not important and lead climbing is not required.

It is essential that you are physically very fit. You will be expected to climb fairly long routes and have enough strength left to descend back to the valley. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need advice about how to train and prepare for this course.

We recommend taking our Winter Alpine Climbing Introduction Course, our 5 Day Ice Climbing Course or one of our summer alpine climbing courses prior to this course.

Price

1350€

Price per person for groups of minimum 2 and maximum 4 participants. If you are interested in a private 1:1 course, please contact us for the price. We will be delighted to create a custom made itinerary for you.

Course Dates

2017
Start Date End Date Spaces
G
Dec 17 Dec 21 3
Dec 25 Dec 29 4
2018
Start Date End Date Spaces
Jan 08 Jan 12 4
Jan 22 Jan 26 4
Feb 05 Feb 09 4
Feb 19 Feb 23 4
Mar 05 Mar 09 4
Mar 19 Mar 23 4
Apr 02 Apr 06 4
Apr 16 Apr 20 4

G
  The Course is guaranteed to run


Included

Guide Fees

5 days of guiding and instruction by a UIAGM qualified mountain guide.

Accommodation (half-board)

1 night in a mountain hut with breakfast and dinner included.

Group Equipment

Ropes, safety equipment, etc will be provided when needed by your guide.

Local Transport

Any local transport that is required during your course.

Office Support

Our team is based at the foot of the Aiguillle du Midi cable car and will be happy to help you with any questions you may have before, during or after your trip to Chamonix.

Not Included

Accommodation

Accommodation in Chamonix is not included in the price but we would be happy to advise or organise it on request.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you take our Search and Rescue mountain insurance - we can organise this for you on request.

Lift Passes

We will advise you on which lift passes you will need prior to your trip. If lift passes are required we can preorder them for you on request.

Food & Drink

The price does not include lunch or snacks. You can bring your own food and we can stop for a picnic, or there may be the option to buy lunch at a mountain hut. Please make sure that you are carrying sufficient water and snacks as we will be in the mountains for a number of hours.

Travel to Chamonix

The price does not include flights, airport transfers or any other travel to/from Chamonix. However, we can organise airport transfers for you on request, please contact us for details.

Advanced Winter Mountaineering Itinerary

Please note that the itinerary proposed below is an example of what can be done in ideal conditions.

Your mountain guide will carry out a daily assessment of the conditions and your capabilities to decide on the best routes to climb.

You will meet with your mountain guide and the other members of your group on the evening before the course starts. The purpose of this meeting is for you to ask any questions you may have regarding the course and to verify that you have all the equipment required.

Day 1 - Mixed Climbing in Argentiere

We might start off the course by climbing a snow and ice gully next to the Argentière glacier. Your mountain guide will pick a good spot to review your technique. This will be a little refresher of your climbing skills on a multi-pitch route, with your guide instructing and giving you help when needed. It is also the perfect day to discuss the hazard evaluation and trip planning. 

Day 2 - Ice Climbing in Cogne

Today we head through the Mont Blanc tunnel to one of Europe's best ice climbing spots in Cogne, Italy.

This will be a great day to improve your anchoring techniques and your body position while climbing steep sections. Your guide will teach you how to stay safe on belays and abseiling.

Day 3 - Ice Climbing in Montriond

Today we will climb a long multi-pitch ice route in the nearby region of Montriond, where there are many frozen cascades to choose from amongst the gorges and beside the lake.

Day 4 - Aiguille du Midi

Two days of climbing with an overnight stay in a mountain hut awaits us.

We start by taking the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to the top and then traversing across to the Goulotte de la Passerelle ice gully.

After a day of high altitude climbing, we spend the night in the Cosmiques refuge.

Day 5 - Mont Blanc du Tacul

We finish our course with a stunning route up Modica Noury, a beautiful icy gully up on the east face of Mont-Blanc du Tacul.

We return to Chamonix at the end of the day for a celebratory drink together!

Clothing

Mountaineering boots

Mountaineering boots

Warm hat

Warm hat

Thermal underwear

Thermal underwear

Fleece or woollen layers

Fleece or woollen layers

Light puffer jacket

Light puffer jacket

Windproof and waterproof jacket

Windproof and waterproof jacket

Windproof and waterproof trousers

Windproof and waterproof trousers

Warm gloves

Warm gloves

Gaiters

Gaiters

Thin gloves

Thin gloves

Technical gear

Ice Axe

Ice Axe

Harness

Harness

Screwgate carabiner

Screwgate carabiner

60 - 120 cm tape sling

60 - 120 cm tape sling

Belay device

Belay device

Climbing helmet

Climbing helmet

35 - 45 litres rucksack

35 - 45 litres rucksack

Pair of technical ice axes

Pair of technical ice axes

Ice climbing crampons

Ice climbing crampons

Snowshoes

Snowshoes

Telescopic poles

Telescopic poles

Safety Equipment

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

Extras

Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Water bottle (1 litre minimum)

Water bottle (1 litre minimum)

Sun cream high protection (for lips and face)

Sun cream high protection (for lips and face)

Headlamp with fresh batteries

Headlamp with fresh batteries

Sleeping bag liner

Sleeping bag liner

Equipment hire

We highly recommend that you book the equipment with us at least 2 weeks in advance as the hire shops can have limited availability in the busy season. You can collect your equipment on the evening before the start of the course and return it on the evening at the end of your course. We work with the following shops :

• Concept pro shop (100 Place de l'Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France) open 7/7 8 :00h – 19 :00h

Bespoke Private Guiding

We are always happy to organise private guiding, tailored to the needs of any sized group. We have lots of experience in organising corporate events, specialist courses and group trips for all kinds of people no matter what your age or experience. Please get in touch if you would like more information.

Insurance

We highly recommend that you take out specific insurance for mountain activities. We can organise this at a cost of 8€ per day for EU citizens and 12€ per day for non-EU citizens. This will cover you for search and rescue services, evacuation by helicopter and emergency medical treatment. You should also make sure that you have adequate travel insurance that covers you for the usual things such as cancelled flights, lost luggage, hospital treatment, etc. Please contact us to organise mountain rescue insurance for your trip.

Chamonix Lift Passes

Please note that lift passes are not included in the price of this trip. However, we are happy to organise them for you and have them ready for you on arrival, please contact us to find out more about Chamonix lift passes.

Accommodation in Chamonix

If you wish to book accommodation in Chamonix we would be happy to recommend some local hotels, gites, self-catered apartments, or chalets and advise on the best locations. Please contact us if you would like help finding accommodation in Chamonix.

Getting to Chamonix

Chamonix is one of the easiest alpine resorts to get to, being just over an hour's drive from Geneva international airport. Lyon, Turin and Milan airports are also all within a few hour's drive. The best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix is by transfer bus, either shared with other passengers or private. You will be met in the arrivals lounge by your driver and dropped at your accommodation in Chamonix, there is no extra charge for your luggage or equipment. We work only with the most reliable transfer companies in the valley and are happy to organise your journey for you, please contact us for prices and booking.

Staying in Mountain Huts

The high alpine huts are one of the big attractions to mountaineering or trekking in the Alps. They allow us the time to enjoy the mountains with only light packs and without having to worry about meals or finding somewhere to sleep! Most huts have only very basic facilities. Sleeping arrangements are in mixed sex dormitory-style rooms with bunks; there can be up to 20 people in one room.

Washing facilities are limited and generally there is no running water in any of the huts although this may vary in some huts. There are basins in which you can use bottled water to wash and clean your teeth, but they are NOT generally in private cubicles and are mixed sex. Toilets are generally septic-tank type (so non-flushing) and again mixed sex. You need to be prepared for simple living in the huts and appreciate they are located at high altitude and in inhospitable terrain.

A 3-course evening meal and breakfast are served by the guardian and his team and food is usually nourishing and filling. Beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks are also available. All food and drink in the huts is delivered by helicopter and consequently prices will be high e.g. between 3- 5€ or 8CHF for a 1.5 litre bottle of still water.

• On arriving at the hut you must take off your boots and leave these together with your ice-axe and crampons in the foyer. Be sure to store these carefully as the hut is likely to get very busy and you’ll need to find all your kit in the morning rush!
• House slippers are provided and must be worn in the hut
• Your guide will register you with the guardian and will assign you your bunk
• Follow the instructions of your guide and keep requests to the guardian and his team to a minimum – they are usually very busy sorting out groups, cooking meals, keeping the hut clean
• In the morning your guide will often want to leave early – be sure to have all your kit ready to go the night before. Be organized and everything will be much easier!
• It is recommended to bring ear-plugs for the nights – but make sure that you get up on time!

Food

We suggest you bring snacks and packed lunch for each day that you are out in the mountains. Sandwiches, cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and sweets are all good for energy and easy to carry. Don't forget to bring plenty of water - dehydration occurs much more rapidly at altitude, especially when you are burning lots of energy.

You will generally stop for short breaks every hour or so, when you should eat and drink something in order to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

When staying in huts it's best to take supplies for however many days that you are in the mountains, the huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low. If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend that you bring some food to supplement your hut dinners. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs. The huts can provide a small basic packed lunch of bread, salami, cheese and chocolate that you can buy each day but it’s important that you don’t rely on this option only. You do need to carry some snack food for each day.

Optional equipment

Thermos – Not essential due to weight, but it can be comforting to have a hot drink on a cold day.

Water bottle – Should be at least 1.5 litres and durable. 
Camelbak hydration systems. Good as long as they are kept clean. Not recommended for winter sports as the tube tends to freeze up.

A spare pair of warm gloves - essential!

Lot of the climbing routes are easily and quickly accessed on skis. There is no better finish of a climbing day than an amazing powder ski down to Chamonix! So if you are comfortable off piste skiing in any snow conditions, bring your skis with you! Please note that the skis will be used for approaches / descents only if all of the course participants agree to it.

Our Guides

All Chamex mountain guides are fully qualified, highly experienced and passionate about what they do. Everyone who works as part of the Chamex team has been throughly vetting and is trusted by us to give our clients the best experience possible - you are in safe hands! If you would like to know more then you can meet the Chamex team here.

Cascade de Lillaz, Cogne

Ice-climbing-cognes-02

Cascade de Lillaz is in a beautiful valley in the Cogne region of Italy, just an hour and a half drive from Chamonix. It has an easy approach of 10-15 minutes walk from the village of Lillaz.

This icefall is 200m or 6-7 pitches of beautiful grade 3 ice climbing. The first pitch has three options of various difficulties with sections of between 60º and 85º steep ice. The second pitch has a 15m section of 70º ice. The third pitch has 20m section of 80º ice and the 4th and 5th pitches are easy sloping ice climbs.

Cascade de Lillaz is perfect for beginners but also has enough variation to keep experienced ice climbers very happy.

Goulotte Vent du Dragon on Aiguille du Midi

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Goulotte Vent du Dragon offers 250m of amazing mixed climbing on the NW face of the Aiguille du Midi, the crux is on the 3rd pitch and is graded M5.

The route is accessed by a couple of rappels from the summit station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car.

Finish by the final section of the Arete des Cosmiques.

This is a very interesting route, ideal for training to climb more serious mixed routes.

 

Goulotte Perroux/Profit on the Aiguille du Midi

Winter-alpine-climbing-chamonix-cosmiques-01

Another short but intense mixed climbing route, on the most exposed area of the Aiguille du Midi.

The Goulotte Perroux/Profit is accessed by a number of rappels from the summit station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car.

Five pitches of mixed climbing over 250m, with the crux (grade M5) on the 4th pitch, finishing on the classic Arete des Cosmiques ridge.

Goulotte Burnier Vogler

Alpine-climbing-chamonix-01

The Goulotte Burnier Vogler is a nice and easily accessible mixed route on the NW face of the Cosmiques Arete, reached by abseiling from the Aiguille du Midi cable car station.

At the start, this climb follows the beginning of the Cosmiques ridge and then descends 6 abseils down the NW face. The actual climb is 250m or 6 pitches of mixed climbing with the hardest part, 60m of M4, on the final pitch.

This route finishes by the final part of the Cosmiques ridge to the Aiguille du Midi lift station.

Goulotte Pellissier on the Pointes Lachenal

Winter-alpine-climbing-chamonix-06

The Goulotte Pellissier is a highly recommanded technical route located in the heart of the Vallee Blanche. This route is accessed from the top of the Aiguille du Midi lift station, via Col du Midi in the ENE direction towards the Gros Rognon and Pointes Lachenal.

It is 4 pitches of mixed climbing up to M5 with a beautiful relatively sustained climb with the crux on the third pitch.

To descend you rappel back down the route; you can then return to the Aiguille du Midi lift station and take the cable car back to Chamonix, or you can ski back down the Vallée Blanche.

Lillaz Gully, Cogne

The Lillaz Gully is a superb and varied ice climb in a beautiful place. 

Access is from the village of Lillaz, with a 1 hour approach scrambling up the snow covered summer stream.

The gully offers 6 pitches of technical ice climbing up to grade 4/4+ with a tricky mixed crux. 200 meters of pleasure for this scenic climb. On a clear day you have fantastic views of Mont Blanc.

The descent is just 45 minutes through the forest on the other side.