Arrival day – welcome meeting and briefing
The week begins with an evening briefing in our office in Chamonix. The guide will explain the week’s program and answer your questions.
Day 1 Le Tour / Balme
There is a lot to cover on the first day, and the forests, couloirs and open basins in Le Tour are an ideal starting point.
The varied terrain allows the guide to check everyone’s general abilities (no stress!), while riding some of the better lower altitude backcountry in the valley. After a few runs in the forests and couloirs on the Swiss side, the guide will set up a companion rescue exercise, and you can (re)familiarise yourself with your beacon, shovel, probe and the methods inherent to their proper use.
Day 2 Brévent / La Flégère
The Brévent and la Flégère are the two south facing resorts in Chamonix, linked by a cable car or a long traverse- and when the riding here is good, we can get a full appreciation for “steep and deep” and “fun and sun.” The amazing panorama is a bonus.
In the right conditions the lower, forested couloirs of the Brevent offer the best riding in Chamonix, with tight turns and tree skiing- a bit of forest slalom technique is a must!
The day presents many opportunities for the guide to give hints and tips to improve your riding, and also present a first look at snow transformation on southern, sunny aspects.
Possible descents: Pentes de l’Hotel, la Glière basin, la Floria basin, and- if conditions are great, the «poste a Payot», or the «golf couloir».
Day 3 Grands Montets
The celebrated riding in the Grands Montets- Chamonix’s freeride temple… Many classic runs start from here- the Lognan couloirs, Lavancher bowl, Chapeau couloir, Poubelles (Garbage) couloir, the epic Pas de chèvre, and Rectiligne couloir, among others.
From the summit of the Grands Montets cable car, at 3300m, vast, glaciated slopes fall away- requiring specific equipment and presenting the potential hazards associated with glacier travel.
You’ll ride with a harness, and in certain situations your guide may use the rope and ice screws and/or an ice axe to secure delicate sections. The Rognon glacier is ideal for teaching the basics of informed glacier travel.
Day 4 Aiguille du Midi
A week in Chamonix without a descent of the mythic Vallée Blanche, leaving from the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m, is a must if the conditions permit. The longest lift accessed, glaciated backcountry run in Europe is waiting!
Given the physical and technical requirements of the course we’ll probably choose one of the steeper variants to the regular Vallée Blanche. The Grand, Moyenne, or Petit Envers with exits to the Mer de Glace in the Requin couloirs, for example.
With a little luck and excellent conditions we could try a « Super Combo »- Pas de Chèvre from the Grands Montets followed with a descent of the Grand Envers ….
You can count on having tired legs, because riding in this majestic setting warrants an all day effort, and your guide will make sure you take full advantage.
Day 5 Dolce vita! Courmayeur, Italy
A day to apply everything learned in the previous week and to evaluate the progress you’ve made.
For the last day of the trip- a visit to the Italian side of the Mt. Blanc. No trip to the Mt. Blanc range is complete without a visit to our neighbours in the Val D’Aoste.
The Courmayeur resort sits just on the other side of the Mt. Blanc tunnel, a half hour drive.
With tons of shady, north facing riding the Val Veny in Courmayeur houses superb couloirs, steep glades, and wide open bowls easily accessed from the groomed runs.
Across the valley, in the sun, the Toula glacier can be ridden from the new, fast and modern Skyway cable car, reaching 3500m at the summit of the Punta Helbronner. Exceptional views from the top allow a unique perspective on the Valley Blanche, prior to riding the Italian side.
Have an espresso! Possible options include runs on the Toula glacier and it’s variants, many of them very steep - the Cesse or Passerelle couloir, a long, steep trip down the Val Ferret via the Marbrées couloir, or an exposed, unforgettable run « under the cables »- from top to bottom more than 2000m of descent is waiting. You’ve earned your authentic Italian pizza!