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Chamonix Snow Conditions Christmas to New Year?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I'm looking to head out to Chamonix December 28 to January 4, anyone have any idea what the conditions are usually like around then? Is it worth it to make the trip there for that time of year? We definitely want to do Vallee Blanche when we go.

 

 We are from New York, so around that time winter is really just starting on the east coast. 

 

Any advice would be helpful.

post #2 of 10

my guess, it'll be at least decent to likely good.

http://www.igluski.com/france/chamonix-snow-history_1601

post #3 of 10

Christmas - New Year is early if you have your heart set on doing the Vallee Blanche. You might get a good day with a year with early snow all the way down to the valley floor but it is not likely.

 

But even if you do get a day where conditions allow the top part to be done it is likely that you would finish at Montenvers and would take the train down from there. Still a pretty impressive day out though.

 

Best time is late Feb / early March.

 

If you are expert off piste skiers and you want to get the most out of your time there consider hiring a guide. { Essential for the Vallee Blanche ]

 

Not the ideal place for timid intermediates although they can make the short trip to Megeve and enjoy some manicured slopes.

 

Chamonix has a very broken up ski area and you need to be prepared to ride the ski bus if you don't have a car. I always visited Chamonix when staying with friends who had transport and a non skiing driver so it was not an issue. The buses are colour coded to routes and can be daunting for first time riders. The buses are free if you have a ski pass.

 

I have skied the Vallee Blanche twice both times on sunny no wind late season days. It is worth the hassle.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response. We are both advanced skiers so in terms of difficulty Vallee Blanche shouldn't be a problem. Would you recommend a good guide company?

 

I saw a guide group that is 90 euros per person with a group of 6 in total, http://www.evolution2-chamonix.com/ski-school/vallee-blanche

 

Would you recommend this? We are 2 advanced skiers and don't want to get stuck with a group that is slower, is there a different guide company that you would suggest? 

 

How long does it take to do Valle Blanche? We are looking to have a fantastic day but don't want to spend too much money...

 

Thank you

post #5 of 10

We did it twice in one day.  The first run we skied all the way to town and the second run we took the gondola up to the train and the train down to town.  We finished around 5 or 5:30.  We went with a group from the ski club of Great Britian and everyone in the group was at least an advanced intermediate.  Good thing too because conditions were really tough.  If I do it again I will probably take my time and only do one run.  We ate lunch while waiting in line for our second ride up.  I would rather ski it once and take my time, stopping on the glacier for a relaxed lunch.

 

We rented a studio apartment right on the edge of the pedestrian area of town.  The bus system was convenient and easy but can be very crowded.

 

Great town and incredible mountains.  I hope to return.   

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ah so it sounds like it could be 2 full runs in one day, that would be great as we would rather keep on skiing than taking breaks. Thanks for the advice!

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Chamonix has a very broken up ski area and you need to be prepared to ride the ski bus if you don't have a car.

This also makes it crowd sensitive, and the Alps are no different than here in terms of Christmas-to-New-Years being the worst time for crowds and probably prices.  You should strongly consider going later when there will be more snow coverage and fewer people.  While Grand Montets' snow record is supposed to be good, Chamonix has lots of steep terrain that might not be skiable on a normal December base but will be later on.

post #8 of 10

Christmas to New Year's is a bit early for Cham (just like it's a bit early for the Rockies). Could be great or could be crappy. Guaranteed to be very crowded.   As folks above have noted, Feb to March offers much better skiing, but best to avoid the French school holidays.

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicskigirl View Post
 

Thanks for the response. We are both advanced skiers so in terms of difficulty Vallee Blanche shouldn't be a problem. Would you recommend a good guide company?

 

I saw a guide group that is 90 euros per person with a group of 6 in total, http://www.evolution2-chamonix.com/ski-school/vallee-blanche

 

Would you recommend this? We are 2 advanced skiers and don't want to get stuck with a group that is slower, is there a different guide company that you would suggest? 

 

How long does it take to do Valle Blanche? We are looking to have a fantastic day but don't want to spend too much money...

 

Thank you

The Compagnie des Guides also books groups for a similar price. You can book the Vallee Blanche, where the groups aren't sorted by ability. Once the group was good and we skied the Petit Envers, the other time the group was weak and we skied the normal route. You can also book the Mont Blanc Ski Discovery Program, for the same price, which skis various areas around Chamonix--the glacier routes on the Grands Montets, the highest off piste routes at Courmayeur (requires a guide just to ride the lift), and sometimes the VB--often by a harder route.  This program does sort groups by ability so your chances of being with a group that is much slower or faster than you is less (although I've been in both). You can check with the guide bureau the evening before--after 6 I think--to find out the itinerary for the next day. I haven't been there at the busiest times and had no trouble booking both VB and the Ski Discovery the night before, except one Friday we booked in advance and which was sold out by the time we did it--everyone seems to want to do the VB on the last day of their trip, which is usually Friday. My advice--do it the first clear day of your trip, you never know if you'll get good weather by the time you get around to it. I don't know how bad the weather has to be to cancel the VB but you definitely want a good visibility day--the scenery is at least half the point. Some people give money tips. Ive been told that buying the guide lunch is cool. Especially if you are an advanced or better skier and like off piste skiing do as much guided skiing as you can afford--off piste is kind of the whole point of Chamonix.

post #10 of 10

We ski at a lower resort about 30 minutes back down the valley. Although we're at a much lower level (1100 - 2400m) Christmas is usually pretty good.  The season starts a week before Christmas and over the last 10 years we've only had one bad year when the snow came early November and then all got washed away by a prolonged rainy spell.

 

Here's a very reliable weather forecast site...

http://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/forecast/morning/5_days_weather_forecast.php

 

The week before you were planning to go is usually my favourite week of the season... ok weather, ok snow and deserted pistes.  Normally, you should expect the Frenchies to turn up in big numbers on the 27th (the motorways will be a mess) having spent Christmas at home. Last year it didn't happen to the normal extent (at least in our resort) and given the economy is doing no better this year that may well be the case again. 

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