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A little background: The last snowfall in Chamonix was March 5 and our first day to ski was March 11. The high temperatures in town were in the mid 50’s F the entire week. You may have read criticism of the ski area layout at Chamonix. That’s really not a fair complaint but is only relative to some other European ski areas that connect over a hundred lifts in an area so large it’s impossible to ski across it in a day. It’s somewhat like criticizing Aspen, Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass for not being connected. All of the areas we skied are LARGE, much larger than Aspen or Buttermilk. Their sizes are not listed in acres because it’s impossible to know exactly where they start and end. Two generalities are that all these areas, if measured, would be several thousand acres each and each chair lift serves more area than a typical chairlift in the Rockies. Sometimes three or four times as much area. If the back bowls of Vail were in the chamonix valley I think they would probably serve it with three conventional chairs to keep the traffic lower.
Most of the skiing is above the tree line and almost of the terrain we saw was skiable. There are not big sections of what may look like in bounds trails on the map but it’s actually unusable because it’s cut up with gullies, ridges or boulders. Every chair we rode had at least one wide, well groomed trail leading you back to the bottom of the chair. There was not much grooming but it wasn't’t needed during the time we were there. The skiers are more spread out. The runs do not get as skied off or bumped up so they do not require the attention that they do in the Rockies. Bumps were almost always small to medium sized. We attributed that to the reduced traffic over any specific trail.
One last thing to remember is that these valleys in th Alps are much deeper than in the Rockies. In the rockies the average might be 7,000 valley with 12,000 peaks. The altitude in Chamonix is about 3,500 feet and the Aiguille du Midi cable car will take you from town right up to over 12,000 feet to start the Vallee Blanche run and Mont Blanc is several thousand feet above that! From anywhere in town you literally can look up and see towering peaks all around you. Most ski areas have a tram that moves you 2 or 3 thousand feet up the mountain to start your day at a base area around 6,000 feet. Sometimes you can ski back to the bottom and sometimes you download.
Lift lines and ticket lines are busy on the weekends and not very busy on week days. We had very few waits other than at the start and end of the day on the weekend. There are no staff assigned to organizing the ques but the pushing and shoving I've heard reported elsewhere was not evident in Chamonix. A USA lift that doesn't have an attendant organizing the crowd is just like the lift lines at Chamonix.