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Recommendations for a week long Chamonix guided trip/camp?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

For my 30th birthday this winter I'd like to do a trip to Chamonix. I want to do some kind of camp or work with a guide or something, since I'll likely be traveling alone, and I really know nothing about planning a trip out there in general. I want to do a lot of great skiing and I don't want to waste any time figuring things out. :)


Other useful things to know:

- I don't have any non-guided backcountry experience

- I don't have any experience with A/T gear

- I am a pretty solid alpine skier (can pretty much ski anything in-bounds, but steep bumps and anything over 40 degrees or so gets a little ugly)


Something like this looks awesome, because it combines great skiing with touring instruction, which I would love:



I'd also love to do something like the Haute Route, but I'm afraid it'd be a bit much touring for someone who's never done any touring before.


I've also looked at the obvious ones, e.g.




So does anyone have suggestions for camps or guides to look at? I would love any and all suggestions for pulling off this kind of trip. Thanks! :D

post #2 of 17



How much money ya got??





[HMMM, just noticed the rest of my post didn't go through ... what I said was, I have not been on this trip, and probably wouldn't even if I could afford it. But it's the only one I have any personal knowledge of, since it's the brainchild of an friend of ours (who has been trying to get us to do it), and I'm sure it's an amazing experience.  I want to do the Haute Route one day, but not with helis, I don't think. ;-) ]

Edited by segbrown - 9/13/10 at 2:31pm
post #3 of 17

I could totally see the two of you doing that trip together^^^^

post #4 of 17


Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

I could totally see the two of you doing that trip together^^^^

EpicSki fundraiser???

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Man, all the trips on that site sound amazing. Maybe one day when I'm loaded I'll  work my way through all of them. ;)

post #6 of 17
Originally Posted by rachelv View Post

Man, all the trips on that site sound amazing. Maybe one day when I'm loaded I'll  work my way through all of them. <img src=

I wonder what that would cost ... if I weren't lazy, I'd add it all up. It would be cheaper if they didn't use helis for every single thing, though, lol. Last year they were putting together a cruise/ski to Antarctica, which was actually a bit cheaper, if I remember right. I don't see it on the website, I think it was a trial run. (We are just guinea pigs here, but still have to pay, of course.) Don't know if they did it or not, come to think of it.

post #7 of 17

You might want to send Gordy a pm over at TGR.



post #8 of 17

You should consider Ski Fun Tours. This is a multi-day program run out of the ESF. They visit  different stations in the valley throughout the week depending on the snow and weather, often including Verbier and Courmayeur. Very economical. You will be put in a group with those of similar ability and experience. You are picked up and dropped off at your hotel daily and have lift line priority everywhere in Cham. it's a great way to introduce yourself to off-piste at its best.

post #9 of 17

Rachel, I'm not knowledgable about this stuff but I did like the looks of More Adventure, which I posted about here.


The owner followed a link from here and joined EpicSki.  Perhaps you could contact him for some information.


post #10 of 17

I don't know about you but I've always found AT/Mountaineering clinics give you less bang for the buck than simply going on a guided trip at the right level of difficulty. Also in terms of bang for the buck it is hard to beat the Compagnie des Guides in Chamonix. Their rates are the least expensive I've been able to find. Here's the link to touring offerings from last season. This season will likely be identical, with one or two changes perhaps. http://www.chamonix-guides.com/pages_stat_en/raids-ski_uk.html You could start with the level one trips and work your way up.


Alternatively you could take one of their courses. http://www.chamonix-guides.com/produits_18_1_en.html


There are a couple of American guides (Kathy Cosley and Mark Houston) who I can recommend who live and guide in the Chamonix area (they live in Les Houches). They offer fine looking off piste day trips. If only to see what's available it's worth checking out their web site. http://www.cosleyhouston.com/alps-ski-programs.htm


Many hours of time wasting available here. Beautiful pictures and trip descriptions. See esp. the day to day detail for the multi-day trips. And the recent trips page is full of hundreds of exquisite photographs.


The Haute Route (Verbier option) doesn't really require any AT experience. The main thing is fitness (at altitude) and skiing ability. I've been on the Haute Route with competent skiers who'd never seen a ski crampon before or tied into a harness. They did fine, in fact better than fine. I couldn't keep up with them.


If you don't mind French dialogue check out this multi-episode documentary of the Haute Route. These skiers take the more serious Plateau de Couloir route but still manage (except for one who struggled quite a bit). The documentary gives you a good idea of the terrain, though I should stress the Verbier option is much less technical. http://www.hauteroutetsr.ch/

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, great suggestions so far! I'm going to check everything out a little more this weekend and hopefully get an idea of what I want to book.


Tecumseh, you were right about the time-wasting potential of http://www.cosleyhouston.com/alps-ski-programs.htm . Did you see this picture? Oh my god.


post #12 of 17

Lots of good advice here.  From a value standpoint Ski Fun Tours (in spite of the lame name) works out to be a good deal.  They use local Chamonix Guides and you get to ski a lot of off piste.  Plus they provide transportation to and from your hotel and get you a good table at lunch.  I'd also recommend the Compagnie des Guides if you want to do some touring.  There are an infinite number of touring options in and around the Chamonix valley.  The Haute Route is the most famous, but doesn't offer the best downhill runs.  Decide what your priorities are and the guides will accommodate as best they can given the current snow and weather conditions.  On that note, if you get more than 3.5 good snow and weather days in a week, consider it a big success.  Anything more is a bonus, anything less is just the breaks of mountain weather.

post #13 of 17

Dear Rachel


(a) Ski Club of Great Britain run nice off piste holidays (pricey) see there website for details.


(b) the ESF trips are well run and good value (Ski Fun Tours).


(c) sounds like your ready for the Haute Route already - depending on version and timing it can be done relatively easily (or hard if you alter the parameters) I agree with Tecumseh.


(d) it's easy to run down the ridge in your photograph past the skiers going slowly if you alter your crampons to temporarily fit over your downhill ski boots, doing this will however freak your guide out the first time he sees you pull them out and fiddle them on. But hay anything is fair game to get first tracks in fresh powder.

post #14 of 17

The best advice above is to skip the clinics/classes (they tend to be expensive and involve alot of standing around waiting for others)...get a guide and have them pick stuff that is the right level to challenge you.


I skied in Chamonix about 10 days last winter and spring, and 6 or so were with the same guide.  He did an awesome job of teaching me some serious mountaineering, and pushing my comfort zone, but always kept it safe and fun.  If you want his contact info, let me know.


Don't settle for the cookie cutter course....

post #15 of 17

Yes, anytime you have a group, things tend to slooooow down. With a guide, your ski days can be much more flexible and the guide can take you to the areas with the best conditions. If you are looking to meet people and aren't as concerned about getting the most vert, then groups can be fun as you will meet people from around the world (or at least Europe).

post #16 of 17

Stay 29. Or ask the Ski Club of Gt Britain about their guides and the joining fee (peanuts iirc).

post #17 of 17

I've used Mountain Tracks before. www.mountaintracks.co.uk


In my experience they've always had great IFMGA guides - I learnt so much. You can start out with a skills course as I did or go straight to an 'adventure' course dfepending on what you're after. Personally, I like the fact that I can go elsewhere as well in Europe with the same guide.


You'll get the most out of your trip if you go with a company of mountain guides as they can take you onto galciated terrain which ski guides can't and personally I learnt loads too about mountain safety. At your level I think you;d get much more out of the trip as much of Chamonix is glaciated.



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