Vallee Blanche snowshoeing 2017
Two day glacier snowshoe trek, with a night in a mountain hut
Descending the Midi Arête onto the top of the Vallée Blanche
Course overview
For those looking for a great weekend adventure, you can't get much more visual overload than two days of glacier snow-shoeing down the 23km of the Vallee Blanche glacier, down from the Aiguille du Midi to Montenvers, or even all the way into Chamonix.
A two day course that can either be done in its own right as a weekend, or before a course to enhance acclimatisation. On Saturday and Sunday you have two exciting days of action packed snowshoeing. A guide is essential to look after your safety and to pick a challenging route across crevasse snow bridges.

Half way down the route, you stay the night in the Requin (Shark) mountain hut, so called as it is situated on a fin shape of rock on the edge of the glacier. It is a great way of experiencing the high mountains as the route starts from the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m, and you sleep at altitude too.

There are many variations on the Vallee Blanche, so the Guide can always choose a suitable route for your fitness, experience level and the conditions. From February it is often possible to snowshoe all the way back to Chamonix, otherwise you catch the Montenvers train.

The course meeting is at 08:00am on the Saturday morning, to get the first possible cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi. On the Sunday you aim to return to Chamonix by 16:00pm, so there is time for getting am airport transfer from 17:00 for a flight after 20:00, so you can be back at work for Monday morning.
A key feature of this course, is spending a night in a high mountain hut for the night. For those who haven't stayed in a hut before, banish all thoughts of cold sheds, and get thinking of duvets on beds and good three course evening meals and a fully stocked bar with a wine list. Not so bad eh?
You are led by a very experienced and qualified guide, who will instruct you in the use of snowshoes, and is there to guide you and look after your safety in terms of the weather and avalanche awareness.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Alpine Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.
The photos on this page really give you an idea of how incredible it is to snowshoe down the Vallee Blanche. The views are unparallelled, and you can take your time to really enjoy it, as the guide is there to keep you safe. All of the time on the glacier, you snowshoe roped up, to protect you when passing over snow bridges over crevasses. If you are interested, the guide can show you the ropework for crevasse rescue technique, when you arrive at the Requin hut. Rest assured you are in safe hands, led by a guide who will have guided the Vallee Blanche several hundreds of times. Whilst most people you see in other groups will be on skis, to descend on snowshoes is a really unique experience, where you have the time to really appreciate where you are.

Brief Course Itinerary
 
Sat Arrive for a 8am check-in and course / itinerary briefings. There is time for kit checks or fitting. You meet with your IFMGA Mountain Guide, and after sorting out your safety equipment and fitting your harnesses and avalanche tranceivers (included in the price if you don't have your own), you go to the Aiguille du Midi cable car. This ascends from the valley to over 3800m in about twenty minutes, so when you arrive at the top, you will notice much thinner the air is at this high altitude. The cable car station provides stunning views of Mont Blanc and the high mountains. The start of the Vallee Blanche run is accessed by a short snow ridge, fixed with rope handrails and steps, to reach a flat area where you put on your snowshoes. Often the Guide will decide it is safer for the group to be equipped with crampons for this descent, which we will provide if required. The Guide will always clip you on to a rope to ensure your safety. There are many variations of routes down the Vallee Blanche, so the Guide can pick the most exciting one that best suits your group and the conditions. All of the routes converge at the Requin mountain refuge, where you are about half way down the route. Here you will usually stay for the night, and once you've checked in, you have time to get some amazing photos of crevasses and the high mountains. Before the evening meal some groups head outside to take some more photos, and perhaps to learn how to use the avalanche safety transceivers. Then it's time for dinner, which is usually three courses of superb food. Afterwards you can have a drink from the bar, then it is time for bed in those comfy duvets!
Sun In the early morning you emerge for breakfast, and coffee, to coax you out of bed. Then in the first light of the crisp Alpine morning, you put on your snowshoes, and crunch you way over the well frozen snow. The normal route from the Requin is to descend over the snow bridges through the Salle a Manger icefall, and the Guide will navigate you safely through the icy towers of seracs and past the huge exposed holes of the crevasses. This section of the route is impressive, and also the most technically demanding. You need to have good snowshoe control, with experience of some steeper terrain and varying snow conditions from icy crusts to soft powder. Soon you reach the easier, flatter surface of the Mer de Glace glacier. From here it is a fairly snowshoe trek run down towards the Montenvers mountain railway station, from where you can catch the mountain railway to Chamonix. It is normal to finish the trek at the Montenvers train station, but in exceptionally good snow conditions you may be able to descend all the way through the trees down to Chamonix. Normally you finish your day in mid afternoon in time for a congratulatory beer and some aprés! Great places to head to for a cheeky post VB pint are Chambre9, Moo Bar, Elevation, or MBC (Micro Brasserie de Chamonix). Enjoy!!! We always aim to be back by 16:00, so for those flying out in the evening, airport transfers can be booked for any time after 17:00. For those using this snowshoe weekend as acclimatisation for a week long course, you will be back in Chamonix in time for your check-in and course briefings for the main course which are scheduled for 17:00.
ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionaly we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt. If for whatever reason the Vallee Blanche is not possible (eg too windy / closed cable car / avalanche risk too high etc.) you have an alternative two day snowshoeing trek (ideally still on glaciers) with a night in an alternative hut. Locations for this could include Grands Montets and the Argentiere glacier, or another area in the Mont Blanc massif. By completing a booking form you accept this very rare potential change to the itinerary, for safety reasons..

Course Prices
Standard course
2 full days IFMGA guiding, 1:6 max ratio
2 days holiday in total, Sunday-Saturday
£449
Live availability
Click on the planner logo to the right to
see the real time live course availability
Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Standard Course Inclusions: 1) IFMGA Mountain Guide for two days, 2) Chamonix course hosts for logistics & briefings, 3) Pre course information booklet, 4) Equipment discount voucher for UK shops, 5) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet, 6) Logistics support and full time in-resort hosts, 7) Loan of technical equipment* (see notes below), 8) One night half board stay in a mountain hut for you and your guide, 9) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet, 9) Icicle discounts privilege QR code list for reductions in local shops and restaurants in Chamonix.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Chamonix, 2) Extra equipment hire other than that which is included* in the course price as required, 3) Cable cars & uplift (c. 60 euros), 4) Personal laundry, telephone calls, lunches, evening meals in valley, & any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / restaurants, 5) Activities insurance, & excess baggage charges.
Notes: Group sizes 2 to 6 clients, with 1 leader. The loan of all technical equipment for each client is included* in the course price as required: harness, crampons, snowshoes, avalanche tranceiver, avalanche probe and shovel. In rare exceptional circumstances, if avalanche risks or highly adverse weather make the itinerary unsafe, or if there is just one person booked on a trip, the guide will discuss suitable alternatives with you, for example another choice of hut in a different region, or even two separate snowshoe treks and alternative accommodation. Extra dates available on any days for 2 or more people booking together.
Upgrade options
Avalanche Skills Day
£75 (throughout the season)
To learn avalanche prediction, reutschblocks and use of avalanche tranceivers. Course is available on any day during the week (includes ARVA), details.
Current course availability

Course Dates
V'Blanche Snowshoe
  • No Dates Available
NOTE: This trip has scheduled
dates, but if there are 3 or more
people booking together, it can be
operated on any date you wish
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Price: £449 Book online

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Location data for this trip
The trips all start in Chamonix valley in the French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is easily accessed via a 90 minute transfer from Geneva airport.
Time Difference
GMT +1hr
Local Currency
€ Euros
Travel from UK
1hr flight
Free resources


FREE Podcast
Starting snowshoeing
This podcast lifts the lid on the fastest growing winter sport of snowshoeing, what equipment is required, what to wear, and what avalanche safety kit to use...
Download podcast (2.75 MB)
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Equipment advice
Our snowshoeing advice page (click here) outlines the key equipment you should bring. Snowshoes are loaned FREE of charge anyway, as are avalanche safety beacons, so all you need to arrive with are walking clothes, waterproofs, a small rucksack and well worn in walking boots (not trekking shoes).
Photography upgrade
Some clients choose to book on this trip and upgrade for a professional outdoor photographer to accompany them, in addition to the IFMGA guide leading the group. The photographer costs £200 per day, including their stay in the mountain hut, so is £400 extra for these two days. This upgrade is split by those booking the photgraphy upgrade. Key topics that are covered include;
Packing camera kit for use in the mountains, and winterising it.
Planning for mountain weather, and the photographic opportunities.
Evening presentation in mountain hut about mountain photography.
Lighting issues for mountain and outdoor photography.
Night photography techniques in the dark outside the mountain hut.
Daybreak shoot to catch the first rays of sunlight in the mountains.
Nature / humans photography in the mountains, and techniques.
Photo editing, digital photo storage, and your shot analysis.
Selecting equipment, and how to travel light in the mountains.
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
So why choose us?
We are true specialists in snowshoeing. See our blog, by clicking on the logo (on the right).
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather and conditions each day, so that you maximise the amount of time spent skiiing each day.
Our prices are fixed in £ pounds sterling, to protect you from euro currency fluctuations, so that you can budget accurately.
We have a team of over 30 IFMGA guides, and a resort support team, who all want you to have the best snowshoeing possible! For more details on the guiding team and qualifications, please click here.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.
 


 
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