From Intermediate Level | Private Guiding
✦ Experienced UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guides
✦ Training day before the Vallée Blanche
✦ Amazing high-altitude skiing
✦ High safety priority
Vallée Blanche is the mythical off-piste descent in Chamonix starting from the highest lift, the Aiguille du Midi in 3842m. From here a truly amazing ski run takes you down the glaciated terrain all the way to the town. When the snow is abundant and the group is strong we can ski all the way to Chamonix, achieving a descent of almost 2800 height meters of difference and about 22km in distance. Vallée Blanche is the longest lift-accessed off-piste run in the Alps., but unpatrolled and without any markings. It is a route you should only do with a high mountain guide, who can safely navigate the glaciers and get a group down safely.
Our Vallée Blanche trips are always a 2 days course. We prefer not to do 1-day Vallée Blanche descents with groups we don’t know. It is required that everyone in the group is an experienced skier with a good fitness level.
When the weather is good and the conditions are easy most good skiers will not have a problem and will be able to fully enjoy the descent.
If the weather is mixed, the snow is difficult or other circumstances make it a hard day to ski the Vallée Blanche only the very best skiers will be able to go, and only if the visibility is good.
For safety reasons we prefer to have a test day to check if everyone in the group is good enough.
On the first day, the guide will test your abilities and make sure everyone can cope with the long ski down the Vallée Blanche. This first day is a great training day and we strive to do some good off-piste skiing. If you are concerned about your capabilities this is a great way to ensure that you aren’t taking too much on board.
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This course can only be booked by individuals or private groups.
Currently, we don’t offer courses where you can join a group.
You can contact us and request the 2-day Vallée Blanche course anytime during the winter. The earlier we schedule your booking, the better we can plan for reservations of lifts and guides.
If conditions or the weather are not good enough to go from the Aiguille du Midi, we might try and access the Vallée Blanche from the Italian side. This is also the best access for large groups. If the weather or glacier conditions are too dangerous for skiing from the Aiguille du Midi or the Sky Way lift station, we will emphasize finding the best snow in other areas of Chamonix.
*We limit group sizes to 4 clients per guide in December and early January. This is due to the rope on the steep ridge from the Aiguille du Midi not yet installed and the often more complicated glacier conditions. Every year is different, but as a ground rule, this is mostly the case.
Planning & logistics
Assignment of guides, planning, and information prior to the course, reservation of lifts.
UIAGM/IFMGA guides – 2 days of mountain guiding
The guides working with us are all holders of the highest recognized mountaineering certificate. They are equally a friendly and nice group of guides used to handling groups and climbs in the Alps.
Group equipment (ropes & safety gear)
The guides provide the group security gear (rope, glacier travel equipment).
You only need to make sure you have your personal equipment.
Any cost not mentioned in the “Included” section. The most important ones are:
Transport to Chamonix
Read more under practical info.
Accommodation in the valley
You will need the Chamonix Unlimited pass to access the Aiguille du Midi.
Personal ski gear
Check the gear section.
Lunches & drinks
On the first day, we can stop in a cafeteria/restaurant on the mountain. On the second day, getting a sandwich and water for the long descent is advisable.
You should make sure you are adequately insured. Check our page on insurance.
Other possible costs
If we need to go by the Italian SkyWay lift, we might need to take a bus/taxi through the Mont Blanc tunnel.
The longest off-piste run in the World?
As a pure lift-accessed run, the Vallée Blanche comes high on the list of “longest off-piste ski runs in the world”. With more than 2700 vertical meters (almost 9000 feet) going down through Europe’s most beautiful alpine range and on big glaciers, It is, without a doubt, a unique ski descent in a majestic environment that should be on every good skier’s “bucket list”.
Having 2 days will give us the best chance to ski the Vallée Blanche. The guide will do a “test day” and check if everyone in the group has the required ski level to do the Vallée Blanche.
Day 1 – Off-piste skiing in Chamonix
On our first day, we will rendezvous at one of the Chamonix ski areas. The guide will equip everyone with avalanche transceivers and ensure the group has several shovels/probes. We will do a day of off-piste skiing. The guide will check the group level to ensure everyone has a good enough ski level to do the Vallée Blanche. If the weather isn’t good enough the next day to ski the Vallée Blanche, the guide might go directly to the Vallée Blanche after an initial warm-up/check of the group on an off-piste run.
Day 2 – The Vallée Blanche
We meet at the base of the Aiguille du Midi lift. Everyone will wear the same avalanche transceiver from yesterday and borrow a harness from the guide, which is obligatory equipment for glacier skiing.
After a good view of the surrounding mountains from the balcony at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, the guide will attach a rope between team members as safety for the walk down the ridge to the start point of the Vallée Blanche ski.
From here, a wide choice of itineraries opens up, and the guide will choose a route that matches the group’s capabilities and wishes. No matter the way down, you can expect a great ski run in an amazing environment. The great glaciers and the steep and imposing mountains make the Vallée Blanche run unique. As we are high, the snow quality is often very good.
When we have an abundance of snow, we have almost 2700 meters of skiing to the Chamonix Valley floor.
We often take the train from Montenvers, 1900m, down to Chamonix. This is necessary if the group is tired or snow coverage isn’t good lower down.
Check the weather and dress accordingly. The list below should give you a general idea about what to bring. As private guiding days go on, we will establish a program with each group, and the equipment might be slightly different from group to group. Particularly if we decide to do some touring as well. We will let you know in advance.
Shell jacket – You need a lightweight, yet relatively sturdy shell jacket that is stowed away and doesn’t take to much space. If you can fit your ski helmet under the hood it’s great. Most jackets today have vents under the arms for ventilation.
Shell pants – They will be the best protection against the element. For pure off-piste skiing, you will be best off with a pair of bibs/salopettes that rise over the waistline to avoid snow coming in.
Base layers – Top and bottom thermal underwear. You can adjust these to be either a light or warm version. It all depends on the temperatures of the day.
Mid-layer – A mid-grade fleece sweater or jacket is great.
Extra warm layer – Light fiber and down jacket.
Warm hat – That covers the ears.
Neck gaiter – Something that can warm your neck and protect against wind and bad weather. A “buff” or other balaclavas are great.
2 Pairs of gloves – It’s always wise to have a spare pair of gloves in your backpack. They can get very wet and then cold if you take some tumbles. E.g. bring a pair of warm and less warm gloves.
Socks – Make sure to choose a pair of socks that will keep you warm, but not so that you are too tight in the boots.
25-40-liter backpack – Go with a simple backpack. You should have room for some extra clothing, water, a shovel, and a probe. You need to be able to attach the skis to the backpack.
You can wear a specific avalanche backpack if you wish, but it’s only obligatory for heli-skiing in the Alps. I can be an added safety!
Ski boots – You can use your normal ski boots, but beware that these might not work with some of the touring bindings you can rent. We recommend that you ultimately upgrade your ski boots or rent a pair of free-ride/touring-orientated models. These will have “walk-mode”, “Vibram-sole”, “Inserts” and a softer overall flex. These boots are today quite versatile and even good to ski pistes with. You can get help in most shops from an educated person, who can guide you in your choice.
Skis – For off-piste skiing, we use specific all-mountain / Off-piste skis. If we want to have the ability to go for shorter touring during the day we will need to bring touring gear.
Ski poles – Normal poles are ok. You will need to have a “wider” basket at the pole-tip, so the poles can be useful for pushing around in soft snow.
Ski helmet – We strongly recommend you wear a helmet. We understand that it’s a personal choice, but we can impose this as “obligatory” if conditions are delicate.
Ski strap – Used for various things, but mostly to keep your skis together in the morning and to attach the tips when carrying them on the backpack.
Harness* – If glacier skiing
* if you don’t have your own the guide will borrow you the items for the 5 days.
Water bottle – 1l water bottle. Water systems will freeze.
Snacks – A few snacks, nuts, and a small sandwich. We can also eat in a restaurant/cafeteria.
Suncream & sun-stick
Personal items – Money, passport, social security card, insurance card, etc.
Phone – Type in the emergency number and keep it warm/dry during the day.
Tour Grade: S1/A
Please read through the requirements for participating in this tour and follow the link to the “grading page.”
The Vallée Blanche descent presents about 20km of off-piste skiing. This is true when we can ski to Chamonix. When we finish at the Montenvers train station, the run is around 14km long, depending on the chosen variant.
The run is entirely on the glaciated ground from the top to a bit further down than where you go to the Montenvers train. There is no marker, and no section of the run is groomed.
The difficulty of the run has much to do with the actual snow conditions. If the descent has deep, fresh snow, you must be a good off-piste skier to cope with the long descent. The snow can be quite difficult at times, and you should be able to handle all snow conditions.
Other times, the run can seem quite easy by the normal route. If it hasn’t snowed for a while, cold temperatures keep the snow hard and firm, and the passage of skiers will have turned the upper part of the normal route into what almost resembles a piste. A steep mogul field will have appeared further down by the passage of the serac’s, and the narrow passage into the “Salle a manger” might be complicated with the opening of crevasses.
As the conditions can change overnight, we cannot guarantee whether the conditions are one or the other.
At a minimum, you need to be a good skier with no problems on red-black runs and have some prior off-piste experience.
On the first day, the guide will be able to judge your level and help anyone with small tips on correcting smaller errors. You shouldn’t expect to learn to ski off-piste on this single warm-up day. It is more of a test day!
You must be in good shape and have enough energy to ski off-piste.
We have breaks and will stop to enjoy the scenery and recover between the skiing pitches.
Off-piste skiing is more challenging than regular piste skiing, so expect to be in for a good challenge.
Everyone must be fresh in the morning. Neither off-piste skiing nor glacier skiing is possible if you are sick/hang-over, etc. If you are not in shape in the morning, you should not come. It’s simply too dangerous.
Getting to Chamonix or the course venue
For most of our clients, the easiest way to get to Chamonix or the Alps, in general, is by plane. The nearest airport is Geneva.
Read more about getting to Chamonix here – Click here.
Not everyone wants the same accommodation type, so we rarely include Valley accommodation. Check our suggested hotels, B&B, and campsites on this page – Click here.
If you want us to include hotel nights in the price, please let us know what standard you are looking for.
You must take out search & rescue, repatriation, and cancellation insurance. Read more about insurance here – Click here.
We believe our finest task is to give every client a unique mountain experience without taking unnecessary risks. The experience of the mountain guide, access to the most recent weather forecasts, and information sharing between guides are some of the important elements for making good and sound judgment calls. Suppose conditions or other situations render an attempt at a peak dangerous, avalanche conditions of a ski tour no longer possible, etc.. In that case, the guide will do his/her best to devise a good alternate plan. This might be a 100% change of the program. Emphasis is put on staying safe and having a great time!
In some of our courses, we stay in mountain huts. On hut-to-hut trips, they are part of the itinerary; at other times, we use them as the starting point for a climb or ski tour.
The mountain huts offer basic accommodation in bunk-style rooms. Blankets and duvets are in the huts, so you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag. It is obligatory to bring a sleeping bag liner.
We are served a simple breakfast and a 3-course dinner (soup, main meal, dessert).
We will let the guardian of the hut know if you are on a special diet (vegetarians, allergies, etc.). Vegans will need to bring supplementary food.
There are hut slippers available for use inside the hut.
It’s helpful to bring cash for personal expenses (water, soft drinks, beer, lunches, etc.)
There is mostly no tap water in the huts, and you must buy bottled water.
You will be able to charge your phone.
Some mountain huts have showers. You must mostly pay for this; only a few huts can provide towels.
Make a booking
Please read through all the course information. Please make sure that you have the required level to join the course.
Contact us if you have any questions.
Read more about the booking process here – Click here.
We will need all to join a course to complete our “Participation Form.”