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Vallee Blanche Difficulty?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Evening All,

Would I be right in thinking that with the slow start to the season snow-wise, the VB is still a long way from being skiable (with a guide, obviously)?

We're nearby next week and were hoping to spend a day in Chamonix to do this trip. I was going to ring around a few guides to see if anyone could fit us in, but I assume I'd be wasting my time even doing that...?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
From the "chamonarde".
"The Valley Blanche, though possible, remains complicated and only suitable for very good skiers/alpinists with glacier travel skills."

That probably means no.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
For info, the rope isn't in yet, so be prepared for a very exposed descent of the Arête.
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Thanks for the replies.

Yes, I was starting to think even if open that it was best left for another time and hopefully better conditions.

Cheers.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Markymark29 wrote:
30-40cm more like!! 10m??


The arete was around 40-50 cm wide when I went down it. I wasn't skiing though, was roped up to my guide and had crampons on as we were climbing Mont Blanc via the Cosmiques Route (much better than the Goutier Route).

That was at the end of summer in September though. It certainly is an introduction to the mountain from the safety of the cable car station as there is a lot of exposure. If you aren't good with heights forget it.
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Per the local bulletin, it hasn't got any better but worse since @jbob's comment.
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snowymum wrote:
Our group skied it from the Italian (Courmayeur) side down to Chamonix which is a good way of avoiding the rope part at the very top. I don't remember that so we must have started lower down. From where we started it was a few turns in deep snow, a little side slipping down a very narrow section with crevasses on either side and then a long ski to the bottom. (we could not ski to the very bottom so took the train for the last bit). This is going back quite a few years so I hope my memories are accurate. We had blue skies and sunshine and it is the most memorable day I've ever had skiing. The scenery is amazing.

I think if you are happy on red runs you would be fine. It is probably more important to be generally fit to have the stamina to do a long day skiing without many stops. The only thing I was worried about was lasting all that time without needing the loo Laughing


That's what we did, it was absolutely spectacular. We had to hang off a walkway and drop down, we didn't walk down the arete.

The only daunting bit was having to straightline the very last section over the top of an ice cave with a sheer drop to the right Shocked

The climb up to the train was absolutely knackering, we all had large beers when we got into Chamonix!! It was an amazing day, and even blue run skiers managed it.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Word from the piste patrol guys yesterday is that they are now equipping the arête and it should be ready sometime next week.
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So the odds of being able to do the valley Blanche in mid January are dodgy? balls we have four days in January and I was intending to do it.
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@biddpyat, life is too short for me to read through the thread for what others have said.

It just depends on the season. In 2016 our first VB run was about 24th January. I can't be bothered with the arête before the ropes are in place, and their absence is a good indication that the route is far from straightforward (in relative terms). So by late/ish January 2016, things were pretty good. A foot of fresh snow down the right of the Gross Rognon if I remember correctly, and well covered.

Last season the first VB descent by me or any of my chums was 3rd March, and I still inadvertently dangled a leg in 2 separate crevasses.

So no way to say before winter gets going. However, based on 3 seasons experience, I think the odds of a relaxed descent in mid January are on the slim side.
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Thanks Hammond, I will take that into consideration, it is better to not have it on the plans and get a nice surprise if it is open than be looking forward to it, and not be able to do it. I will go back again at a later time and do it then.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@biddpyat, I think there are more fun things to do...
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@under a new name, Agreed. I think I had most fun at Le Tour, St Gervais and Les Contamines after snow last season. I wish I knew what's what at Combloux.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I did it 10 March 2003 (etched into my memory because it was the day Barry Sheene died and we heard the sad news on the Aguille cable car), snow coverage was ideal and the run epic. I found it pretty tough from a stamina point of view, wasn't particularly well prepared and should have taken more water - am much fitter now and a better skier so would be better equipped nowadays. 2 people were lost that day and it was really unnerving to see people standing about shouting looking for their group who had clearly disappeared down a crevasse (they weren't with a guide). I'm in no great rush to do it again tbph, much better stuff to be had at Le Tour and GM/ Argentiere but its got to be done I suggest......but only with an experienced guide is my advice, and when they say stay in my tracks, they mean IN my tracks, not 10cm either side! Cool
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I know there is lots to be done alright, but now at least I won't have that in my head , we only have four days in January, so I am trying to find the best things to do in those four days, I haven't skied chamonix before so the vallee blanche looked like it one to tick off the bucket list. I will not be short on skiing anyway.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have done it twice both times in good conditions. Hated the trudge at the bottom so took the train down the second time.

A skier who is confident on blues and can manage reds will enjoy it.

Anybody who gets freaked out by cliffs and exposure will hate it.

Fantastic photo ops on a sunny day.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
There's a series of documentaries shadowing the very highly skilled and experienced Chamonix mou gain rescue team. Pulling people of of crevices seems a very common occurrence.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Markymark29 wrote:
I did it 10 March 2003 (etched into my memory because it was the day Barry Sheene died and we heard the sad news on the Aguille cable car), snow coverage was ideal and the run epic. I found it pretty tough from a stamina point of view, wasn't particularly well prepared and should have taken more water - am much fitter now and a better skier so would be better equipped nowadays. 2 people were lost that day and it was really unnerving to see people standing about shouting looking for their group who had clearly disappeared down a crevasse (they weren't with a guide). I'm in no great rush to do it again tbph, much better stuff to be had at Le Tour and GM/ Argentiere but its got to be done I suggest......but only with an experienced guide is my advice, and when they say stay in my tracks, they mean IN my tracks, not 10cm either side! Cool


OMG, is Barry Sheene dead, they kept that one quiet! Shocked
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@biddpyat, Best to do it on a nice long sunny day later in the season. If you are there for just 4 days you'll get more skiing done elsewhere. Despite global warming the VB isn't going anywhere for a while. (Note to pedants our there, yes it's a glacier so yes it's actually going downhill all the time.....)
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks Ski, I will have to ensure I book a weekend later in the season, after all now I have decided to do it, I had better just get it out of the system
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Interesting read, All i care to say on this matter is please please never even think about doing it without a guide, I live in Chamonix and will confidently ski anything thats in my path, however i am not a guide and im not stupid. it still amazes me that people go and ski VB without a guild and even on their own. However done properly, Its likely to be the best day of your life, Simple as that. Stay safe!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Nine9Three, au contraire, doing it with someone whomismnot a guide, but with appropriate experience, kit and glacier rescue knowledge/practice, is IMHO entirely reasonable.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The only bad parts are the arete, and the walk back up to Montenvers from the shrinking glacier. The classic route is incredibly easy to ski, pretty much a piste and a long pole out.
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It's super simple as long as the snow exists Smile Pretty straightforward.
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@Dunny#1, yes, but those enormous Black Crows virtually do it all for you, except for the walk up the steps at the end.

For VB first timers; I may have yabbered on about this elsewhere, but I generally find the whole experience more pleasurable from Helbronner. To make journeying over there worthwhile, you can always ski the Toula glacier first down to the halfway lift station, back up on the lift to Helbronner, then down to Chamonix via the Vierge or a bit steeper further over down the Valley Noir.

There are a fraction of the crowds and clamour, and usually better snow. Anyone thinking of forking out for a guide, they can safeguard you on the start of the Toula which can feel a little exposed at the start if you are not used to that sort of thing. These routes, though not outrageously difficult, are not very long blue runs.
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HammondR wrote:
@Dunny#1, yes, but those enormous Black Crows virtually do it all for you, except for the walk up the steps at the end.

For VB first timers; I may have yabbered on about this elsewhere, but I generally find the whole experience more pleasurable from Helbronner. To make journeying over there worthwhile, you can always ski the Toula glacier first down to the halfway lift station, back up on the lift to Helbronner, then down to Chamonix via the Vierge or a bit steeper further over down the Valley Noir.

There are a fraction of the crowds and clamour, and usually better snow. Anyone thinking of forking out for a guide, they can safeguard you on the start of the Toula which can feel a little exposed at the start if you are not used to that sort of thing. These routes, though not outrageously difficult, are not very long blue runs.

Hahahaha, they also help when you're aiming for Girls in the Apres bar, hence the reason that I've just become the owner of some even bigger ones snowHead Hope to see you around this season for some laps! Back in town?

Great call on going up from the Italian side too, I'll second this. Plus, the lift is way cool-ier.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Not sure if it's a mountain myth but remember the story of the jeans wearing Russian who set off alone and was never seen again. The lifties tried to talk him out of it but he was insistent.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
but seriously...

on the topic of needing a guide, while the well "trodden" path looks and is mostly a bit of an easy blue, there are big holes lurking nearby...
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