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Chamonix & Vallée Blanche in mid-April

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Does Chamonix get any quieter in mid-April (second week)? Thinking about a couple of days there, and doing the Vallee Blanche if the weather is nice.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
It does, yes. To be accurate, it gets quieter after Easter.
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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?
April is the best time 😉
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Excellent, have you guys done the VB around then? I was thinking the 9th or 10th

Just looked up school holidays and found 16th April for Easter holiday end date - is that right?? Seems very late
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@moseyp,
The previous 3 seasons the latest I have skied the Vallee Blanche has been around the 1st May each season. This has fortunately always been in shin deep powder making fresh tracks from Helbronner. That is just the way it happened.

So, in a better snow year the 10th April should be fine in terms of snow cover. As for the snow conditions, a lot will happen between now and then.

Good luck.
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thanks @HammondR, I'm not too concerned about snow cover more crowds - I thought that with the school holidays finishing at the weekend (9th) the whole resort and the VB might be quieter than normal but then I looked up UK school holidays and it appears they go on for another week, up to 16th?

Can I ask as well - is one of the four routes considered the best? I'm not really interested in the skiing terrain (as in I'm happy to ski flatter, more boring terrain for better scenery). Is one more picturesque than the others?

Thanks!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
It’s not busy in April. The later the quieter. All routes are scenic. The main route typically busier and more tracked. The others steeper and need stronger mountain skills if you don’t take a guide. VB should be good into June this year!
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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!
@BobinCH, thanks - def taking a guide. Maybe the Petit Envers du Plan or Gros Rognon - do you know if one would be better for a snowboard?
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@moseyp, none good with Snowboard due to walk out on glaciated terrain. Grand Envers my fave (and shortens walk out) although haven’t been for a couple of seasons. Vallée Noir from Hellbronner also good and means you can get a couple of laps on the Italian side first for a longer ski day - there are some nice couloirs there if you are solid on steep terrain
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
@BobinCH, oh really? will have a snowboarder with me. is it unfeasible?
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Seems ok with telescopic poles on Grand Envers route. Bestvto discyss with your guide
http://www.chamonixskiguide.com/snowboard_vallee_blanche_off_piste
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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.
We had 2 snowboarders in our group who "worked up a sweat" Toofy Grin on the lengthy flattish section at the end of the VB, across the Mer de Glace. Our guide asked a couple of us (skiers) to hand over our poles to them, which they managed ok with, while we skated a bit.

The guides office, where you book, will be able to to advise your group further.
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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
Sorry to thread mine but this question is generally related. I’m from Australia. Due to Covid I’m guessing (hoping) my next opportunity to ski in the northern hemisphere may be Easter school holidays 2021.
We’re a family of adventurous (advanced??) intermediates. We have experience skiing non-groomed terrain - mainly in Canada and USA. Would the Vallee Blanche be suitable for us? We don’t have avalanche gear. Can that be hired? Is there a resort in Chamonix that is decent (elevation and northish facing) in April? I believe Grand Montets is out of action?
The idea is we would do it road trip style from Geneva. Cervinia/Zermatt, Chamonix, Tarantaise, drop off car in Geneva, train to Paris and fly out of there.
Thanks in advance.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
sbooker,

I've skied the VB twice and my second go at the VB was on a lads' trip, when 8 of us visited Chamonix.

Our party that time included 2 lads who had only 2 weeks skiing experience and they managed the VB ok. (They were gutsy snowploughers, with a strong technique and determined to get down at all cost). We didn't have fresh powder but had a couple of inches of mainly tracked snow, on a firm base. The downhill skiing wasn't steep at all but there were a couple of steep traverses above large crevasses which were, effectively, "no fall zones." The guiding was excellent and all danger spots were pointed out by the guide in advance. Though that usually involved obvious, gaping, crevasses some danger spots were less apparent to us, with hidden crevasses, or potentially dangerous seracs that we had to pass quickly.

It sounds like your group would manage fine. It's a great experience and a spectacular day out!

On neither trip were we required to carry transceivers or avy kit.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 24-04-20 9:41; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@sbooker, The standard route down the VB would be no problem to you. Many say the scariest/hardest part of the trip is the ridge walk to get to the start of the skiable face. The first time we did it I thought it was very intimidating but the second time not at all. I think there was more snow the second time and I was also more used to the exposure after doing more off piste skiing and a ski touring week. The guide will rope you up if they feel it's necessary and I wouldn't sweat it. The skiing itself is not steep and the route through the crevasses clear in good visibility. And there would be no point if it wasn't.

I had kit when I did it but I am pretty sure the guide's can and will provide bleepers and enough probes/shovels for the party. If not yes, you can hire.

The second time we did an alternate route on the first stretch which wasn't overly gnarly but there more interesting and less/no people. You can discuss options with the guide. It's possible to do it twice in the same day if you have the time/money. Or the guide could take you somewhere else in the valley to make a day of it.

GM is out of action though you can skin up I believe.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The top bin is out of action but you can still ski from approx 2750m on the GM - majority of the terrain (with the exception of the home run) above 1900m and north facing. Closing day is always around start of May. Plenty of off piste terrain to go at, lots of it is obvious but if you're at all unsure then hire a guide for a day (will probably have a better day that way than trying to work it out for yourself anyway). You can still skin the remaining 400m to the top but don't underestimate the seriousness of the terrain on the backside, it's a serious glacier

Avalanche rental is widely available. If you book a guided package on the vallee blanche, they will normally supply avy gear, harnesses etc. In terms of technical difficulty, the easiest way down is very mellow (euro red piste at most). The issue is rather the danger of the terrain (crevasse, seracs, avalanches, rockfall etc etc). There are more difficult variants depending on what you are up for etc. If you can handle ungroomed terrain in the NA resorts you'll be fine with VB
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@sbooker,

Quote:

Would the Vallee Blanche be suitable for us? VB standard route is more or less an easy red.

We don’t have avalanche gear. Can that be hired? Yes, and you will want crampons probably for the Arete, probs harnesses (depending) and you will want to take a guide. It's glaciated.

Is there a resort in Chamonix that is decent (elevation and northish facing) in April? I believe Grand Montets is out of action? Ah, the joys of media rumours. The Grands Montets is only missing its top cable car, and is fully running otherwise.

The idea is we would do it road trip style from Geneva. Cervinia/Zermatt, Chamonix, Tarantaise, drop off car in Geneva, train to Paris and fly out of there. Seems reasonable. Easter quite early in 2021
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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?
If you were strong skiers and have a decent level of fitness, you could always ask your guide to do VB in the morning, then in the afternoon go up to Argentiere and skin up the final 300m/2km on the Grands Montets (to put this in context, the slowest I've ever done it was 2 hrs with a novice splitboarder on a rental board, and the fastest is about 35 mins). Descent is anything from 5 to 30 mins depending on route, fitness and desire for pictures.

You'll get to ski two of the most areas in the world and be pretty tired at the end, but it would be an amazing day.

The nice thing with the GM skin is that, at any point, you can bail and ski down the front face, so if you find it difficult/slow then you can just bail, so it's a great late afternoon route without time pressure.
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Thanks all. Great info.
We’ll have to wait to see what the future brings I guess.
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