Review of Chamonix

28th March 2010 by PaulJenner 

If you’re skiing or snowboarding the Vallée Blanche without a guide you need to be aware that new arrangements are in place this season. Last season, already having six-day passes, we just turned up at the cable car station and queued. This season we arrived at 09.45 to discover that we needed to get a number from the Caisse. We were given 31, which meant we had to wait until 12.15. The best thing to do, therefore, is book in advance (which you can do online). It’s not entirely fair, in my opinion. We therefore got a pretty late start and, having completed the Vallée Blanche, arrived at the far end of the Mer de Glace to discover that the lift up to the Montenvers train had closed at 16.00 and that we had missed it.

We, and about 50 others, therefore had to climb over 300m vertical on a steep and narrow snow path, while the lift personnel stood and watched us. This is something everyone should complain about. It’s far too early to close the lift at 16.00. The last advertised train is 16.30 but, in reality, there’s a non-advertised last descent which, in our case, left at about 18.15. If the lift had been kept running we could all (including the lift operators) have got back to Chamonix an hour or so earlier. That climb up to the Montenvers cog railway station was the most physically demanding part of the Vallée Blanche experience. Be warned.

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