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chamonix off-piste

Dan and Georgie ski toured the Vallée Blanche, an off-piste route in the high mountains of Chamonix.

"The Vallée Blanche is 22km of some of the finest glacial skiing in the French Alps. A full-on adventure. Starting from the Aiguille du Midi at 3800m, it takes you down the Mer du Glace to the historic train station at Montenvers. The rack and pinion train brings people up from Chamonix to the ice caves at the snout of the glacier.

Cramming into the cable car is a bit full-on at 7.30 in the morning but where we are going its worth it. We climb from Chamonix to the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m.

We sit, gearing up; crampons, harness, ice ace, ice screws and rope. The non-skier tourists look on with intrigue and bemusement as we set off down the midi ridge into the wild, skis slung over our shoulders. At the bottom of the ridge the Alpine Choughs circle overhead keeping an ever hopeful eye there might be a discarded croissant or two.

We clip into our skis and off we go. Awesome powder turns on 2500m of vertical descent. We carefully ski through icefalls, under seracs and over and around crevasses, all under the watchful eye of some of the most beautiful, iconic mountains of the Alps. We head back towards the Seracs du Geant and the Salle a Manger, then its a relatively straight forward ski to the ice caves.

Thanks to global warming the glacier is now about 200m lower than when the Montenvers train station was opened in 1909, there's an awful lot of steps to get up to the train now - around 421. On the way up the stairs are plaques with the dates of the level of the glacier, back to around 1985 - a stark reminder of the speed of glacial recession and a pause for thought to try and leave as little trace as possible but still have amazing adventures."


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