Chamonix has such a reputation and history for alpine mountaineering and climbing. Is this reputation founded on something real or is it just hype because it’s at the foot of Mont Blanc and close to Geneva airport…? Well here are a few reasons why climbing in Chamonix is pretty good.
The cable cars in Chamonix take you up to wild locations which would require many hours of hiking without them. The number and variety of climbs accessible with short approaches is pretty much as good as it gets. Thanks to the short approaches, you get to spend a lot more time climbing and improving your alpinism and less time hiking. The Aiguille du Midi takes you to 3842m with many objectives, Brevent, Flegere, Grand Montets, Montenvers and Le Tour all access interesting and different areas.
The views in the Mont Blanc range are wild and spectacular and sometimes a bit frightening. You’re often surrounded by towers of vertical granite, seracs and glaciers. On the Aiguille Rouges side of the range the view over Europe’s highest peak with green alpine meadows is majestic. The routes like l’Index, Cocher – Cochon, Aiguille de Crochues traverse or the Chapelle de la Gliere are some of the best panoramic viewpoints.
The quality of the technical climbing in Chamonix is some of the best anywhere. The high mountains are golden granite with aesthetic ridges, faces and corners with cracks that allow protection and good climbing. The Aiguille du Midi, Envers des Aiguilles, Pointe Lachenal, Pyramid du Tacul, Pointe Adolphe Rey, Grand Capucin, Argentiere Glacier and Orny are all world class climbing venues to name a few.
The lower mountains are Gneiss which isn’t as perfect as the granite but has many great intermediate level routes. Les Perrons, Vallorcine, Les Cheserys, Flegere and Brevent are all super Gneiss venues.
A bit further down the valley below Chamonix, there are many limestone peaks offering a different experience and many quality climbs in remote locations. The Pointe Percée, Croix de Fer and Col de la Colombiere are all super spots for multi-pitch limestone climbing.