On the way home from a great guiding trip to Norway, I decided to swing through my recent summer home, Chamonix, France. Typically my trips to Cham are filled with work and I often find myself eager to investigate the lifetimes’ worth of objectives. A dedicated vacances and reconnaissance trip this spring allowed me to explore some future trip destinations as well as some local gems that I hadn’t previously investigated. @kyledmattingly, my partner for this adventure, was ultra-psyched to experience what the mega-hype of Chamonix is all about and we made the most of two weeks by crushing baguettes (Kyle has a weakness for Midnight Express) and crossing borders on skis.

Vallee Blanche skiVallee Blanche Skiing

Kyle and I began our trip by ticking off some of the mega-classics the Arête des Cosmiques and the Vallee Blanche, as well as some less frequented, but more engaging mixed routes with télécabine and rappel access. It had been a few years since I had skied the “VB”, but the route is popular for a reason, and this descent was no less than spectacular. Those paying mind to ski conditions in the Alps this winter and spring will be quick to quip about the “thin” conditions, but let me reassure you all that even in a lean year, great snow and excellent lines exist in abundance.

KDM getting rad on the Cosmiques sans corde

Profit-Perroux Climbing

One of the nice things about hanging in Chamonix for a bit, is the frequency in which we rendezvous with mountain bound friends from around the globe. There truly is no equivalent when it comes to an international climbing hub, and it was great to get out into the mountains with friends from other areas. Mon pote and fellow guide de haute montagne, Forest McBrian and I motivated for a day of hard laughing and soft snow skiing on the Breche Puiseaux. A beautiful day in the mountains, complete with thousands of meters of powder skiing in the shadow of the Grand Jorasses.

Forest Booting up to the Breche

enjoying great powder skiing in the “lean” Alps

Spring in the Mont Blanc range often allows the climbing skier to approach alpine rock climbs with skis rather than a hot glacier trudge as is common in summer months. Kyle and I took advantage of the warm temperatures and explored one of the best moderate granite climbing destinations in the range just off of the Argentiere Glacier.

Sunny granite above the Argentiere Hut

Au Cheval on the Aiguille de Refuge

We were able to ski right to the base of our objective, Aiguille de Refuge, and transitioned right into our rock shoes for 8 pitches of sunny golden granite climbing. This route (Le Gâteau de Riz) is worth a repeat in the summer and many other possibilities exist on the SE face of the feature. Once the snow melts, the Refuge d’Argentiere will be a great place to base out of for a few days of Alpine Rock Climbing this summer.

High on the Aiguille de Refuge

The climbing options in Chamonix truly are endless and I leave with a larger tick list, and growing repertoire for excellent mountain adventures, both ski and alpine, for future Mountain Pro adventures. This summer, I will again be based out of Chamonix and would be happy to show you the majesty of the French Alps with a North American guiding style.

Mike