Come and explore the hidden wonders of Chamonix with this personalised ice fall climbing excursion!
This activity is open to people of all levels – no need to have previous experience! All you really need is motivation and a love for the outdoors!
Beginners will learn the necessary basic techniques whereas experienced ice fall climbers can focus on improving and perfecting their skills. Chamonix is one of the best ice fall climbing locations, it contains many varied terrains which help climbers develop and progress quickly.
Although this activity may seem daunting, it really isn’t. It’s all a question of listening to the advice and guidance of an expert and who better to take you out than Sébastien Laurent! He has over 16 years of experience of taking people out to explore the hidden marvels of Chamonix and Cogne.
Sébastien will make sure the route and equipment are adapted for your skill level and ice fall climbing goals.
Groups are limited to 4 people maximum, enabling Sébastien to provide you with tailor-made advice and guidance.
Everyone needs to try ice fall climbing at least once in their life – now’s your chance!
- Progress your ice climbing skills from IV+ to V
- Dry-tooling techniques in the easy areas (M3 to M4)
- Belaying and rope management
- Learn the fundementals of lead climbing
- Efficient use of safety equipment on this terrain, including ice screws, nuts
- Learn how to use abalakov thread
Itineraries vary depending on the weather conditions, below you can see some example of programmes:
Name: Cremerie des Glaciers Ice Fall
Height: 70 metres
- You will meet your instructor at the meeting point (confirmed the evening before) at 9am
- He will check all your equipment after which you'll make your way to the foot of the Glacier d'Argentiere at la Cremerie des Glaciers
- You will learn how to use crampons and an ice axe in ice falls between 70° and 75° long and 30 metres high
- You will also execute one ice fall of 70 metres
Name: EMHM I Ice Fall
Height: 110 metres
Located on the left bank of the Argentiere glacier, this is a beautiful ice fall of 100 metres high at 80° maximum.
- You can admire the ice falls on the right side of the glacier, many of which are graded VI
- You can execute belays in the first part of the climb and then dry tool the rock or fine ice
Name: Gorges de l'Arveyron Ice Falls
Grade: III to V
Height: 50 metres
These gorges offer a variety of ice falls in a magical setting.
- You will start climbing the ice falls a few metres from the clear and powerful water of the Arveyron
- The ice fall here are very sculpted, you'll be able to climb them just by slotting your ice axe in the holes. A technique often referred to as the lockpicking technique
- You can start in second position in ice falls graded V at 90° to really test your strength
Name: Mini Couloir Ice Fall
Height: 40 metres
Here you will find 2 stunning ice falls
- They are located on the left bank of the glacier of Argentiere
- Each offers numerous descent options enabling you to climb them several times in particular by using dry tooling techniques
Name: Troulero Ice Fall
Height: 190 metres
You will venture into the black water valley in Switzerland, located 2 km from the border
- You'll go into the deep gorge to find the ice fall that is surrounded by ice
- You will climb 4 lengths of ice with numerous but short passages at 90° - you'll be exposed to some of the most stunning backdrops ever
- Once you've finished you'll make your way back to Chamonix
If there is particularly bad weather in France it is possible (weather permitting) to continue the course in Val de Cogne, Italy, situated no more than an hour away from Chamonix. The ice climbing area in Italy is as beautiful as the one in France, and has many ice climbing terrains for people of all levels.
Ice climbing uses a grading system originally founded in Canada and still used in Europe. This system reflects the difficulty of a route, giving you an idea of any dangers present such as rockfall and serac.
The activities proposed by Sébastien range between WI2 and WI4:
WI2: low-angled (60 degree consistent ice), with good technique can be easily climbed with one ice axe. Grades beyond this generally require the use of two ice tools.
WI4: near-vertical steps of up to 10 metres, generally sustained climbing requiring placing protection screws from strenuous stances