The Grand Chamonix Ice Climbing Workshop

Overview

A five-day course at arguably one of the best ice climbing spots on the Planet.

The Grand Chamonix Ice Climbing Workshop

Your instructors are thrilled to pass on their extensive experience of numerous ice-expeditions in the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges. Nothing makes them more thirsty than the sight of you scaling a 70° multi-pitch ice route after a few days of instruction.

Having become accustomed to bivvies on long mixed routes above 6,500 meters, they know their thing when it comes to safety, equipment and skill on winter mountains. When it comes to ice climbing, the Chamonix area – with its proximity and accessibility – is the perfect setting to pick the brains of your ubertalented instructors.

Unlike most Chamonix ice climbing companies, we will probably take you for a visit to the less frequented Italian side of Mont Blanc, where the possibilities for beginners are even more colorful!

Further Info

You needn't have prior experience in ice climbing, but basic knowledge of ropework and a friendly relationship with crampons may be of great help. Otherwise, the course is tailored to your ambitions and abilities. It helps to arrive prepared with good endurance and arm strength. Regular rock climbing and indoor climbing for a few weeks prior to your course will have you in perfect shape.

Is this trip for you?

Physical Difficulty
2
Technical Difficulty
4
Cultural Shock
1

Itinerary

The instructor to guide ratio on these courses is 1:1 or 1:2, depending on your choice. Naturally, the course is completely tailored to your abilities. A friendly relationship with crampons is not a must but definitely helpful. Likewise, not having to learn basic ropework and belaying under the icefall also helps you get the most out of this thing.

There is little point in making up a detailed itinerary here, as the program for your five days strongly depends on conditions – weather and avalanche situation. The daily routine looks like this:

  1. Wakey wakey at 7 AM. Have a grand breakfast and pack some sandwiches and energy-rich snacks for lunch. We want to be on the ice by 8 AM, so the morning ritual is a rapid endeavour.
  2. Climbing all day long. That’s what you come here for, isn’t it? Days are short in winter so we usually finish by 5-6 pm.
  3. Retreat to the valley: Chamonix and Argentiere offer some fine afterclimb programs for mountaineers. Whatever you desire after the day’s adrenaline flow, you’ll find it in town.
  4. Before calling it a day, prepare your equipment for the day to come.

Here is what you can expect to gain from the five day course

if you’re a newbie:

  • knowledge and proper use of all ice climbing equipment and safety
  • being able to secure a route on ice
  • building anchors with ice screws and “abalakovs“(that is, drilling 2 holes in the ice and tying a runner in them)
  • technique: moving confidently and securely in icy couloirs and waterfall ice
  • nicely warming muscle ache

if you’re more intermediate-advanced:

  • securing routes on mixed terrain with ice screws and nuts/wedges
  • lots of ice climbing and drytooling techniques
  • pushing routes to your limits with a world class climber as a partner
  • secret techniques, like getting an ice screw out from above your head after a rapell
  • nicely warming muscle ache

You are based in a friendly guesthouse in Argentiére which will serve as the base camp for your venues.

Equipment and Info

Weather

The middle of winter – you need to prepare yourself for snow and cold; down to 15-20 degrees below freezing on mornings at the hut at 1500 m. If you need advice on clothing and equipment, let us know via the form below, your guide will be more than happy to help.

Later in the season (April-May) conditions may not be suitable for ice climbing. if the ice melts, we’ll still figure out something fun for you in a steep couloir.

Equipment

Price includes equipment hire, so you need not worry about technical gear. Of course, you may bring your own gear if you prefer, but regrettably, we can’t discount the price of the trip should you bring your own stuff. What you do need to bring is good climbing boots broken in, so they won’t hurt your feet. Here is a list that may be helpful to get yourself organized before the trip:

  • underclothing
  • trekking socks
  • rucksack – 45-60 liters
  • waterproof pants – make sure you treat them with water-repellent prior to your trip
  • waterproof jacket – make sure you treat it with water-repellent prior to your trip
  • two pairs of gloves
  • warm hat
  • sunscreen (min. factor 30) and chopstick for your lips.
  • sunglasses
  • 2 fleece sweaters/vest
  • climbing boots

Lodging

You are based in a friendly guesthouse in Argentiére which will serve as the base camp for your venues.

Food & Drink

In guesthouses, we generally get small breakfasts, while on the mountain, you are responsible for your meals. You can buy warm meals at refuge houses as well as hot and alcoholic beverages. During the day, you may prefer high-calorie snacks. Our favorites are granola bars, dried fruits etc.

Make sure you take in at least 1,5 liters of drinks every 12 hours on the mountain. It’s vital that you properly hydrate. Proper hydration aids acclimatisation, concentration at altitude and actually protects against the cold.

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