Chamonix Alpine Trip 2020: 11-19 July

Hello all,

Matt Grange and myself are taking point in organising the Alps trip for 2020. We are probably going to head to The Écrins, being based in Ailefroide.

Proposed dates are c. 11-18th July, ie a week later than last year.

Does that seem ok to most?

We can organise more precise logistics closer to the time.

Great stuff. Glad you guys are on it. My vote would be for Chamonix this year having done club trips to the Ecrins twice in the last 3 years.

Plus Dave Adler discovered Chamonix’s untold secret. Stay at the Auberge de Jeunese and the lift is supercheap!

1 Like

I’m down for this - either destination sounds good to me!

The key for me really is the type of rock. My memories of granite friction slabs are still haunting me so I’d want to be absolutely sure the rock I’m climbing is actually full of holds. Dates are less important, I’m pretty sure either week is fine. Cost also a factor so I’d like to know the difference between Cham and Ecrins.

Cham could be cool actually. Not least as I could do a crevasse rescue course there at some point so as to be able to pull people out of big ice holes if necessary.

1 Like

@HollyP but granite slabs are covered in holds, they just might be very very very small!


@HollyP unfortunately both places feature slabs :joy: Especially on the easier grades.
Summary: Chamonix climbing almost exclusively requires a lift, with the exception of a couple of crags you can drive&walk to. Ailefroide more easy multipitches at an easy reach. Chamoix has lots of exciting granite crack climbing and alpine routes at faster reach with the lifts.

Ailefroide itself is granite but starting from 20min drive down the valley there are top quality limestone sports crags of which many are north facing, so ideal in the summer heat. The Briancon area has a huge variety of amazing limestole crags, grades ranging the full spectrum. Steeper easy stuff has plenty of holds, slabby easy stuff is still more feasible than Bregaglia granite slabs :dizzy_face: For those interested in hard sport stuff after or before the alpine week, Ceuse is only a few hours drive away from Ailefroide. And it IS the best crag in the world, without a question, if you climb F6c upwards!

Chamonix is amazing if you want to have quick access to high mountain, you save one full day of walking so your legs are happier and you can do more in a week. However, it is not great for anyone who wants to climb harder sports routes or who has no budget to take the lift everyday. Big contrast to Ailefroid is that you need to drive around (or try to move around with the local train) if you want to find the easier climbing in the valley. I love Chamonix, it used to be my home for 5 years, I still go multiple times every year and I have done some of my best alpine days out there. However it is very crowded and pricey.

I think honestly that Ailefroide is better for a big group as the climbing grades start from very low. As a bonus the campsite is a cute alpine forest/field where you can do what you want, including light a campfire.

I am planning to be visiting both this summer, so very happy with either!


Chamonix sounds great- my plan is to be there for a long trip (say, 3 weeks), perhaps August to catch as many rock routes in condition as possible,


Chamonix would be good for a change. Variables are the weather, which is typically a lot less stable than that around Briancon, and also timing for conditions on the alpine routes. Though based on Toby and George’s experience this year, early is now more reliable than August and these should be ‘in’ in early July.

I’m hearing calls for the new.

But @Kris makes good points about inclusivity. And the price of bastard lifts.

People seem happy with the proposed dates, at least. Suggest we keep discusions open and settle on Chamonix vs. Ailefroide in due course. Or go rogue and head to East Tyrol. Yeah, just throwing that one out there.

I’d be in if was Ailefroid

1 Like

Climbing in the Aiguille Rouge has plenty of holds, it’s Gneiss. Also, granite cracks all over Cham so it’s easy enough to avoid granite friction slabs. But then maybe you shouldn’t avoid them? The rock in Cham is very good generally and has much less chose than Ecrin. Also, down the valley you have the Arv and this has brilliant Limestone. There is multipitch bolted sport routes with a 5 minute walk in and has some easier ‘friction’ climbing interspersed with holds. It’s a great place to get loads of routes done in a day and has very friendly bolting.
I’m biased I know but I’m for Chamonix too.

Also if the weather craps out in cham, drive through the tunnel into Italy and it’s normally sunshine. You obviously need a car for this but there is pretty much always somewhere good or dry to climb

Good to know. On the other hand it’s quite dependant on there being someone/a few people to climb with doing the easier stuff. I’ll keep thinking!

Hi everyone

I am beginner :see_no_evil: (5c) Do you think can I join this trip?

I don’t mind which one as long as it is suitable for a beginner. Reading the posts Ailefroid seems to be better choice.



Hi Hasret - we always aim to make the trips inclusive, I’m sure by next summer there’ll be people for you to team up with (and no doubt by then you will be leading 6a!)

Hi Hasret, as Paul said there is plenty of time!

Would you be able to start climbing with us regularly at the Castle if you haven’t already? Getting the spring new members and a couple of other meets under your belt would be good ahead of the Alps trip so you get to know us a bit etc. beforehand.

Also lots of longer routes on the Barberine headwall below the tree line just north of the Cham valley.

Would also be interested in the amazing Envers de Aiguilles routes on the south side of the Chamonix Aiguilles.

Rob, generally, when would you suggest best timing for Summer Cham trips?

Welcome Hasret.

I’ll echo what Paul and Mark have said, there is plenty of time to get the experience required to go on the trip. To be clear (and really for the benefit of anyone subsequently reading this read, rather than singling you out in particular!), the alpine meets are more committing than the UK based meets because the routes are longer, at higher altitude and the weather can be more extreme. A greater range of techniques may be required, depending on objective, such as safely moving together, use of crampons and ice axes, and crevasse rescue.

We will aim to choose an inclusive venue which has routes for all levels of ability and there are usually easy access rock routes where fewer of the factors above come into play. To get the most out of it, you’d want to be there with a like minded partner (i.e. someone having similar objectives in mind). The great thing about going with the club is that there will be experienced people with local knowledge of the area, particularly if we go to Cham or Ailefroide. So lots of brains to pick about techniques or route selection.



1 Like

Ah, if it’s in school holidays I was thinking it would be great to take the kids to experience the Alps, somewhere like Chamonix and prob camp so maybe this would be perfect. One of us could go cragging or climbing on some days.

I’d be interested to keep an eye out on plans.

Max, Dale, Holly? Fancy bringing kids/grandkids?

It’s unlikely we would go big Alpine.