An extensive, pristine white blanket of snow, a hidden treasure between the high mountains of the French Alps, the Vallée Blanche, Europe’s longest off-piste descend, stands above Chamonix, and might just be the most famous ski run in the whole world. The snow-swept ground and the ice-carved mountain peaks standing in every direction add up to give you a unique, incomparable experience with the shot of adrenaline this extreme sport gives you.
France is known for hiding beautiful places, resembling romance through its art and history. It’s one of the most visited countries in Europe since its attraction goes beyond what you see on the screen. The Vallée Blanche, a white paradise trapped between high mountains with sprinkles of snow at the top, makes it impossible for you to realize that such a white breathtaking place exists on Earth and is right in front of you.
If you consider yourself pretty skillful in skiing you can plan a trip to the Alpine peaks, perfect for intermediate skiers, including the famous Mont Blanc, passing through the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) ―a route of snow that comes down like a slide as you get ready to have a full endearing moment with nature in the unique snowy places Chamonix offers.
It’s recommended to hire a professional guide that can provide different security instructions and a good educational route. Specialist ski operator Neilson offers a skiing package to explore Chamonix that includes accommodation at their Red Mountain Lodge and a self-made walkway descent through the Vallée Blanche.
Cable car to the top
It might seem scary at first, not everybody is born to ski down a 22 km mountain with such a high start; there are 1100 meters from the ground all the way to the top but don’t worry, one of the world’s highest cable cars is here to transport tourists both ways.
Even if you’re not up to skiing, this is a chance you cannot miss. From the second lift station, you’re going to feel like you’re taking a really impossible trip to the top in a simple, but unbelievably long cable car system. After 5 minutes inside the see-through box, you’re going to be 3820 meters separated from the ground, with the peak of Aiguille du Midi at north. If you glimpse down to the mountain, ski tracks will be on sight, going down to the valley; all of this is surrounded by a panoramic view to the classic Grandes Jorasses and the distant Italian-Swiss border and its Matterhorn.
Where it all starts
When you arrive at the top, you will walk a neat line made by professional guides for security purposes, so they can fasten climbing harnesses and clip them into a rope to avoid accidents, and then you will enter an ice tunnel to get to the ridge. This is a thin mountain ridge you will need to go all the way down for the next stop. The following path is at a 30-degree angle, with secured ropes on both sides of the handrails. It’s understandable that anyone gets goosebumps when at one side of the route, you can see the now-small Chamonix standing 2700 meters below you, and a 50-degree hill on the other.
The journey begins at the classic route in Vallée Blanche, as you find your way around the snow-filled holes of Glacier du Géant. This downhill finishes at the Sérac du Géant, an area with caves, sharp ice rocks and blocks of ice in different sizes. As if you were finding a path at an extent maze, you will pick a way through a weird iced landscape. With the help of a guide and a relaxed mind, the passage will be easier and more secure to walk on, so take a deep breath and follow every instruction. Blue-colored ice will lead you to the Refuge du Requin at 2561 meters, also named ‘Shark’s Refugee’ thanks to its fin shape.
Dining on ice
Under the hut, a wide serac is the only obstacle to reach the Salle á Manger (Dining Room). It received this title since it’s often described as a perfect spot for anyone who wants to have a picnic over the ice, right beneath the great peak of Grandes Jorasses. Anyone with snowboarding or skiing experience takes a risky move when deep crevasses could eat them down to the ground.
The Mer de Glace, the second largest glacier in the Alps, is a dense ice figure spreading down 7 km to Montenvers, a slow and careful walk will be enough to reach this small village that, without a doubt, will make you feel welcomed and comfortable after a long day. After going through ice caves and numerous steps, another ride on a cable car will finish the day, and you won’t stop thinking about how fun and diverse taking the world’s largest off-piste was, although the only world you knew was on-piste.
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