News Headlines     |     


CHASING SNOW IN CHAM - Katie Bamber, Vallorcine, Chamonix
Friday March 15, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The PlanetSKI road trip to ski the wild mountains of Chamonix faces challenges with heavy snow closing road passes & ski lifts.

It had to be just taking it as it came.

The weather is unpredictable on this mid-March ski roadtrip.

Winging it, in some ways, and rolling with the punches, finding our way up into the snow by whatever means.

It's making it up as all good road trips should be...

Arriving in the Chamonix valley on Thursday night, it was always going to be a big snow day - an adventure getting up and onto the slopes.

20cm had fallen on Thursday, a projected 25cm through Friday.

We drove through Chamonix proper up to Argentiere, on to Montroc to head up and out of the Chamonix Valley to Vallorcine.

The mountains are wild here, and especially powerful in this near-blizzard weather.

Le BuetNext day in Le Buet

Trees and steep rock were only just visible slugging down the Col des Montets into Le Buet - a secluded hamlet - and into Vallorcine.

15 years ago, I was informed by a Chamonix old hand, Vallorcine was also a hamlet.

It has the train station linking it to Martigny in Switzerland to Chamonix and guided ski tourers could ski off the back of Le Tour - absolutely guided as it was steep, avalanche risky, with hidden cliffs and a near-impossible route to navigate - and into Vallorcine.

Its mountains border Switzerland and a small train linking Martigny to Cham would chug you home after visiting the rustic creperie on the platform would feed weary skiers "the best pancakes in France", Old Hand claims.

Once a secluded and sleepy hamlet, Vallorcine has in the past decade been connected to Le Tour by a gondola, opening up the skiing and the isolated village a little more.

But only a little.

Apart from a few 'modern' apartment buildings built, I can't imagine a much sleepier place.

But nonetheless a perfect spot to take on the Chamonix skiing from.

Who needs Cham nightlife and bling when you've got the mountains to take on?

If you can get there...

Train's a no-goTrain's a no-go from Vallorcine

The plan was to take the train to Argentiere in the morning, to tour up the route of the burnt-down cable car station.
It's March after all.

However the silent, powdery snow covering all tracks within minutes last night had turned wet.
Temperature changes messes with the snow and an avalanche had fallen over the train tracks.

The Col des Montets we drove over at 5pm yesterday, littered with cars fixing chains and less prepared being towed, was closed.

What to do?

Drive the rail tunnel through the mountain, as no train was using it, by car.

Le BuetLe Buet

Indeed the Col is closed.

The weather had warmed up incredibly, so there's avalanche from above risk.

Col des Montet - Access Chamonix - ClosedCol des Montet - Access Chamonix - Closed

Train tunnel to ArgentiereTrain tunnel to Argentiere

Rail tunnel through to Chamonix ValleyRail tunnel through to Chamonix Valley


It's 10am and already an achievement down, without even having put on skis.

Which is the next stop, picking up the rights skis for the snow at Intersport.

ChamonixThe clear up in the Chamonix side

Col des MontetsCol des Montets firmly closed

Very luckily, heading through Argentiere for Les Houches down the valley, the Argentiere lifts opened.

So whilst still not touring the burnt down lift line up to Grands Montets as there was too much for steep and deep wet March snow.

We were heading up to see how the ski area is this season without its famous Grands Montets lift peak access.

But before you go on up the hill...

Don't miss the patisserie in Argentiere, Le Fournil.

The ski breakfast of champs.

Le Fournil, ArgentiereLe Fournil, Argentiere


Or just weary road trippers making their way to the snow.

Skylight views in Chamonix ArgentiereSkylight views in Chamonix Argentiere

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

Related Articles

AUGUST SKIING SECRETS (Sunday August 25, 2019)
IF SKI RESORTS WERE BISCUITS... (Saturday August 10, 2019)
MY BIG WET GREEK ‘HOLIDAY' (Monday August 5, 2019)
JULY SKIING SECRETS (Tuesday July 30, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners