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CHAMONIX, FRANCE | JULY 29th - AUGUST 5th, 2023 | AUGUST 12th - 19th, 2023 | ALL GENDERS WELCOME
If you want to climb in one of the most incredible places on the planet, look no further. More importantly, if you also want lifts, huts, short approaches, amazing views and delicious food from wine and cheese to beer and bakeries, you really won’t find a better place than Chamonix. There are a lot of reasons that Chamonix is the coolest mountain town on Earth, but don't take our word for it - come join us for a week of food, fun and sunny stone to see what it's all about.
If you haven’t been, it’s hard to really appreciate the scale, diversity, and quality of the climbing and mountain culture the Alps have to offer, and nowhere is that truer than Chamonix. The beating heart of the Alps, Chamonix is a Mecca for climbers. With routes ranging from snow and ice climbs to rock faces, soaring alpine ridges, and anything you can imagine, the towering spires of the Mont Blanc Massif are where it all started.
Over a week with our industry-leading IFMGA Mountain Guides you’ll learn the techniques you need to approach multi-pitch rock and alpine climbs with confidence. We'll cover everything from gear selection to multi-pitch climbing and belay techniques. You'll learn a variety of rope systems for ascending and descending, as well as basic snow climbing with ice axes and crampons. We'll also cover the basics of glacier travel and navigation. Most of all though, we're going climbing.
At the heart of Chamonix’s mountains are a stunning lineup of towers and spires home to some of the most iconic and adored routes in the world. The Mont Blanc Massif is literally a climber's playground. With a huge amount of stone of many types, the area has something for everybody. The heart of the range is composed of impeccable golden granite, and with an incredible network of trains, lifts, huts and trails, it's all easy to get to as well. Chamonix granite comes in all shapes of sizes too, yielding routes ranging from moderate ridges and rock climbs to massive faces and endless splitter cracks. Many of these are reached via short glacier crossings, bringing a unique set of alpine skills to bear.
Below the glaciers, Chamonix and the surrounding areas also offer a host of options with no snow at all. Those include sunny bolted and traditionally-protected routes, epic ridge traverses and scrambles, and single and multi-pitch climbs on a variety of rock types including gneiss, granite and limestone.
We’ll move between skills sessions and climbing routes of all sizes with two goals: Having fun, and making you an efficient, competent and confident alpine climber. Each day we’ll make sure you’re paired with climbers and climbs that match your ability so you don’t have to worry about being held back or pushed too far. Our expert guides are all internationally certified with the IFMGA badge, “the PhD of mountain climbing.” The best in the business, they’ll help you through the training and skills you need both on the ground and on route.
Our low ratios are also what make this program unique. The entire week we'll be in groups of two climbers per guide to maximize your learning and fun and give you the best experience of these incredible mountains.
One of the best parts of climbing in the Alps - especially for American climbers used to long slogs, heavy packs and sleeping in tents - is that you get to combine a climbing trip with a European vacation. Sure the mountains are the best in the world, but you’re also in France, which means the food, hotels and mountain huts are superb as well.
In addition to being located in one of the great mountain ranges of the world, Chamonix is also one of the planet’s great mountain towns. With everything from nightlife to wine bars, fondue joints and fine dining, Chamonix has it all. It also hosts some of the most gorgeous chalets and hotels in the Alps, and we’ll be based out of the hip and centrally-located Hotel Pointe Isabelle. Just a few minutes walk from everything in town, it’s a perfect home base for any adventure.
In addition to our lovely hotel, we’ll also spend a night in one of our favorite mountain huts. Situated on the Swiss side of the Mont Blanc range, the Cabane d'Orny comes complete with comfy beds, delicious food, and incredible views.
We like to try hard, but we also like to relax and live well, so we’ve hand-picked our favorite hotels, restaurants, bakeries and snacks to give you a taste of it all.
July 29th - August 5th, 2023 | August 12th - 19th, 2023
$5,150 to $5,625 depending on room selection
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
ROOM SELECTION & PRICING:
You get yourself to Chamonix and we'll have a room ready for you. If you're flying, you'll want to arrive in nearby Geneva. It's the closest airport by far, and you can easily reach Chamonix via one of many low-cost transfer services available right from the arrivals hall. The drive is beautiful and just a little over an hour as you leave the green hills of Switzerland behind for the craggy peaks of the Chamonix Valley. We don’t like to make anybody do too much after a long day of travel, so you’ll be on your own to explore and shake off the jetlag, and your only job will be to find something tasty for dinner and to try to get some sleep.
We’ll officially start the trip with breakfast at the hotel before getting our gear together and heading out for the day. We’ll start our training with rock climbing on one of the many fantastic crags around Chamonix, most likely at the top of the Brévent lift. We'll conduct some brief belay tests, and we’ll practice with the rope systems we’ll be using in the mountains. We’ll work on techniques for multi-pitch climbing, belaying, and rappelling, and for folks with multi-pitch experience experience already, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a few new tricks and just enjoy some climbing. After a full day, we’ll head back to town for a welcome dinner and another night at the Pointe Isabelle.
After another breakfast, we’ll make sure everyone has everything they need before heading up the famous Aiguille du Midi cable car. The lift will take us up 9300' to the top to the Vallée Blanche, which we'll cross with another panoramic lift ride to the Italian side of the range. From there we’ll spend the day covering the basics of snow climbing with crampons and ice axes before climbing one of the nearby peaks via an introductory-level classic, the Aiguilles Marbrees. After that we’ll return back to Chamonix for another night at the hotel.
Now that we'll have acclimatized and covered both rock and snow skills, we'll head over to Switzerland to one of our favorite huts to do some alpine rock climbing. The day will start with a drive to the northern end of the Mont Blanc range, and from the town of Champex Lac we'll ride a chairlift into the hills and hike a gorgeous trail to reach the Cabane d'Orny at about 9,300' on the edge of the Orny Glacier. The hike takes about 2-3 hours, and will get us there around mid-day so that we can deposit our things and go climbing. The routes and peaks around the cabin are the perfect classroom for folks hoping to just climb some classics, or to work on skills for anchors, leading or multipitching, all on picture perfect granite. Whatever we choose, at the end of the day we'll get back to the hut, which comes equipped with beds in shared rooms, and serves simple but hearty dinners and breakfasts. They also have beer, wine, soft drinks, and snacks, and will provide sandwiches and other lunch foods on request.
We'll start with an early breakfast at the hut before heading out to climb. With only one other climber and a guide, you'll be free to focus on routes that suit your style and ability, and that can be anything from a big granite route to a fun traverse or a bolted multi-pitch from two to twelve pitches long. These days are just meant to be fun, so the world is your oyster. For those interested in working on skills, you'll have one of the absolute best guides in the business at your disposal, and we dare you not to have a good time. We’ll once again finish the day at the hut where a cold beer, a hot meal and a warm bed are waiting.
After four days on, we'll be ready for a slow morning and a bit of a rest. We'll make sure to fuel up at the hut before walking the hour and a half back down to the lift, then returning to Chamonix. For those keen enough to get up early and get after it, you can always squeeze a route in before we go, but either way we'll aim to have you back in Cham by afternoon. Whatever you do, you'll have the evening to yourself to explore town, or to just rest and recharge.
This will be your last day to climb in paradise, so you'll have the day climb whatever you want. That can be anything from a day at the sport crag to a classic traverse on a knife-edged ridge. Depending on what's in condition, we should have options from snow to rock and anything in between. If you haven't gotten the idea yet, you'll just have to trust us on that whole Chamonix is a playground thing. Whether you decide to go big and crank hard or get something delicious at the bakery (or both) is up to you. Either way, we'll finish up with a farewell dinner party at a local favorite before we have to say goodbye.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and you’ll have to go home. A short journey from hotel to airport should have you on your way. Of course we recommend staying a few more days to climb or relax, but that one’s up to you.
If you’d like stay on to do some more climbing, just let us know and we’d be happy to book you in with one of our guides to continue your adventure. We’ll have barely scratched the surface of what the area has to offer, so if you’d like to join us for another day or skills, another peak ascent, or some sunny rock climbing in France or nearby Italy or Switzerland, we’ll be happy to tailor a few more days just for you. If you’d like us to suggest some itineraries, we’d be happy to help!
IFMGA Mountain Guide
A local through and through and our expert in all things Italian, Giulia was born in Venice and fell in love with the mountains sliding on snow in the Dolomites. She grew up as a ski racer, then switched to competing on the Freeride World tour, and is one of only a handful of women to complete the IFMGA certification
IFMGA Mountain Guide
A local through and through and our expert in all things Italian, Giulia was born in Venice and fell in love with the mountains sliding on snow in the Dolomites. She grew up as a ski racer, then switched to competing on the Freeride World tour, and is one of only a handful of women to complete the IFMGA certification in Italy. Giulia lives in Chamonix, France and works, skis and climbs full time. These days she even loves warm rock almost as much as cold snow, and can’t wait to bring her local knowledge to our programs in her old stomping ground.
IFMGA Aspirant Mountain Guide
Silvia was born in Padova, near Italy’s Dolomites, to a family in love with the mountains. She too fell in love early, and has spent most of her life pursuing her two passions: the mountains and travelling. Silvia lives and works these days in the heart of the Dolomites, and has chased her vertical dreams thro
IFMGA Aspirant Mountain Guide
Silvia was born in Padova, near Italy’s Dolomites, to a family in love with the mountains. She too fell in love early, and has spent most of her life pursuing her two passions: the mountains and travelling. Silvia lives and works these days in the heart of the Dolomites, and has chased her vertical dreams through the Dolomites and the Alps, and to Patagonia, Nepal, and in many other corners of the world that offer beautiful walls to climb. Passionate about climbing in all its forms, from the crag, to training, to big walls, Silvia does it all. She is one exam away from completing her certification, and we hope she’ll be joining us as a full IFMGA Mountain Guide this summer!
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
Originally from Seattle, Erin grew up skiing and climbing in the Cascades of Washington State and has since traveled and worked in mountain ranges around the world including Norway, Alaska, Himalaya, and the Alps. She has Erin has pioneered first ski descents across the globe, has been mountain guiding since 2010,
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
Originally from Seattle, Erin grew up skiing and climbing in the Cascades of Washington State and has since traveled and worked in mountain ranges around the world including Norway, Alaska, Himalaya, and the Alps. She has Erin has pioneered first ski descents across the globe, has been mountain guiding since 2010, and lives in La Grave, France. In addition to working year round in the mountains, she is also a freelance writer and has been published in outdoor magazines from Backcountry to Alpinist.
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
Now!Climbing’s founder and lead guide, Chris has climbed, skied and eaten his way across the globe. Winner of the “Gold Medal of Alpinism,” the Piolet d’Or for the first ascent of 7041m Link Sar in Pakistan, he’s as excited about his next cappuccino as he is about his next big climb. In addition to being an instr
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
Now!Climbing’s founder and lead guide, Chris has climbed, skied and eaten his way across the globe. Winner of the “Gold Medal of Alpinism,” the Piolet d’Or for the first ascent of 7041m Link Sar in Pakistan, he’s as excited about his next cappuccino as he is about his next big climb. In addition to being an instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), Chris has spent his summer seasons working, climbing, playing and eating in the Alps since 2014.
The majority of climbers come to our retreats alone - somewhere around 90%. If you are hesitating to join because you would be coming solo, please know that we expect a majority of our participants to be joining by themselves.
We generally have a wide range of ages at our retreats. The average tends to fall between the ages of 30 to 45. But we have had quite a few climbers in their 60's join as well. It really is up to the attitude and physical ability of the participant.
You do not need to be an experienced climber to attend but we recommend some climbing experience before signing up for a full week of climbing. We ask that everyone attending is able to top rope a 5.9 in a climbing gym without taking or falling. We are aware that climbing 5.9 in a climbing gym is much different than climbing a 5.9 outside, but having the ability to climb 5.9 in a climbing gym will set you up to have a great time in Chamonix. With multiple guides and options we can accommodate a wide range of abilities.
We have two types of payment plans available.
Payment Plan 1 (Two Payments): This plan requires a 50% deposit, of which 10% of the total cost of the trip is non-refundable. Apply the discount code "retreatdeposit" at checkout. Full payment will be required three months prior to the retreat start date.
Payment Plan 2 (Monthly Payments):
This option is only available if the retreat is 5 or more months away. This plan requires a 10% deposit, of which 10% of the total cost of the trip is non-refundable. Apply the discount code "paymentplan" at checkout to take advantage of this option. We will split the remaining payment into subsequent monthly payments. Full payment will be required two months prior to the retreat start date. We charge $50 to utilize this option as it requires much more work for our team to manage.
We have a very strict cancellation policy. Please review it before committing to this retreat. We HIGHLY recommend purchasing trip protection as we will not modify our cancellation policy under any circumstances.
Because alpine climbing can only safely be done in small groups, this trip will be much smaller than some of our others.. If the trip sells out, we will have 10 climbers and 5 guides.