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Geneva/Chamonix/Zermatt Questions

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Geneva/Chamonix/Zermatt Questions

Postby Seahorse » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:57 am

We are doing a trip in June to climb some mountains, this place has been very helpful for our questions. Here are some more.

Landing in Geneva, is there a train station right in the air port to hop onto and get started to Chamonix?

We are using a Eurorail pass. Where do we get off and connect to different trains to get to Chamonix? What will that cost be? What trains do we need to connect to going into Zermatt? Cost of this as well?

We want to camp as much as possible to keep the cost down. Is it feasible to walk to campgrounds from the center of town or do we need to take some kind of shuttle? If so what is the price?

We don't want to book hostels/campgrounds ahead of time because of possible shifts of schedule. Is it feasible to walk into town and find something easily? Hostels seem to be about 30 euro compared to camping being about 15 euro for 2, does this sound right.

Thanks for any help that comes our way.

SSeahorse
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Postby selinunte01 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:07 pm

For the swiss railway connections, look at this. Swiss railway tends to be expensive .....

At Genova airportyou have to use a shuttle service (Volabus) to get to the railway station.

Better check on the internet for train connections between Genova and Chamonix. This is the Italian railway.

The Mattertal (valley of Zermatt) offers a lot of accommodations of all kind. A cheap possibility to stay overnight is to look for a hostel with "Touristenlager", should cost about 40 Swiss Franken per night and person.

As to Chamonix I dont know that region well.

In general june is very early for Mont Blanc and Valais mountains. Without skies you will not reach the high mountains - still too much snow.
Have fun anyhow ...
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Postby nattfodd » Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:32 pm

In June you'll probably be able to find campground space when you show up, but hostels might already be fully booked, depending on how lucky you are. There are campgrounds within walking distance of the centre of Chamonix (I can recommend Ile des Barrats in the south), and you can also usually find public transport (bus/train) rather easily to other places in the valley.
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Postby barrys » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:20 pm

If you wanna stick to trains it is doable but a bit of hassle, a one way shuttle service from Geneve Cointrin to Chamonix would cost 80/100Chf approx pp. Otherwise, if you can get to Geneve Eaux-Vives train station (near the center of town) you can get to Saint Gervais and then on to Chamonix, takes about 2hours. You can get solely by train from Geneve to Chamonix but it's alot longer involving Geneva to Bellegarde (which is in the wrong direction), Bellegarde to Annemasse or Roche Sur Foron, then on to Saint Gervais and change for chamonix. Instead I'd recommend getting across Geneve to the Eaux Vives station. It's quicker.

Geneva is easy to get around, train from airport to cornarvin central station is 5mins, from there 15mins on tram to Eaux Vives station and from there you can find direct trains to Saint Gervais or if your timing is off a train to Annemasse (regular trains) to make a connection to Saint Gervais. I don't know what your rail passes are - there are full on eurorail passes that would include all your rail travel except maybe the train between Saint Gervais and chamonix and then between Chamonix and Martigny. For prices I'm not sure but you can check on http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/rhone_alpes/fr/ I think Saint Gervais to Chamonix is just under 10Euro. Martigny is about 20Euro from Chamonix. From Martigny the train on to Tasch and then Zermatt is no problem.

In Chamonix the camping Nattfodd has linked to is my recommendation too. Chamonix sud has everything on it's doorstep, public transport not necessary unless you want to go to Grands Montets or somewhere further down the valley. If you're dirtbaggin it then try to avoid staying in Geneva unless your flight gets in at an awkward time .....it's a nice place but it's bloody expensive for most things except public transport (and I know a few bars where you can get cheapish beers!).

Depending on the weather, obviously, Mont Blanc is very doable in June. I'll be having a look myself 'round that time. I know a guide who usually starts taking people up from the last week of May on the trois monts route. So the route should be clear and the Col Du Mont Maudit should be easier to get up and down early in the season. Of course that can all change in minutes but you can find good forecasts and descriptions of current conditions at the Maison de la Montagne in chamonix and of course by talking to people who've just come back.
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Postby wkriesel » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:59 pm

hi,
I visted Chamonix in late June last year. I chose to take a shuttle van (25e.) from Geneva because the train connections are more expensive and longer. I stayed at the Vagabond gite for 17 e./ night inc breakfast. Leave yourself several days for a geting a good weather window on a Mt Blanc summit. A thunder storm turned me back on my one and only day for a summit.
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Postby barrys » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:28 pm

25Euro is a bargain!! Can't believe it was that cheap, same as a train ticket and it takes half the time!! If your Eurorail passes are all inclusive and you're determined to keep costs down then fair enough but if you can get from GE to Chamonix for 25Euro in an hour then do it!! If you take the train and still have to pay for a ticket from Saint Gervais to Cham then that'll be nearly half the cost of the shuttle van in itself!
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Postby Seahorse » Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:55 pm

Wow thanks everybody. That shuttle idea sounds excellent.

If we do that then it probably wouldn't be worth it to buy a eurorail pass and just pay for each train on its own? That would leave getting from Cham to Zermatt, Zermatt to Grendenwald, and then Grendenwald back to Geneva.

For those that say June is too early, we can move the trip back to July if need be.
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Postby barrys » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:02 pm

One point to note as you are planning on stopping in Chamonix first - the weather is usually more stable in June. July sees higher temps but more storms and as much as 25% more precipitation around Chamonix. Of course no matter when you turn up the weather could work against you but statistically it's clearer in June, for my neck of the woods anyway.
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Postby glahhg » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:11 pm

Shuttle from Geneva to Chamonix is WAY better than the train.

go to chamexpress.com and book your shuttle trip. They'll pick you up and drop you off where you want.
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Postby bird » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:11 pm

How is the snowpack shaping up for this summer in Cham? Are they having a good snow year?
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Postby McCannster » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:53 pm

bird wrote:How is the snowpack shaping up for this summer in Cham? Are they having a good snow year?


+1.

I'm going for Dufourspitze and Mont Blanc in the first week of June. I'm wondering if this will be too early, but I guess it depends on how much snow they've been getting. My main concern is if the paths through the glaciers will already be established. If it does end up being too early, I'll be in CH until mid July, so I have time, though I'd like to get up as many peaks as I can before the crowds start arriving in late June/early July.
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Postby Tom Fralich » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:14 pm

June is definitely NOT too early for Chamonix, especially for snow/ice routes. IMO, with the changing state of the glaciers, June is the new July. I've done tons of classic routes in Chamonix in June...Rochefort, Dent du Geant, Midi-Plan, Tour Ronde N Face, Forbes, and many south and east facing rock routes.

Many of the big peaks around Zermatt may still be fairly snowy. In a typical year, the Matterhorn isn't climbed regularly until July. But routes on Monte Rosa, Dom, Castor, Pollux, etc should be fine

Don't get a Eurorail pass for the limited travel you'll be doing. Train from GVA to Chamonix takes 3-4 hours, involves many connections, and is very circuitous. Bus takes just a little over an hour, straight from airport to town center. You can buy individual train tickets from Chamonix to Zermatt and so on. And there's even a bus from Chamonix to Zermatt once a day if I remember right.
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Postby McCannster » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:33 pm

Cool! That's exactly what I wanted to hear. We won't be going for the Matterhorn until early July anyway, so I wasn't too worried about that...just Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa specifically.
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Postby klk » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:17 pm

2nd the recs to shuttle rather than train. And your plan to start in Cham is a good one. Bigger and a bit cheaper than Z or G, and lots of cheap entertainment options on days the weather sucks.

I was there a few years back in a terrible June and the high routes were all slush. Rained most days. But there are enough options-- good bouldering at Col des Montets and des Bossons, cragging near S. end of town-- that I still got in stacks of decent climbing in-between bailing off high routes.
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