Does the weather up high look iffy? Or are you just in the mood to climb in your shorts and hang out in between attempting the the classic lines abouve the valley? Well, that should be no problem.
In addition to sitting amongst some of the most dramatic climbing objectives in the Alps, the Chamonix Valley offers loads of cragging.
There are over 20 crags listed in the guidebooks and this page will highlight the most accessible and popular crags.
Its an easy train ride to Chamonix since there are direct trains from Paris, Geneva, and several major cities. There is a station in central Chamonix and everything is within easy walking distanced.
Your starting point for most climbs will be cable cars and/or the Montenvers mountain train. Public transportation is practical in the Chamonix Valley. If you have a car, it is quite difficult to park downtown due to tourists.
Camping Close to the train station:
Grass, no frills. Like a United Nations of climbers spot:
T: +33 (0)4 50 53 14 30
F: +33 (0)4 50 53 14 30
Hostel/Gite situation on west end of town (with built-in pub) :
(Mainly English speaking crowd) Run by Irishman from Wessex:
365, av Ravanel le Rouge
T: +33 (0)4 50 53 15 43
F: +33 (0)4 50 53 15 43
Hostel/Gite 500m east of Gare SNCF (Train station)
(Mainly continental european crowd):
Le Chamoniard Volant
45 route de la Frasse
T: +33 (0)4 50 53 14 09
F: +33 (0)4 50 53 23 25
When To Climb
Basically you can climb all areas from March-November and a few stay dry a bit longer.
No fees, no red tape. Just please do not leave tape, bags, and other trash laying around.
"Crag Climbs in Chamonix" (1994) by François Burnier and Dominique Potard, is the recommended book.
Check weather conditions at: http://www.chamonix.net/english/weather/forecast.htm
Or stop by the OHM (Office de Haute Montagne) by the church downtown, the report for the next day is normally posted by 5 PM.
NOTE: Be aware as pitches can be 30m (or even 35m). Use at least a 60m single rope (10.5 or 11mm) . A helmet is recommended given the crowds and debris kicked from the top of the crags.
Be Aware of Gear Thieves, especially at the Gaillands.
After climbing activities
Why not visit a few of the local Cham pubs to sip a cold pint, look for a partner, and wax poetic about your latest exploits?
A few favorites are:
The Pub - good late afternoon crowd, mainly English speakers.
Choucas - classic Cham pub frequented by French climbers plus a few Americans and Canadians.
Wild Wallabies - Aussie themed but always seems to be full of fun Scots and Kiwis. Take a dip in the pool out front in case you are camping nearby and don't have shower access. The place where people compare post- Mont Blanc boot blisters around the pool during July/August.
Dick's Tea Bar - Young and fun English crowd.
Queen Victoria - "The Vic" - a mainstay for English speakers passing through the area.
Plus a few other good ones (I'm not telling) you can find on your own.
There are a number of good guidebooks but unfortunately not all are not linkable or available from Amazon USA.
These are available from Cordee or at shops in Cham:
Les Aiguilles Rouges - Escalades au soleil
by Thomas Dulac, Godefroy Perroux
This is a superbly illustrated topo guide to more than 80 long routes in the Aiguilles Rouges. Its in French but the photos and topos are so good, you'll have no problem understanding it.
Mont Blanc Topo Guide Vol 1 (Rock)
by Michel Piola
The book everyone seems to be leafing through while lounging arouind the tents in the campground. This guide not only covers the Aiguilles Rouges, Brevent, and the Chamonix Aiguilles. Available in English from Cordee, Amazon.UK, and at shops in the area.