The Chamonix Valley is a haven for mountain bikers. Like the skiing, its the huge variety that proves attractive. Link that with incredible views (which will leave you almost as breathless as the ascent you just made) and you start to get the picture.
The vast network of cross-country ski trails become ideal low level mountain biking trails in the summer. Most of the valley floor tracks continue on from one village to the next. It is even possible to ride a full circuit of the valley (16km), which makes for a good relaxing day out on the bikes.
Most of the ski lifts also take bikes during the summer, so for downhill bikers and those looking for high level trails the opportunities are endless. The 15-mile long valley has six separate lift systems and boasts a ride-able vertical range of over 2000 metres. Just don’t forget you helmet!
For trips and tours further afield, the valley and the surrounding areas are laced with great, well maintained tracks. There’s also the year round ‘bike friendly’ Mont-Blanc Express train, which snakes its way through valleys and mountain passes to link Les Houches and Chamonix with Martigny in Switzerland. So you can ride as far as you can and then take the train back.
Mountain biking is possible for all ages, sizes and abilities. Energy, enthusiasm and a mountain bike and perhaps a helmet is all that is needed. If you do not have a bike, rent one from Cyprien Sports in Les Houches where clients of Chalet in the Mountains can benefit from a discount.
Rock Climbing / Mountaineering
Chamonix has been famous for mountaineering and rock climbing for much longer than its been famous for skiing. It was probably the first ascent of Mont Blanc back in 1786 that put Chamonix firmly in the centre of the mountaineering map. The easy access to high, low, hard, easy climbs make Chamonix an ideal destination for any type of mountaineer of any level of skill.
Thanks to the lift system, much of the high mountain climbing can be enjoyed within a day excursion. The list of possible climbs in and around the valley is endless, certainly too many to mention here. Climbing on the Mt Blanc massif and the Chamonix Valley means high mountains, superb granite and miles of limestone cliffs. From muti-pitch traditional climbing on the granite spires to limestone sport climbing in the valley floor, its all here.
Guides are available for beginner courses or to guide you on the more difficult routes. Once you have decided to book a chalet with us, we also help you to pre-arrange any guiding services you may require . Mountain Spirit is a well established and reputable company of experienced guides and instructors, all of whom are local to the area. Mountain Spirit offers a high quality personalised service to Chalet in the Mountains clients.
Ascent of Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, was first climbed on the 8th of August 1786 by a local crystal hunter, Jacques Balmat and a local doctor, Michel Gabriel Paccard. More recent history shows that the record Mont Blanc ascent was set by Pierre-André Gobet who, in 1990, ran from the centre of Chamonix (1015m) to the summit (4808m) and back in 5hr 10min 14seconds!
But don’t let that piece of record breaking history lull you into a false sense of security. An ascent of the highest mountain in Western Europe is still an achievement to aspire to. Every year the Mont Blanc’s rounded summit becomes the ultimate objective for mountaineers from the world over, all striving to stand on top of the roof of Europe and look down on all of the major summits of the Alps. Although an ascent is not too technically demanding, the physical challenge and effects of altitude will present quite a test.
The best and safest way to make the ascent is to employ a mountain guide. Mountain Spirit is a well established and reputable company of experienced guides and they will design a route and programme to match your experience and ability levels. Typically this includes some preparation days, especially to allow time acclimatising to altitude, before the scent itself, which usually takes two further days.
Much of the water sports available in the area are of the white water type. Rafting is a must do, a natural “white knuckle ride”. Local rivers such the Arve (which runs through Chamonix) and the Giffre (at Samoens) are very popular with rafters. Also in the nearby region are the excellent Dranse (between Morzine and Lake Geneva) and the Dora Baltea (in Italy).
Hydrospeeding is an interesting variation on rafting. In basic most terms, its white water swimming! You don a thick, reinforced wetsuit, a helmet, a pair of fins and get into the rapids. No boat required!!
Canyoning is another popular water sport. This allows you to exploring the canyon floor in a most natural way including sliding down waterfalls, abseiling, jumping into pools and all with the common theme of getting wet! At Servoz (10 mins drive from the chalets) there is a superb canyon which is 3.5km long and includes some 36 waterfalls, 25 of which can be jumped!
There are sixty golf courses in the Rhône-Alpes (which is the department in which Chamonix Valley is located). That makes it the second most important golfing region in France. Chamonix itself has its own 18-hole golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr, so breathe in the fresh air while teeing off to the back drop of the glorious mountain surrounds. Or there is the famous Royal Evian Golf Club, situated on the south side of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). Evian is known all over the world thanks to its mineral water, and it also has an 18 hole course (72 par, 6006m long) which hosts the “Evian Golf Cup” and the worlds’ largest women’s open. In addition to Chamonix and Evian, other courses within easy reach of the chalets are:
Megeve: 18 hole course, par 72
Aix les Bains: 18 hole course, par 71
Les Gets: 18 hole course, par 70
Annecy: 18 hole course, par 72
Flaine-Les Carroz, 18 hole course, par 63
Avoriaz-Morzine, 9 holes, par 36
Fancy the freedom to fly!! A paraglider somewhat resembles a skydiving parachute, but is actually an inflatable wing that enables you to fly! Advances in materials mean that paragliders can keep you aloft for extended flights, soaring, climbing and sinking with the currents of the air … pretty much how an eagle does it. With the steep sides of the Chamonix Valley and the cool nights / hot days of the summer months, large temperature gradients are created that make for powerful thermals and strong valley winds. Result; the Chamonix valley is one of the best flying areas in the world. Start with a tandem flight with an instructor just to get a taste. If you want more, there are plenty of courses available so you can qualify for your pilots licence