Chamonix, France! Birthplace of western mountaineering, location of the inaugural Winter Olympics, and the basecamp for the 2017 Barry Blanchard Climbing Classics.
Join us for one or two weeks in Chamonix with Barry Blanchard, Yamnuska Associate Director, and legendary backcountry chef Theresa Calow at the Chalet Sauberands. Could it get any better?
In 2017 week one of the guided climbing option includes 6 days of guiding with the objective to climb Mt Blanc during the last 3 days. Week two will include 3 days of guided climbing on some of the classic routes in the Chamonix area.
All-inclusive packages for hikers or climbers.
“In all my years of travelling in the mountains, the Chamonix 2016 adventure led by Yamnuska guides Barry Blanchard and Andrew Wexler, and hosted at the chalet by Theresa Calow, is definitely at the top of my list! I was so well cared for in every way – the selection of alpine and rock routes tailored to my abilities, the comfort of returning each day to a well appointed chalet, and the outstanding, quality, healthy meals prepared by Theresa Calow. Best of all, there was a close and loving bond magically created in the group — quality people, boundless enthusiasm and enduring friendships — all against the stunning backdrop of the highest peaks in the Alps!” —Margaret IC.
“Barry’s been guiding me for over 20 years, and this was one of the best adventures – classic routes on snow and granite, a cozy chalet to call home for a week, and excellent meals. I was well looked after.” —John B.
Read about the 2015 trip to Chamonix in one of the guests trip report here.
Our Approach: Guiding and Instruction
We have set up the guide ratios to allow us to adjust to your climbing ability and personal objectives. You may prefer to just get out and climb or you may prefer a little more emphasis on instruction, either way our ‘small team’ approach will allow you to get the most out of your week (or two). Climbs will be chosen to give you the right amount of challenge and to showcase the climbing this area has to offer.
The trip objective is to provide the opportunity to climb challenging routes for all levels of ability.
Week 1 June 24-July 1:
Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe, and considered the birthplace of western mountaineering. First climbed in 1786, Mont Blanc and the alpine and rock climbing routes lining the Chamonix valley are considered “classics” in the Alps. Barry Blanchard and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures have designed an exclusive 7.5 day program culminating in an ascent of Mt. Blanc.
Day 1 June 24: We meet at the Chalet Sauberands in Chamonix at 4:00pm. After introductions we will discuss the weeks goals, objectives and itinerary. This will be followed by a delicious home cooked meal by Theresa Calow, that will set the scene for the coming days.
Day 2 -4 June 25 – 27: Acclimatization and review of mountaineering skills on various objectives such as Cosmiques Aretes, Lognan Glacier, Petite Aiguille Verte , traverse of the Helbronner glacier and other appropriate objectives based on ability level and weather conditions. Guide to climber ratio for this part of the week is 1:3 or 1:4.
Day 5 June 28: Travel to Les Houches, by bus or train and ride the Bellevue Telepherique to board the tramway Mont Blanc to the Nid D’Aigle (2370m). We follow a path on scree, for approximately 2.5 – 3 hours, to reach the Tete Rousse Hut (3187m) where we spend the night. Guide to climber ratio for Mont Blanc is 1:2.
Day 6 June 29: Breakfast and an alpine start for the Mont Blanc ascent, starting with moderate and steep scrambling up the Grand Couloir (approximately 600m) to the Gouter Hut (3817m) where we take a break. Then we travel on glaciated terrain along a beautiful ridgeline to the summit (4,808m) of Mont Blanc, aiming to arrive by early to mid morning. Once we’ve enjoyed the views from the highest point in Western Europe, we descend to the Gouter Hut for dinner and the night.
Day 7 June 30: Descend the trail to the Mont Blanc Tramway, retracing our route back to the Chateau Sauberands in Chamonix for a wrap-up dinner.
Day 8 July 1: Transition day if staying for Week 2 (Guided or Chalet/meal package) or departure day.
Preparation for Climbing Mont Blanc
Climbing Mont Blanc requires familiarity with rock, snow and ice skills, strength endurance, and strong cardiovascular conditioning. Having strong alpine skills and top physical conditioning are key to your success in the mountains. Summit day alone requires stamina necessary to gain over 1500m (5,000ft). Prioritize your training efforts (assuming that you are in good health and injury- free).
- Climbing conditioning – pack-loaded uphill hiking, walking, and stair climbing
- Strength training for the lower body and core
- Cardiovascular training, including both aerobic and anaerobic workouts without pack weight
- Flexibility training
Week 2 July 1-July 8:
Day 1 July 1: We meet at the Chalet Sauberands in Chamonix at 4:00pm. After introductions we will discuss the weeks goals, objectives and itinerary. This will be followed by a delicious home cooked meal by Theresa Calow, that will set the scene for the coming days.
Day 2-7: We start early most days, striving to get the first lifts up to the mountaineering objectives or rock routes. In the evenings, the guides will review anticipated objectives and rope teams for the following day, taking into consideration weather and route conditions. Some objectives will require an overnight hut stay.
Day 8 July 8: Departure day.
Examples of classic routes in the Mont Blanc Massif area include:
- L’Index (2595m): A classic rock peak in the Aiguilles Rouge, accessed from the Index/Brevent telepherique. The approach is non glacial and the climbing is relatively easy, accomplished in seven pitches and back to the chalet in time for appetizers and wine.
- Cosmiques Arete (3842m): A highly enjoyable route and an excellent introduction to alpine mixed climbing. This route is accessed from the Midi telepherique station, and follows a series of snowy gullies and ramps, interspersed by rocky sections, ending on the observation platform of the Aiguille de Midi station.
- Aiguille du Tour (3544m): A scenic peak at the Eastern end of the Mt. Blanc Massif. This peak is usually climbed from the Albert Premier Refuge or the Trient Refuge. A glacial approach is followed by a snow slope and a rocky scramble to the top. Although this route can be exceptionally busy in the summer months, there is considerably less traffic when we will be there in September.
- The Petite Aiguille Verte (3512m): North West Ridge. A lovely peak situated near the top station of the Grand Montets lift. The approach is across a short and straightforward glacier, but once across the bergschrund things get steeper. The route then winds its way up a snowy ridge, through rocks and icy sections to the summit.
In addition to mountaineering routes, there are hundreds of rock routes accessed via the valley train and extensive lift system.
Instructors & Group Size
Your guides are certified by the internationally recognized Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or the UIAGM.
Barry is an Associate Director of Yamnuska involved in promotion of modern alpinism and mentoring of junior guides. Canadian Mountain Guide and alpinist, Barry Blanchard, was born in Calgary, March 29, 1959. Twelve years later three boys navigated the Bow River through the western side of the city on a raft of nailed together railway ties, Barry was at the helm steering the adventure. He found mountain climbing in the books of his high school library, some of which are still in his possession. A six month trip to the French Alps in 1980 set the course of Barry’s life: to climb the steepest and most complicated faces of the world’s great glaciated peaks. Barry has enjoyed some success: the first ascent of The Andromeda Strain, 1983; the North Ridge of Rakaposhi, 1984; the first ascent of the apocalyptic North Pillar of North Twin; the West Ridge of Mt Everest, 1986; surviving the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat, 1988; a solo first ascent on the North Face of Kusum Kanguru, 1991; an attempt on K-2, 1993; first ascents in the St Elias mountains; M-16, a first ascent -in winter on the East Face of Howse Peak, 1999; the third ascent of the Infinite Spur on MT Foraker, 2000; the first ascent of Infinite Patience on the Emperor Face of Mt Robson, 2002. More importantly Barry has enjoyed all of his outings, even the ones not included in the narrow definition of “success”. Barry moved to the mountains in 1982 to pursue his Mountain Guiding career (he is an internationally certified -IFMGA- mountain guide) and has included making Hollywood features such as “K-2”, “Cliffhanger” and “The Vertical Limit” in his professional life. Barry recently completed his first novel ‘The Calling’ and became the winner of the 2015 Boardman Tasker Award for outstanding mountain literature.
There will be a maximum of 2 participants per guide. There will be a maximum of 10 guests, minimum 6.
We will meet the group at 4:00 PM on the first day at the Chalet Sauberands in Chamonix. Luggage may be dropped off at the chalet earlier so that you can enjoy visiting the town once you arrive.
Accommodations & Meals
Twin accommodation at the Chalet Sauberands and all meals with the exception of one dinner are inlcuded. Theresa Calow will be your chef and host at the Chalet Saubderands. The Chalet Sauberands is centrally located just a few minutes walk from Chamonix town centre. Chalet Les Sauberands is a classic Alpine chalet, with all the charm you expect from a traditional farmhouse. Renovated to a very high standard, keeping original features such as aged oak beams, while adding modern luxuries such as a jacuzzi and satellite TV. Sleeps 12 in 6 bedrooms | 5 bathrooms.
Please inform us upon booking if you have any dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free or any other requirement.
You will be responsible for your costs to arrive and depart from Chamonix. Closest airport is Geneva, Switzerland (GVA). Air Canada and major international airlines fly to Geneva. Approximate transfer time about an hour. Airport pickup and transfer directly to Chalet Sauberands can be arranged by contacting Tracy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: (Google Maps)
If you have any problems, please call a Mountain Lifestyle representative:
Rep A: +33 (0) 786 205 287
Rep B: +33 (0) 786 205 289
Rep C: +33 (0) 786 205 292
Chamonix with Barry Blanchard – Gear List and What Barry is Bringing
- Crampons, Barry is bringing Black Diamond Sabertooth Crampons
- Mountaineering ice axe, Barry is bringing Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe and Ice Hammer (the axe will sufice for all mountain travel in Cham, with the addition of the hammer steep ice like the Chere Couloir).
- Climbing harness, Barry is bringing a Black Diamond Aspect
- Climbing helmet, Barry is bringing a Black Diamond Vector
- Belay device, Barry is bringing a Edelrid Mega Jul
- Two locking carabiners, two normal carabiners
We recommend you bring:
- Mountaineering boots (must be crampon compatible), Barry is bringing La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX and La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX
- Daypack (25-30 litres), Barry is bringing a Black Diamond Speed 30L pack and a Black Diamond Speed 22L pack.
- Sleeping bag liner to use with blankets issued in the huts
- Water bottles to carry 2 litres
- Glacier glasses
- Googles for high alpine routes
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- Ear plugs
- Blister kit
- First aid items (Our guides carry a first aid kit, but you may bring your own Band-Aids and anti-inflammatory medication if desired.)
- Trekking pole (optional)
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require a 35% deposit on booking.
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident whilst there. Obtain extra coverage if necessary.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
Please ensure that you have appropriate travel and medical insurance.
June 24-July 1, 2017
July 1-8, 2017
Call Yamnuska at 1.866.678.4164 to Book
Self Guided Climbers and Hikers Package: $1175 CDN/week (7.5 day) – all-inclusive accommodation and meals includes twin accommodation at the Chalet Sauberands, all meals with the exception of one dinner, free public transit in Chamonix Valley and hiking maps.
Guided Mountaineering and Climbing Package Week 1 Mt Blanc: $4395 CDN/week (7.5 days) – Includes chalet accommodation, fully catered meals in the chalet, two nights in huts with breakfast and dinners, internationally certified Yamnuska Mountain Adventure guides.
Guided Mountaineering and Climbing Package Week 2: $3595 CDN/week (7.5 days) – includes twin accommodation and all meals with the exception of one dinner, minimum of 3 days professional guiding, free public transport in Chamonix Valley, hiking maps)
Self-Guided and Guided packages do not include: Airfare, land transfers from Geneva or Zurich airport; lift passes; alcohol and wine; personal climbing gear; expenses incurred in event of early departure (evacuation fees, transport, additional hotel nights, etc).
Trip cancellation and medical travel insurance is highly recommended.