Living, Working and playing in the Alps: Chamonix

Driving up the valley late last night; Bonneville, Cluses, Sallanches, Servos.... nearly there, driving on the now familiar wrong right side of the road past familiar roundabouts, trying to carry speed in my under-powered van up the raised duel-carriage way, it's pitch black but Glacier du Bossons is visible high-up on the right reflecting the moon light. Returning from a weeks climbing in Gorge du Tarn, looking forward to getting 'home' to Chamonix.

For the past month and a half Trystan and I have been living and working out of a chalet in Chamonix. Luckily given a good WiFi connection and coffee making facilities we can carry on with much of our work as usual.

Chalet in Les Bossons

It's been an enjoyable, and actually very productive time! Obviously we didn't just come to Chamonix to work, the usual mix of work and play has been in full force.

When we arrived on the 8th May we just about caught the last day of winter lifts squeezing in a days snowboarding on surprisingly good snow up on Les Grands Montets.

Grand Montets Snowboarding

Climbing wise I've been exploring the Vallee de L'Arve, this is the Limestone clad valley down the road from Chamonix. The climbing in this valley is generally overlooked, obviously it's not what many people would come to Chamonix for but after spending many a wet day visiting crags in the Chamonix valley I wish I knew about the many all weather steep Gneiss and Limestone crags just down the road. The guidebook is mammoth 1500 routes and 3000 pitches! There are many very big and awesome looking multipitch routes that I didn't get a change to explore.

The crags I did visit were Cascade de Doran, Malsaire and Bionnassay. They were all good, Malsaire is very good for routes in the 6's and low 7's, but being just below Cluses it's a bit far from Chamonix, we visited it after visiting a friend who gave us a tour of CERN near Geneve. Bionnassay was the most impressive crag and only a 30 min drive from Cham. The routes are very good, generally long 30m+ and grades start in the upper 6's with the best looks routes being in the high 7's/8's.. Lots to go at, and much of it says dry in the rain!

Beautiful Bionnassay
  On my visit I climbed Des Esperances 7a+ and Les Fastes de la Solitude 6c+ both over 40m long!

Cascade de Doran
I also did a bit of bouldering up at Col du Montets and in the forest above Les Bossons on the right bank of the glacier: The bouldering in Les Bossons is like a mini granite Fontainbleu! Complete with the problems marked with coloured arrows.

Les Bossons Bouldering
I also did a bit of mountain biking on Trystan's bike, here's an awesome little downhill trail we found down through the forest above the chalet in Les Bossons, notice all the fallen trees from the recent storm and when I nearly went over the handlebars!