By the standards of any other ski resort, the Chamonix community of UIAGM-qualified mountain guides is huge. You’ll need its expertise too, if you plan to ski many of the most famous descents.
For beginners? Are you sure?
Talk about dining on scraps. Most of the valley’s nursery slopes are scattered along the valley floor – assisted by snow cannons, but still vulnerable to the sun. They’re also separate from the main ski areas (except at Flegere), so you’ll spend all your time away from the more accomplished members of the party, wondering what they’re up to, and feeling like a second-class citizen.
In other words, don’t bother – unless someone else is paying, and you’ve been offered somewhere really gorgeous to stay, as part of the bargain. Intermediates will find it hard, too, but they can join one of the ski school classes with ESF Chamonix or ESF Argentiere, which are the traditional choices. Ski Sensations is the international ski school here, and Evolution 2 is popular. BASS Chamonix is a British ski school in the Chamonix Valley, Summits teaches skiing and parapet, and Kailish Adventure are the is for on- and off-piste skiing.
Taking children to the resort
This is not the place to come with babies, small children or even older children – unless they are proficient skiers or boarders. Two ski areas up the mountain, Les Planards and Le Savoy, are set aside for children, but even these are far from easy. Evolution 2 provides lessons for children from three years old in the area.
It’s vital to hire a mountain guide
Most people who come here choose to hire a mountain guide for at least a day, and these can be booked through Association Internationale des Guides du Mont-Blanc; Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix; or one of the other companies offering properly qualified guides. Roland Stieger (+33 450 55 84 77) is a charming guide who didn’t learn the sport himself until the age of 20, so understands what it is like not to be born on skis. Sebastien Montaz-Rosset/Chamonix Guiding, and Mountain Tracks are other respected guiding organisations.