Chamonix Trail Map
The Mountain Terrain
Chamonix's ski area (150 kilometres of piste and 15,000 acres of off piste with skiing altitude of 1,035 to 3,842 metres) is spread across five mountains: Grands Montets, L'Aiguille du Midi, Le Brévent and La Flégère (lift linked) and Le Tour, so skiers must be prepared to travel if they want to ski multiple areas. The good news is that recent lift upgrades mean shorter queuing times.
Chamonix is one of the giants for freeriding. The Aiguille du Midi and Grands Montets cable cars offer access to the off-piste powder on the glaciers. Freeriders will encounter some mind-blowing scenery along the way - deep crevasses, ice falls, clifftops and caves.
From the Aiguille du Midi (3,812m) you can see the French, Swiss and Italian Alps (including Mont Blanc on a clear day). This is the view just before skiing down the 20-kilometre Vallee Blanche - a totally unmarked and unmaintained off-piste run.
Freestylers describe Chamonix as one big playground with an abundance of natural freestyle terrain. There are also two snowparks and a half-pipe. Beginners and intermediates aren't left out in the cold; there are plenty of long green, blue, and red runs with reliable snowcover on which to practise turns.
Chamonix makes up part of the Mont Blanc ski area. There are two ski passes to choose from: Chamonix Le Pass or the Mont Blanc Pass Unlimited.
Chamonix's popularity means its runs tend to get tracked out by lunchtime, so advanced skiers should head to the high off-piste terrain to avoid the crowds (take the Aiguille du Midi or Grands Montets cable cars). There are many dangers not least from crevasses, seracs, cliffs and avalanches so it's worth getting a handful of friends together and hiring a guide for the day; a guide will not only ensure safety but will show you some of the mountain's hidden gems.
The one thing all powder enthusiasts seek is the run that keeps going for miles, and Chamonix has plenty of those. The 20-kilometre (12-mile) Vallee Blanche is the obvious place. Accessed by the Aiguille du Midi cable car (3812m), The VB has a 2800-metre vertical and some very real dangers; only skiers able to parallel turn on a red run should attempt it (a guide is strongly recommended). There are several variants of the run: the Petit Envers du Plan and the Grand Envers du Plan. These are visually interesting, but are more heavily crevassed and hold a higher risk of avalanches. The VB is best skiied in Feburary/March time (don't leave it too late in the day for safety reasons).
Heli-skiing is another option; many companies offer heli-drops on the Mont-Blanc massif just over the border in Switzerland or Italy (heli-drops are illegal on French National parkland).
The base elvation is 1,035 metres, and the top elevation is 3,842 metres. Vertical drop is 2,807 metres. There are a 170 kilometres of runs, and the break out is 23% beginner, 31% intermediate, 33% advanced and 13% expert. There are 42 kilometres of cross-country runs. Total lifts are 49 with an uplift capacity of 52,660 per hour.