Chamonix Valley is a beautiful walking country with vast dark and light pine and spruce forests, gleaming glaciers and soaring rocky peaks. Discover the diverse natural beauty and wildlife scattered throughout the valley. Walks are well sign-posted and accessible either from the valley floor or by cable car (open usually from 15th June to mid September). If you are using lifts, it is very important, especially at the end of your journey, to check when the lift closes as you will face a long and potentially difficult walk back down to the valley floor if you miss the last one.
Gear and Clothing
For gear, lightweight boots, waterproofs and a mobile phone with the PGHM's number on it (+33 (0) 4 50 53 16 89) are essential. Don't forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip protection. From the months of June to August shorts may be sufficient. Always carry drinking water and make sure to check our website for the weather forecast before you set off. Beware of patches of old snow, especially early in the season, in some instances crampons and trekking poles will be useful; take local advice or check here for more information on the risk of trekking.
Old Snow on Hiking Trails - How to Navigate
Old snow on a hiking trail can be dangerous. When it covers a trail, it may be difficult to navigate the trail that is underneath the snow. Also, inadvertently walking off a trail covered by snow can have inherent dangers. The surface of the snow may be hard, but not always strong enough to support the trekker's weight. The underlying snow may be soft. Breaking through the hard top layer can be followed by an abrupt descent through the soft snow, either to the ground below or up to the knee or waist. It is not uncommon for one leg to penetrate, while the other remains on top of the hard snow.
Injuries sustained in incidents of this nature are not likely to cause a fracture, but soft tissue injuries to ligaments and tendons are common.
Where the top layer is hard, the snow may be very slippery and best navigated with crampons. Old avalanche debris frequently covers certain trails in the spring and early summer. The Barberine valley trail is particularly susceptible. Navigating avalanche debris is not easy. It is like walking over a dry river bed of large rocks and boulders but where the rocks have a slippery surface and are eroding very fast. It is very easy to trap an ankle or leg and to sustain a twist or a sprain.
If there is a pathway already crossing the avalanche debris, stick to it. If the avalanche debris is very fresh, turn back and evacuate the area as quickly as possible, as there may be more unstable snow above the trail.
Even trail walking can have it risks, particularly in early summer. Consider hiring a Mountain Leader if you are not familiar with the terrain.
Trekking Guides and Mountain Leaders
A trekking guide is the same as a mountain leader, the term Mountain Leader. The term Mountain Leader is used to differentiate from a High Mountain Guide that specialises in high mountain alpinism over glacial routes. When you hire a mountain leader, you not only get an extra degree of safety, you are also hiring a local expert who can take you on lesser known trails. Also, Mountain Leaders have extensive knowledge of flora, fauna, geology and morphology of the landscape.
All adverts listed on our site are for qualified Mountain Leaders. A certified trekking guide is a person that has been granted the authority by his or her government to lead walks in summer and winter on non-glaciated terrain.