Discover the thrills of rock-climbing in the Chamonix Valley

9 January, 2021 | Reccy Guide

The Chamonix Valley, surrounded by some of the most famous peaks in Europe and in the world, is well known for multi-day and highly technical climbing excursions. Long climbs might be a trademark of the region, but Chamonix and its surroundings also boast a multitude of smaller cliffs where you can practice your rock-climbing skills. Whether you are a beginner or an avid rock-climber, going rock-climbing in Chamonix is a great day trip and will take you high enough to admire some of the best scenery the region has to offer.

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Who is rock-climbing for?

Contrarily to alpine mountaineering, which requires a certain level of previous experience, rock climbing in the Chamonix Valley is suitable from all levels – starting at beginner. The region offers enough crags to suit all wannabe or experienced climbers, and makes for a fun adventure both solo or as a family/group. Children are welcome on routes suited to their skills, but there often is a minimum age set by tour operators so make sure to check with them beforehand.

Bouldering around ChamonixA day rock climbing in Chamonix valley

Rock-Climbing around Chamonix

Chamonix and its surroundings have for decades attracted climbers from all around the world, and not without reasons. Mountainous areas mean that sports climbing crags can be found in abundance, and many of them are renown for offering excellent conditions and remarkable challenge for all levels.

The Vallorcine crag

Recognized as one of the best granite crags in the area, the Vallorcine crag is a popular spot amongst local and foreign climbers alike. In addition to offering a variety of granite wall climbs between 4 and 6n of difficulty, the climbing area also offers an incredible setting settled in the Valley. Because it is so popular, coming down by rappel might be a difficult feat on most climbs so you will likely have to descend by taking the via ferrata. And be aware, Vallorcine means “valley of the bears”… no bears have been spotted but who knows who you might encounter in this wild and beautiful spot!

To reach the crag, you can easily drive or take a quick train from Chamonix to Vallorcine, then walk from the station to the start of the climb in around 15 minutes. 

Ascending a rockface Chamonix – Ascending a rock

Les Gaillands

Les Gaillands is known in the region for being one of the most family friendly crag. The climbing spot will be a blast for everyone, as it offers easy grade routes as well as challenges for the most experienced, up to grade 7b. In addition, the area is nested in a beautiful setting boasting lakes to stroll around and Mont Blanc backdrops. The Chamonix climbing school is also located there, making it the perfect spot to learn the basics of the sport before taking on more challenging cliffs.

The crag is very easily accessible from Chamonix and you can reach it by walking from the center, or by taking a bus or a train for a couple of stops.

The Barberine crag

A great spot to practice slab climbing, the Barberine crag offers routes between grade 4-6. It is also known for being an amazing bolted multi pitch climb.

Searching for a hold while climbingRock climbing in Chamonix – Searching for a hold

Barberine is located close to Vallorcine and right by the Swiss border. To reach, walk past Vallorcine village and follow the signs. If you are feeling like rewarding yourself with a delicious snack after your climb, cross the footbridge to Switzerland and treat yourself to some Swiss chocolate!

Le Brevent

Le Brevent offers a different experience, as you will have to ascend in the cable car and above 2000m to reach the foot of the cliff. The altitude translates to quieter crowds and unbelievable views over the valley below. It also means higher chances for snow to stick around even during summer months and makes for a great added challenge! The routes are varied but will be more suited to intermediate climbers and above.

To reach the crag, take the Brevent cable car from Chamonix’s center.

These are only a few of the most popular crags around Chamonix, but the region offers countless more. Gietroz is great for experienced climbers, with routes grades 6a – 8a. Le Courtenay, Servoz, La Joux and Le Labo are other areas worth exploring. Your tour operator will be able to advise you as to the best route to take depending on your previous experience.

Rock climbing in Chamonix is an amazing day activity for all levels, whether you want to learn the ropes of the sport or polish your skills for future climbing/mountaineering expeditions. So, if you haven’t already, put on your rock climbing shoes and start conquering Chamonix’s cliffs!

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