I Got Chills: A First Timer's Guide to Ice Climbing in Chamonix
For an athletic adventure that will really get your adrenaline pumping, look no further than ice climbing.
Ice Ice, Not For Babies…
Ice is unlike any other climbing surface. During the day its consistency changes massively, from hard and flaky in the morning to the soft in the afternoon, so the sport gets easier as the sun warms the ice later in the day. Every time you climb, the route will be slightly different and your guide will need to alter the route and the position of the rope anchor.
It’s unpredictable and has an element of danger, but that’s part of the reason why the sport is so exhilarating!
Physical Fitness: Are You Up to the Challenge?
To properly enjoy this sport, you need to be fit and prepared for the challenges of ice climbing. You should be fit overall, so start adding some more cardio to your workout routine a few months before your climbing trip to improve your endurance.
On top of this, you should incorporate some moves such as dead hangs, weight sit-ups, pull ups and overhead weighted lunges into your fitness routine to start working on the muscles you´ll be using when climbing.
Ensure You’re Equipped
This is an equipment-intensive sport – you’re going to need a climbing harness and helmet, two ice axes, boot crampons and special winter boots. Most lesson providers will be able to rent you these essential items at a fair price for very good quality gear; it may be a good idea to make sure you like the sport before investing a lot of money in specialist equipment.
On top of the equipment, you’re going to need top-of-the-range winter clothing and water-resistant trousers, coat and gloves – and don´t forget good sunglasses and factor 50 sun cream and lip balm.
Climbing in Chamonix
Chamonix is famed for its ice falls, and in the resort and surrounding area you can find over 200 routes for all skill levels. The icefalls at altitude tend to begin forming in December, with the best time to climb being January and February.
Equipment can be bought or rented in all sports shops in Chamonix, and there is a wide variety of different professional guiding organisations who offer ice climbing courses for beginners and intermediates to the sport.
There are great routes for all skill levels in and around the resort, making it a brilliant place to start out and progress during your trip.
How to Get There
Hop on one of the many frequent flights offered by budget airlines offering the UK to Geneva route. You can be in Geneva in under 2 hours from several UK locations, and in just 90 minutes if you´re travelling from London. Getting to Chamonix from Geneva will be the least demanding part of your trip, as Shuttle Direct has years of experience in providing comfortable and convenient transfers to Chamonix. From Geneva, you can even bring you equipment for free as long as you choose that option at the time of booking.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for an affordable way to get to Chamonix from Geneva, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport swiftly and safely.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.