Plateau Haute Route day to day description, map and photos

Day 1 - The Vallée Blanche

We like to take the first day of any Haute Route trip to ski in the Chamonix Valley area. This serves as a shakedown day and an opportunity to get a bit acclimated to the altitude. Most typically we ski the Vallée Blanche or one of its variants.

On the map to the right you can find the téléphérique which leads form Chamonix to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi. We have many options. Occasionally, we ski over toward Italy, and if conditions are good down the Glacier du Toule to the mid-station of the Italian side lift. This is a sunny descent of over 4000. After riding the lift back up to Point Helbronner, we make the great descent past the Séracs du Géant to the lower glacier. We may make a stop at the Requin Hut for a snack or coffee before continuing our descent down the more gentle slopes of the Mer de Glace.

In mid-winter, one can often ski all the way into Chamonix. But by April often the snow has melted in the valley and we usually take the train back to town from Montenvers. Including the descent into Italy, and assuming we cannot ski all the way into Chamonix, this gives a total descent of about 11,500 feet!

We return to Chamonix in the late afternoon, with enough time to make final gear adjustments, and enjoy a fine meal.

Day 1 - Vallée Blanche
50 meters
164 feet
1866 meters
6120 feet
Kathy after a big dump of new snow in the Vallée Blanche.


The Mont Blanc Massif as seen from the Aiguilles Rouges to the north. Mont Blanc is at the far right. To its left are the Chamonix Aiguilles. On the left is the Aiguille Verte with the rock tower of Les Drus. Between the Verte and the Chamonix Aiguilles is the gap of the Mer de Glace.


The téléphérique to the top of the Aiguille du Midi, seen behind, some 5000 feet above.
Descending from the summit of the Aiguille du Midi. The first snowy arête is steep and memorable. The Grand Combin, Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn can all be seen here.


Looking down toward France and the Mer de Glace from Point Helbronner.
The east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul, as we make the short climb up toward Point Helbronner.


Looking down to the lower Mer de Glace. The Requin hut, an occasional lunch stop is on the rock outcrop 10 o'clock from the skiers.
Here we are looking back up at the other direction from the photo to the left. Just out of sight, on the rocks to the right would be the Requin hut. From here, we enjoy a long, gentle glide down the miles of the lower Mer de Glace.

Continue on to Day 2.....

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