The Chamonix Valley is very famous for its ice falls. In and around Chamonix you can find more than 200 routes for all levels and skills. The valley itself offers you more than 10 spots where you can use your crampons and ice axes. But the good thing is that in a distance of one or two hours driving you can find another two wonderful spots for vertical ice.
We're talking about the Swiss Valley of Trient or the Cogne Valley in Italy. Access is easy, with 10-60 mins walk from the road. Some of the ice falls are equipped with belays and most have abseil descents.
The icefalls at altitude normally start to form around December. The lower falls start forming from January onwards with the best ice fall climbing months being between January and February.
The most famous beginners place is La Cremerie, in Argentiere. Here you can find some nice and easy routes, some of them only 45º steep.
But there are plenty of other spots such as the right and left side of the Argentiere Glacier, the Col des Montets, Le Tour and many others.
Ice climbing equipment: boots, ice axes, crampons, screws, etc. can be purchased or hired in all the sports shops in the Chamonix Valley. See our list of mountain equipment shops. There are also an abundance of high Mountain Guides and guiding organisations that run ice climbing courses, for beginners and intermediates.
The weather, recent snowfall, temperature changes, ice quality and equipment condition are all factors the ice climber should consider. The level of difficulty or grade can also change depending on the ice thickness. Avalanches and falling ice may be a threat.
Care should always be taken on approaches. Wear an avalanche tranceivers if in any doubt. You can always hire the services of a Mountain Guides who will take you out ice climbing and ensure your safety.