This Summer the Colorado Mountain School decided to expand our climbing programs to the heart of the European Alps and offer alpine rock and mountaineering climbing trips based out of the birthplace of alpinism, Chamonix – France. This inaugural season saw us run a few weeks of privately guided alpine climbing objectives in the Chamonix Valley while also venturing forth for climbing programs in Zermatt, Switzerland and into the Aosta Valley and Piemonte Regions of Italy to the South as well.
Closer to home in Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park, we were excited to offer and run a NEW 4-day Matterhorn Prep Course for folks wanting to get trained and prepped for upcoming attempts on this iconic peak, while doing so amidst the easier and more affordable access allowed via CMS’s excellent guiding venues of Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons, and iconic alpine objectives in Rocky Mountain National Park. We immediately had success running our two inaugural courses this Summer here, and found the Colorado Front Range to have the perfect venues for technical skills preparation for climbers interested in the Matterhorn and other bigger technical Alps objectives.
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Across the pond in the Alps we had a fun season with a mix of both privately guided day-based ‘a la carte’ objectives, as well as multi-day inclusive alpine climbing and mountaineering packages, our first season of Alps climbing programs was a good success and starting point for more programming in the upcoming future. And while this season’s climbing conditions in the Alps were challenging in regards to the unusually dry glaciers and excessive heat, we were still able to utilize what climbing in the Alps is so unique and known for….endless amounts of options and areas, all within relatively access from Chamonix, France.
Climbing conditions on the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa Massif didn’t line up with our dates and groups at the time we were there, unfortunately, but we were still able to explore some world class alpine rock and ridge climbing around other regions of the Alps, while also making successful ascents of the famed Mont Viso in the Piemonte region of Italy to the south where weather is generally better, and the mountains are more quiet and pastoral, lacking the crowds and glaciers of the heart of the Alps climbing areas.
Our Mont Blanc climbs also unfortunately bared the same fate as our Matterhorn trips, with extremely poor weather during our scheduled climbs, as the Alps would receive significant snow and wind during the time we were scheduled to ascend. Alas, once again, we were able to keep folks happy and pull off successful climbs none-the-less, by utilizing the plethora of other climbing objectives littered around the Chamonix Valley, and all within less then a days drive away also.
When in doubt, we mostly found ourselves escaping to the drier rock confines of the Aosta Valley and Piemonte Mountains of Italy, as well as towards the far eastern zones of the Swiss Alps around the Andermatt Area for our alpine objectives, and lastly to the southern cliffs on the Mediterranean in the ‘Les Calanques’ of France for true rock climbing adventures. The bad weather and challenging conditions turned out of course to be a blessing in disguise, as this allowed us to explore other regions of the Alps that were lesser known to us, therefore expanding our programming opportunities and repertoire of trips and experience for the upcoming future !
Now that the Summer Climbing season in the Alps has come to a close, we are back in Colorado and enjoying the Fall Rockclimbing season in Boulder and Eldorado Canyon, as well as the start of the Desert Climbing season in Moab and beyond. Look for us to announce our NEW Winter Alps Ski Touring & Ski Mountaineering Programs soon !
Having spent the past 3 summers living and guiding full-time based out of Chamonix for the season, and on and off in summer and winter since 2008, I am quite excited to bring my knowledge and experience of the area to help develop these exciting new programs for the Colorado Mountain School. Please reach out to us directly for any information on upcoming Alps Climbing & Skiing Programs at: firstname.lastname@example.org