The BlackRock Blog

We thought you might like to find out a bit more about life at BlackRock Ski Lodge from the depths of winter to the height of summer, so here's our Blog. We hope you enjoy it. 

Lizzy and Paul Mercer

Tuesday 31 October, 2017
Reasons to love a Chamonix Unlimited Ski Pass

Make the most of your Chamonix Unlimited Ski Pass 

There are a number of Chamonix ski pass options for visitors to the valley. Much depends on whether you want to buy by the day or pick up a Chamonix lift pass that covers the whole of your stay.

For those who want to spend all their time close to the Lodge, then the Les Houches Pass might be the best choice and the Chamonix Le Pass gives access to much of the valley too. For those who really want to max out their ski exploration though, then the Chamonix Unlimited Pass is the way to go.

Here are just a few reasons why we love it!

Not only does it gives you access to hundreds of kilometres of pistes in three different countries it covers all of the lifts in the Chamonix valley. That means the top bin at Grands Montets is included which will give you access to some of the valley’s most legendary off-piste terrain. If you are old enough to remember Blizzard of AHHS, then this is where Chamonix’s reputation for extreme was born.

You can also use it on the Aiguille du Midi lift and take a ride all the way to 3,810 metres. Whether you plan to ski the Vallee Blanche or not, this is no ordinary lift and counts as an experience in and of itself. And, whilst you are on top of Europe looking at the might Mont Blanc, you can also enjoy stepping into The Void and experience having only a glass floor between you and a 1000 metre drop to the glacier below.

You can ski 10 different ski areas on one lift pass because it covers Les Houches, Brevent/Flegere, Grands Montets and Le Tour in the Chamonix valley. It also means you can ski in St Gervais, Les Contamines and Megeve as well as Verbier in Switzerland and Courmayeur in Italy. No two areas are the same and here’s what we like about each of them:

Les Houches – often seen as the less demanding option in Chamonix, is in fact an awesome place to ski. It definitely qualifies as the most family friendly of the ski areas but what many people don’t know is that on powder days it’s a hidden gem and we’re always happy to show our guests the secret stashes!

Brevent/Flegere – from the ‘top top’ Brevent delivers the Charles Bozon black piste which is one of our favourites because of the sublime views of Mont Blanc as you ski back to the mid-station at Plan Praz. And if you want some down time, then there’s a great vibe at mid-station with great music and deck chairs for catching the sun or just taking in the views.

From Plan Praz then there are lots of red and blue runs to explore and a delight ski across to the Flegere liason. Then, the world is your oyster. On powder morning’s you can do worse than get out early to get to the front face of Flegere for pillows of snow.

Grands Montets – a legendary ski area which is more about the off-piste than the piste. It’s lifts give access to this ski and snowboard paradise and to get the most from it we’d recommend you take a guide – not least because for the uninitiated there is glacial terrain on which it’s all too easy to wander.

La Balme - Le Tour/Vallorcine – offers a glorious mixture of blue, red and black runs as well as off-piste itineraries which are the haunt of expert skiers. With views of Mont Blanc in one direction and the imposing Emosson Dam in the other, there’s lots to love about this end of the valley.

If you decide to head further afield, then St Gervais, which links into the Megeve ski area, is vast. You’ll be hard pressed to ski it all and depending on the weather, might want to give it a couple of days to fully explore all that’s on offer. Now home to its very own Folie Douce, where you can eat lunch and then dance in your ski boots all afternoon, it’s become a popular spot with Après lovers of all ages.

Whenever we think of Les Contamines, we think of wide well-grouped slopes and sunshine. If that’s not tempting enough, heading off with a guide is a must for anyone who loves skiing off piste. It’s one of the region’s hidden gems – so please keep that to yourself!

One of the amazing things about Chamonix’s location is the weather patterns. The chances are, that if the weather’s not good here, then it will be the opposite in Verbier or Courmayeur which is where three countries covered by a single pass really comes into its own.

Verbier is a swish Swiss ski resort and often plays host to the rich and famous. Its ski terrain is huge – some 410 km – and there’s something for everyone from challenging black itinerary routes to long sweeping blue runs back to town and Après spots like the such Le Rouge and Pup Montfort.

Alternatively, a trip through the Mont Blanc tunnel – just flash your Chamonix Unlimited Lift Pass for a discounted return ticket – brings you to the beautiful Italian town of Courmayer. The ski area comes complete with some of the best mountain restaurants you’ll find anywhere. What’s not to love about earning your lunch when that comes in the form of fantastic pizza, pasta and delights like Tiramisu!

Whatever your wish list for your luxury ski chalet holiday in Les Houches, then we think you’ll find it with a Chamonix Unlimited Ski Pass.

Thursday 28 September, 2017
Holidays with a VIP Driver

If you’ve ever wondered why you should consider booking a luxury ski chalet for your next skiing trip to the Chamonix valley, here are the top reasons that spring to mind:

  • When you book an exclusive week’s winter holiday at BlackRock Ski Lodge – either self-catered or fully-catered - our concierge service is included in the price. That means we’ll work with you every step of the way from the moment you make your booking until you arrive to create the perfect holiday for you and your guests. 
  • There’ll be no need to spend hours queueing at the hire shop to get your boots and kit fitted either. We’ll provide our ski rental specialists with everyone’s details so that they can bring everything you need to the chalet and you can enjoy a glass of fizz whilst having your boots and skis fitted.
  • Our concierge service means that every member of your party is taken care of. We’ll organise it all - from the best mountain guides to take the adventurous amongst you into the back country terrain that makes Chamonix world-famous to organising spa trips for the non-skiers, and from making reservations at the perfect lunch stop to booking your baby-sitter so you can head to the best aprés parties in town.
  • If you book a fully-catered break at our luxury chalet les Houches, then you’ll have a VIP Driver at your disposal between 8am and 6pm every day and never more than an hour’s notice away. That way you can explore all that the Chamonix Unlimited ski pass has to offer from the family-friendly slopes of Les Houches to the off piste wonderland of Grands Montets or, if you want to venture further afield, then we’ll whisk you to the high spots of Verbier in Switzerland, the ‘sunny side’ of Mont Blanc in the gorgeous Italian resort of Courmayeur or the millionaire playground of Megeve. So, whether you want to ski, relax, shop or just go exploring, the world’s your oyster.
  • Another key ingredient of any great ski holiday is without doubt the food. Our experience professional chefs will make sure that everyone is catered for, from the fussiest of children to those with food allergies and intollerances, the menu will be tailored to meet your tastes! For those of you with children in the group, then high tea is always on offer if you’d rather make dinner a grown-up only affair.

Whatever your idea is of the perfect skiing holiday, then it will be our pleasure to create it for you. It’s all part of our five star service.

#luxury #chalet #leshouches #skiing #snowboarding #catered #concierge #VIP #driver

Wednesday 9 August, 2017
Summer family fun

Everyone thinks of Chamonix as a destination for winter ski holidays, but what lots of people don't realise is how fantastic it is in the summer too!

If you are looking for an adventure playground for an family activity holiday, then a luxury chalet in Chamonix should be at the top of your wish list. Whether you opt for self catered or fully catered (or somewhere in between) no two days will be the same.

You'll discover there's no shortage of things to do to keep children of all ages entertained and as part of our concierge service, we can help you create the perfect package of activities for all the family.

Chamonix is famous for rock climbing and mountaineering and children as young as five can embark on classes at Les Gaillands and learn how to climb. There are tree top adventures and zip wires to whiz down too at the Acro Park next to the climbing crag. 

White water rafting and hydro speeding are big favourites in the summer and when it's 30 degrees and you want to cool down, this is a brilliant option for all the family - grown-ups included!

No trip to Chamonix is complete without heading high into the mountains and with the Aiguille du Midi lift available to whisk you to 3,800 metres, there's no excuse not to go and take a close up look at Europe's mythical mountain, Mont Blanc.

With stunning views across France, Italy and Switzerland, this is an adventure which should be on everyone's bucket list. And if you aren't too phased by heights stepping into the void - a glass box at the summit of the Aiguille du Midi to gaze and the glacier 1000 metres below your feet shouldn't be missed either.

Chamonix isn't all about mountain sports either. For golf lovers then there's a beautiful course in Les Praz. There's also the Paradis de Praz, which is perfect for smaller children, with the river to splash in and pony rides and a play ground to be enjoyed. A great picnic spot nestled in the trees, its a great place to while away the time.

Mountain bikes also play a part in any Chamonix summer holiday. You don't need to bring them with you, there are hire options and no shortage of trails to explore once you are kitted out.

Road bikes also feature and with some of the best cols of Le Tour on our doorstep, you can always pit yourself against some local classics such as the col de Montets, the col de Forclaz and Emmoson Dam.

If you are a water baby, then why not swap the seaside for a mount lake with magnificent views. Passy, Annecy and Montruond are an adventure in themselves.

No summer trip to Chamonix would be complete without checking out the breathtaking views from on high whilst floating beneath a paraglider - the closest experience you'll ever have to flying like a bird.

Why not give us a call and let us help you plan your next summer holiday? 

Tuesday 27 June, 2017
Climb Mont Blanc

We’re excited to be hosting 360 Expeditions Climb Mont Blanc weeks again this summer. Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc has been the source of both awe and inspiration for generations of climbers since the 1800s.

Local IFMG Mountain Guide Stuart MacDonald will be guiding these weeks. We caught up with him to ask about what it takes to make the climb and the kind of preparation which will help you make it to the summit. 

“The key to a successful summit is your fitness level,” comments Stuart. “Guests for these trips don’t need to have any previous climbing or mountaineering skills, however they do need to be fit.

“We have a number of days to acclimatise and teach the technical skills demanded for the climb – use of crampons and ice axe, glacier travel and rope work. A week however isn’t long enough to make guests fit enough to complete the climb.

“I’m often asked the question, ‘how fit do I need to be?’. The answer can be quantified as, fit enough to jog a half marathon. If you’ve previously walked up Kilimanjaro or walked to Everest base camp, for example, then Mont Blanc would be within your capability.

“We tell anyone wanting to join these climbing weeks that it’s not about speed – you don’t need to able to sprint – you need stamina. It’s a long day so you need to have the stamina to walk the ascent and make the descent, which can take up to nine hours.

“It’s not too late to get fit for a summit attempt this summer. My advise is go to your local gym and ask for a fitness assessment. Also think about your overall health. If you’ve been carrying a few extra pounds, they could make the difference between success and failure on this adventure.

“Then, if you possibly can, head for the hills and start walking. Your goal is lots of low intensity/long duration hiking with as much up and down hill as possible. It’s all about training your body to deal with being on the move.

“One of the great things about the 360 Expeditions trips is that they are based at BlackRock Ski Lodge, which means that whilst you’ll be working hard in the mountains, you’ll be pampered when you get back to base. This luxury chalet has everything you might want at the end of a long day, from a Jacuzzi with glorious views to an honesty bar from which to grab a well deserved beer!”

Find out more about our Climb Mont Blanc weeks.

Sunday 18 June, 2017
Summer at BlackRock Ski Lodge

The sky is blue and the lifts have now all opened for the summer season and we can't wait. There's so much to do in the Chamonix valley both for adults and for children.

Use our luxury chalet in Les Houches as your base to discover all that's on offer in Chamonix. There are classic bucket list adventures like a trip to the top of the Aguille du Midi lift and the Montenvers Railway to the Mer du Glace and it's famous ice caves - they cut them new every year so that visitors can walk inside the glacier!

There's also a host of sporting and cultural events on the calendar including:

  • Marathon du Mont Blanc - a weekend of trail running at the end of June with places still available for the 10km race and the children's events.
  • Chamonix Yoga Festival - a gathering of yoga's best teachers and the opportunity to discover or expand your own practice in an international atmosphere.
  • World Cup Climbing - watch the world's best as they compete on the climbing wall in the centre of Chamonix.
  • Cosmo Jazz Festival - artists from around the globe will be playing open air concerts in breathtaking locations.
  • Fete des Guides - culminating in an amazing sound and light show on the climbing wall at Les Gaillands, this annual celebration of Chamonix's guiding community shouldn't be missed.
  • Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - a gather of amazing athletes from around the world who will pit themselves against the challenge of running around the mountain through France, Italy and Switzerland.

Whatever your goals for your holiday, from simply relaxing and enjoying the views to creating your own action-packed adventures, we're always on hand to help you make the most of your stay in the Chamonix valley.

There's biking, hiking, climbing, running, swimming and more. Here's Chloe, the youngest member of the BlackRock team, discovering the high wire tree adventure for the first time!

Monday 29 May, 2017
Counting down to summer

Inter-season in the Chamonix valley always brings extra-ordinary weather as this fantastic picture shows - winter to summer in a single day. It's also been a wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends and family here at the Lodge - which is open all-year round.
We had a wonderful time putting our triathlon knowledge to good use working as support crew for friends competing in the Rumilly triathlon, as well as heading to Italy for some wake boarding fun.

It's also been the perfect opportunity to focus on our training programme for this summer's Marathon du Mont Blanc at the end of June. A first for both me and Paul, the course profile is 42km (so a standard marathon distance), but run on high mountain trails and including 2,730 metres of climb and 2,043 metres of descent.

We're hoping the weather will be on our side, but valley weather patterns can be unpredictable, as friends found when they were running through torrential rain and freezing hail storms a few years ago.

Training is on track though and we have some big training sessions coming up over the next few weeks when we'll be able to see for ourselves whether the course is now snow free (another key consideration for a high route this early in the trail running season).

In the meantime, summer bookings are coming in and we're getting the chalet ready to welcome visitors from all over the world.

Lizzy and Paul

Wednesday 5 April, 2017
Marathon training gets underway

We've loved being able to ski tour out of the back garden all winter, but Spring's here and it's time to think about the Marathon du Mont Blanc. Although marathon distances aren't something new for us - they've generally been mostly flat at the end of a triathlon.

This one is a mountain trail marathon which includes some 2,700m of ascent and 1,700m descent alongside the 42km route. Having tackled the half marathon in 2014, I know it's no mean feat and demands to be taken seriously.

For me and Paul that means it's time to get the trail shoes out and get our running mojo back. It's been helped by the fact that snow has disappeared from the lower trails now, revealing some of our favourite rolling trail routes, and making some of the longer climbs easier.

It also has the added benefit of being another way to 'walk the dog'. I think Koda might love running as much as he does skiing - and here's a picture to prove it - although it's always best done in the cool of the morning or evening rather than in midday sun, even this early in the year.

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular marathon, here's a link to the race profile - it's making me nervous just looking at it. It's a beautiful course though which takes in most of the Chamonix valley. A rolling 17km route takes you out to Vallorcine via the petite balcon Nord, Argentiere and the Col du Mont. What follows is the climb to the Aiguilettes des Posettes at 2,201 metres before dropping back down to le Tour and then la Flegere and Plan Praz at le Brevent for the finish.

One of the biggest unknowns for this race will be the weather on the day. It takes place at the end of June but we know from supporting friends who've raced the course, that's no guarantee of good weather.

Whilst in 2014 I did the half marathon on a warm, dry sunny day, the marathon the following day started in frigid temperatures with wind, rain and storms on high - Paul delivering a flask of coffee and a dry T-shirt to our friend at the col du Possettes then waived her off into a hail storm!

What we do both know though, is that the key will be consistent training, so we'll be keeping you posted on how we get on over the next few weeks.

Right, where are my running shoes!


Friday 27 January, 2017
It's never too soon to learn to ski

One of the reasons we built BlackRock Ski Lodge was to fulfill a long held ambition to create for other people the kind of skiing holidays that we love - it was also so that we could indulge our love of the sport and be able to live in the beautiful Chamonix valley.

The fact that we've now been able to introduce Chloe our daughter to our love of snow sports has been one of the highlights of this winter. It's not been without its anxieties however - I'm sure we aren't the first and nor will be the last  parents to be crossing our fingers that she'd love it rather than hate it.

Luckily we have friends with children of a similar age so we were able to arrange a small group private lesson for them last weekend and we all did our best to keep our nerves from running away from us.

As you'll see from the pictures though, she loved it and we can now start to look forward to skiing en familie even if that's only on the nursery slopes. Definitely qualifies as happy days thoughs.


Thursday 26 January, 2017
Triathlon training starts here
Lots of you who are following BlackRock Ski Lodge on Facebook will have seen our lovely pictures of skiing with Koda our very own #PowderHound.

What many of you won't know is that our early morning and late afternoons 'walking' the dog up the hill on touring skis is actually the first phase of our training for a triathlon this summer.

One of our friends who's having a significant birthday in June decided that what she'd most love to do to celebrate was enter the Rumilly Triathlon near Annecy.

So effectively, she's kicking-off our sporting Team Take-over option having booked out the Lodge for a week and roping us all in to compete with her in a half Ironman.