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
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.
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:
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!
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
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!Lizzy
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.Lizzy