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
Don’t ski, don’t ever want to ski?
Don’t let that stop you enjoying a Chamonix winter holiday.
It’s the perennial dilemma for families split by a love it or loath divide when it comes skiing or snowboarding. Fret not however, we’ve created a list of some of the amazing ways you can create a Chamonix winter experience for everyone.
Here are our top tips of amazing activities non-skiers should put on their holiday hit list to keep them entertained whilst the ski-lovers hit the slopes doing their own Chamonix winter exploring.
Ticket to ride to the top of Europe
Take a trip up the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi to see Mont Blanc up close and personal and view the entire of the snow-covered massif from atop the needle at 3,842 metres.
The worlds high vertical ascent cable car, it whisks visitors in two stages from the valley floor at 1,035m to the l’Aiguille du Midi at 3,842m. The second stage, which covers 2.5 kilometres of height gain is in a single span, so potentially not for the feint-hearted.
For those less happy with heights, then the Plan de l’Aiguille at 2,317m still gives an amazing close up of the glacier, views down into the valley and the chance to look up in wonder at this man-made access to the top of Europe.
At the summit you’ll find all the things you might expect from a destination such as this – and a few that you might not.
There are panoramic viewing platforms with breath-taking views, a café, a restaurant and informative installations showing how the lift station was built and showcasing all the high adrenelin mountain sports the valley has to offer.
You can also 'Step into the Void' whilst you are there. Take the elevator to cover the final 100m of ascent and you can walk into a glass box with a view 1035 metres directly beneath your feet!
You can also walk to the end of the ice cave to take a look at the l’Aiguille’s famous arete – a knife edge descent taken by skiers, snowboarders and climbers who are accessing the iconic Vallee Blanche or making their way to access classic climbing routes such as Mont Blanc itself.
Let the train take the strain and head for Montenvers
This is never going to be the fastest train trip you have ever experienced, but the fact that this rack and adhesion rail line transports you from the valley floor to the bottom of the Mer du Glace, the sea of ice, climbing nearly 900m in the process, more than makes up for it!
Originally drawn by steam engines, today the line is operated by a mix of electric railcars and diesel locomotives. All the more impressive, is the fact that this line has been in operation for 110 years.
At the end of your 20-minute journey you’ll find a hotel, viewing platforms, café and gift shop overlooking the confluence of the glaciers that flow down the Vallee Blanche from Mont Blanc. It quite simply transports you high into the mountains and is the kind of journey you should add to your bucket-list.
Scarily you’ll also be able to see the extent to which the glacier has receded. For those who don’t mind a walk, then you can take the bubble lift and more than 400 steps below that to reach the glacier (but don’t be tempted to go for a walk!)
Spa Day in Italy
Given Chamonix’s proximity to Italy, via the engineering wonder of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, it is always worth spending at least a day discovering Courmayeur – the sunny side as the Italians would say.
Just a short drive from the town, you’ll find the village of Pre Saint Didier and it’s ancient and acclaimed natural thermal baths.
A unique experience, the original thermal baths remain and have been extended with a host of ways to warm and relax your body in the restorative waters. What’s more, its external hot pools, which are surrounded by snow in the winter, give beautiful views of a very contrasting Mont Blanc. Whilst snow covered and benign looking from the Chamonix valley, Monte Bianco is an imposing mountain mixed with glaciers and granite spurs and outcrops from the Italian side.
Whether you want to be super healthy or indulge in a visit to the Spa’s hotel for a glass of champagne to finish your days – this is a treat not to be missed.
Hitch yourself behind some Huskies
There is an enduring appeal about being at one with nature whilst being pulled in a sled by some exuberant Huskies. Imagine, being nestled into a fur covered seat and travelling across the snow.
The raison d’etre for these dogs is to pick up the traces and pull a sledge. For anyone who loves animals, then this is an adventure not to be missed. There is huge pleasure simply from being out with the dogs.
For the more adventurous then there’s the chance not only to travel under Huskie power, but also to learn to mush a team of dogs for yourself.
Try Snow Shoeing or Cross-Country Skiing
Not all chamonix snow sports demand that you race down hill on one or more wooden planks! There are other ways to travel in the snow and the further you are able to distance yourself from the hustle and bustle of resort, the more magical the experience becomes.
Snow Shoes were designed hundreds of years ago to help people move through snow effectively. Suitable for adults and children alike, no previous experience is necessary, and you can head out to explore gentle slopes, alpine meadows and snow-covered cols with an International Mountain Leader as your guide. Walking between snow covered trees catching glimpses of the mountain range as you go, is an experience everyone should try at least once.
What’s more, on a pristine powder field there’s nothing more fun than unleashing your inner child and running down the hill at full tilt with the snow crunching beneath your shoes!
For those who’ve always liked the idea of putting on skis, but not heading down big mountains at the same time, then cross-country skiing – either classic or skate – is an amazing way to take to the snow. All the kit is easily hired and there are dedicated tracks in Les Houches, Chamonix and Argentiere. Combine a half day kit hire with a lesson, and you’ll be up and away in no time at all.
Spend the day adventuring on the Mont Blanc Tramway
The highest tramway in France, it offers a wonderfully relaxed way to take in the breath-taking views of Mon Blanc massif. Accessed via the Bellevue lift in Les Houches, you can put yourself in the footsteps of generations of mountaineers who’ve ridden the tram to its highest stop – the Nid d’Aigile whilst on their way to climb Mont Blanc via an overnight stop at either the Tête Rousse Hut or the Goûter Hut.
Stay on the tram for its return journey and you’ll travel down the mountain from Les Houches to St Gervais where you can hop off to explore this pretty, architecturally rich French town. Why not take your pick from among its lovely brasseries and restaurants and treat yourself ot a leisurely lunch too.
We’re always delighted to help our guests make the most of their stay and as part of our inclusive concierge service we’ll create the perfect itinerary for everyone – skiers and non-skiers alike!
Whether you are a huge snow sports fan, or just love the idea of hiding away in the hills for the festive season, there is something truly magical about a Christmas skiing or snowboarding holiday in Chamonix.This year our guests were treated to the most incredible white Christmas which meant that they could ski to the door – something that normally doesn’t become possible until later in the season.It also meant that they got to enjoy BlackRock Ski Lodge at it’s snowed-in best, offering a wonderful peaceful haven from the bustle of the rest of the valley, nestled on the mountain surrounded by snow with sunshine glistening off it during the day and pea lights illuminating it by night.We are huge fans of Christmas and we believe it shows in the attention to detail we give to making sure that the chalet is stylishly dressed for the festivities. That includes an over-sized Christmas tree in the dining room around which there’s no shortage of space to arrange the parcels that Santa delivers on Xmas Eve!Our guests tell us that the fact that they can tap into our complementary concierge service to help them make all the arrangements they need to create the perfect Chamonix Christmas holiday for their friends and family, is just one of the reasons they chose to book BlackRock.The fact that you can seat 14 with comfort around the dining table – even 18 at a squeeze – also contributes to creating time in which to just relax and enjoy the company of those you love.For skiing and snowboarding fans then the fact that we are ski-in, walk out (we’re only 100m from the pistes of Les Houches) definitely also adds to the chalet’s appeal! So too does our VIP driver service which is included with every exclusive fully-catered winter booking – our driver will take you to whichever Chamonix valley ski area you’d like and pick you up again as and when you like.Whilst, for many, the focus of their Christmas holiday may well be skiing or snowboarding everyday, the Chamonix valley is also a winter wonderland for those who don’t want to wiz down the mountains on planks of wood.We can create a complete itinerary of activities for adults and children of every age and size. Choose from winter-focused fun like sledging with a team of huskies, exploring mountain paths and peaks on snow shoes, taking a lift to 3,810 metres to take a close-up look at Mont Blanc and the iconic Vallee Blanche, hiking to an igloo for a star gazing evening or heading for an ice driving circuit to test out your skills.There are no shortage of more gentile pursuits as well, from the vibrant Christmas market in the centre of Chamonix, to the chance to enjoy mountain views from the warmth of a natural thermal spa and from lazy lunches at Michelin starred restaurants to exploring the rich and varied history of the valley with visits to its many and varied museums and exhibitions.Naturally, food is a vital part of the Christmas holiday experience and our professional chefs take huge delight in delivering a festive feast for everyone to enjoy – whether you want a traditional turkey roast complete with all the trimmings or prefer to adopt the more local custom of a seafood focused dinner on Xmas eve.Whatever you choose, it will always be our pleasure to help create the kind of memories that last a lifetime, and which make Christmas truly magical.Lizzy and Paul
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.
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:
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
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?
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