In the area, most of the lakes are found above 7 600ft (2300 m). As a general rule, mountain lakes are still under snow and ice in June and July. They only start thawing from mid-July until mid-October.
Can I drink water from mountain creeks ?Water from the Mont-Blanc range is crystalline, which spares its creeks from contamination. However during your hike and before drinking water from creeks and streams, you should look around to check for pastoral and other signs of human activity, which may have an impact on the surrounding water sources.
Do I need booking to overnight in a hut ?
Booking huts is in most cases mandatory. In winter and outside hut catering periods (hut keepers provide food and lodging service from mid-June to mid/end September), CAF (French Alpine Club) huts provide access to a restricted section of the building, providing hikiers with a shelter and blankets. Private huts are ofter closed out of summer months. There is no hut accessible for shelter in the Aiguilles Rouges.
How are hiking times estimated ?
On most of the trails there are signs and markings that indicate direction and respectively hiking times. Hiking times are based on elevation gain, not distances. Basically, an hour hiking allows to gain 1 000ft (300m), cover a flat distance of 2.5miles (4 km) and descend 1 500ft (400/500m) on average. One must also take age, group size and fitness level into consideration in order to calculate hiking times.
Is hiking adapted to all children ages ?
Hiking is an activity adapted to children as long as adults can assess their physical capacity. Under 3 years old young children should be carried in a comfortable and well- adjusted children hiking backpack. Toddlers aged 2 and 3 are able to walk a short distance on an easy trail. Children aged 4 to 7 can achieve longer distances (hiking 2 to 3 hours with a 1 700ft (500/700m) elevation gain. In spite of this they are not able to evaluate their own needs (hunger/thirst) or fatigue. From 8 years old up, endurance increases clearly and hiking times can be extended. “Peformance” can vary from one child to another, according to morphology and training. In all cases, parents should take frequent drinking brakes and carry plenty of snacks. The Chamonix valley offers a large hiking choice for the entire family.
What are the rules I should follow when entering a mountain wildlife sanctuary ?
The following rules apply to human behavior in natural protected areas found in the Mont-Blanc area (Carlaveyron, Aiguilles Rouges, Passy, Vallon de Bérard) and in the French national park :
It is forbidden to pick flowers and/or collect fossils,
Dogs are not allowed, even on a leash,
It is forbidden to camp and to make a campfire (only bivouacs, overnight camping is allowed),
Waste and other garbage must be carried back down.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited for outdoor leisure activities. Only access to pasture, forest or refuge maintenance are allowed.
It is forbidden to flights below 1 000ft (300 meters of the ground is prohibited, even 1000 meters for Bérard valley.
What should I do in stormy weather ?
Ideally you should anticipate the storm by checking the weather forecast before setting off for the hike. Leaving early or finding shelter when the storm arrives is strongly recommended. We suggest you keep an eye on the threatening clouds during your hike, and do not hesitate to turn around. If you still find yourself exposed, stay calm, avoid running, stay away from metallic items or higher places, and avoid the shelter of isolated trees. If you are in a group, you should keep apart from one another, crouch low with your feet close together in order to minimize ground contact. Avoid exposed areas (ridges, crests, isolated trees) or leaning against rocks. Sitting on your backpack provides good isolation from the ground. Avoid using your phone.
Is it possible to use trails for snowshoeing in winter ?
In summer time the Chamonix valley is undoubtedly the ideal place to hike. In winter though, things are significantly different ! Above Chamonix, mountain sides slope down onto the valley in numerous narrow gullies and steep slopes. This specific geographic feature increases avalanche hazards, hence allowing snowshoeing in few carefully selected areas.
Are all lifts accessible to children ?
Cable cars are definitely not recommended for young children to use. A very fast ascent may cause damage to their eardrum. In addition the lift operating company (Compagnie du Mont Blanc) prohibits access to some of the lifts to children under 3 years old. The lift operator can provide further useful information with regards to this matter. Both Montenvers and Tramway du Mont Blanc (to Bellevueonly) cog trains are suitable for very young children (1 year- olds and up). However at higher elevation the Nid d’Aigle (2372 m) is not accessible to children under 2. In any case, we also recommend you seek medical advice from your doctor.
What time should I start a hike ?
Generally speaking, hiking is best done in the morning, during the coolest hours of the day. It is a great way to make the most of your hike, with plenty of time to enjoy breaks, to face and deal with eventual problems such as weather changes or lost items etc.
What is the difference between a refuge or hut and a “buvette” ?
“Buvettes”are refreshment bars offering meals and drinks only. They can also serve evening meals under reservation. Mountain huts provide the same service plus accommodation.
How can I contact mountain rescue if necessary ?
The emergency number to call is 112, which will transfer you to the competent rescue service. If there is no cell-phone network, we suggest you walk around until you find mobile coverage. Do not hesitate to dial 112 even if your telephone shows no signal.
Is there public transportation access to hiking trails ?
Tourism accommodation provide visitors with a “Guest Card” (“Carte d’hôte”) which gives free access to buses and trains running up and down the Chamonix valley. It is an ideal way to get to most hiking circuits.
Can I camp in the alpine ?
Setting up a camping site anywhere in the mountains is forbidden. However staying overnight under a tent is tolerated from sunset to sunrise. This is what we call a “bivouac”. Camp fires are forbidden.