Les Grands Montets Snowboarding
The 8th most popular snowboarding destination in France.
Friday 8 July 2016 06:13 GMT
Southeast of Geneva and north of Chamonix near Argentiere, the Domaine de Grand Montets ski area has 8 lifts serving 16 pistes accessing a maximum vertical drop of 2,025m. The legendary Les Grands Montets is spread across the three mountain sides of Lognan, Pendant and the Argentiere glacier. There are numerous off-piste freeriding opportunities and ungroomed pistes. It has amazing top to bottom runs along with magnificent powder bowls (Pas de Chevre & Le Lavancher) and awesome couloirs like Couloir des Drus. Les Grand Montets is considered the best snowboarding in the valley. For those looking to really go out of bounds, the Grand Montets tram summit is also the kicking off point for the Haute Route leading to Zermatt, Switzerland.
Once you are on the cable car heading up, freeriders and extreme snowboarders should consider paying up for the second stage of the cable car from the mid station up to the top of Les Grand Montets. From the summit station, it is a 1,300m vertical drop down ungroomed pistes and 2,025m overall down to the tram base. One option is the black route across the Argentiere glacier to Croix De Lognan. The other option is the steep route under the cable car, which is crevassed at the start but often holds some of the best snow on the mountain. Consider a guide if you want to explore any other routes down since they involve cliff drops and/or serious glacial crevases. One of these routes is off skiers-right on the Argentiere glacier. Another is the Pas de Chevre which drops 1,500m from the summit station under L Aiguille Dru to the Mer de Glace (after crossing a morraine gully).
Note: The lift lines at Grand Montet are known to be quite long at times. You can expect to wait at least a half hour at the base cable car station in Argentiere, and maybe the same at the mid-station heading up to Grand Montets.
If you do not feel like paying the extra to head up the second half of the cable car, there are plenty of other challenging options. Starting from the top of the Bochard lift, head to the left to La Combe de la Pendant into the sector known as Lavancher. Once in, on the right is Combe A Germaine (aka Le Triangle or Canadian Bowl). There are plenty of off-piste routes that you can run back down to the groomed pistes. Alternately, head up the Herse lift and try the Combe Des Amethystes (aka Italian Bowl). In this region, the Gasex chutes, which are known for avalanches, are very popular but treacherous.
After a hard morning of snowboarding, there are many good options for lunch at Grand Montets. Try checking out Plan Joran, Cremerie Du Glacier Restaurant off Pierre Arie, or Chalet-Refuge at Lognan.
For apres ski near Argentiere, try the Office Bar, the Savoy Bar or Rusticana (aka Rusty).
To reach the Chamonix valley from Geneva by car, head southeast on Route A40, and then southeast on Route N205 into Chamonix. The main cable car station for Grand Montets in Argentiere is about 10 minutes north of Chamonix.
The Grands Montets is part of the Mont Blanc lift pass system. The 15km Chamonix valley has seven separate ski areas with 47 lifts serving 145 runs totaling 182km of pistes. These separate ski areas are interconnected by bus service, which can be unreliable and very crowded at times, and by the regional Mont Blanc valley train service (hotels provide a Guest Card for free bus and train service).
If you are looking for a good lift pass deal, consider the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass for six days or more that provides access to all the Chamonix valley ski area lifts including Aiguille du Midi, all the Courmayeur lifts with a free shuttle bus from Chamonix, and Les 4 Vallees around Verbier, Switzerland. It also covers the upper half of the Grand Montets tram!
If you are looking for some apres ski action in Chamonix, try Chamouny, Brasserie de Rond Point, Irish Coffee, Chambre Neuf, Micro Brasserie Du Chamoni , No Escape, L Adventure or La Terrase. For some nightlife in Chamonix, definitely check out Bar de Moulins, Arbat, The Blue, Choucas Video Bar, Le Pete disco, Le Cantina Club, BPM Night Club, Bushwacker or Wild Wallabies Bar.
By the way, when you check in to your hotel in Chamonix, make sure to ask for the free guest card called Carte D Hote that provides free access to the ski buses and train in the valley. During hours of lift operation, there are regular buses between the ski areas at least every half hour, while the train tends to run once an hour.
Overall, Les Grands Montets is the 8th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 47 snowboarding resorts in France. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Les Grands Montets including Vallee Blanche, Domaine Brevent Flegere, Domaine De Balme and Domaine Des Houches.