Photographer's Note

The Valle Blanche is one of the most famous off-piste ski runs in Europe and at 22km is also the longest. It starts at an altitude of 3880m and ends at about 1100m. The run basically covers the length of a glacier and meanders through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Europe.

It is not a difficult run to ski, but once down the ridge into the starting point, there is no turning back except by helicopter as the guide pointed out to us. However, it takes about 4 hours to complete with a 30 minute lunch break so you need to be reasonably fit.

Overall the skiing is not that demanding (if the weather is good) but the start is a hair-raising experience. It includes the whole group being roped together and clambering down a ridge which on one side is a vertical drop of about 2700m down into Chamonix or on the otherside an equally steep drop into some boulders and rock. To make matters worse you have to carry your skis with one arm, hold on to the guide rope with the other as you negotiate the 30 degree icy steps cut into the ridge.

This is a photo of one of the steeper sections of the ridge as I came up the Aiguille du Midi cable car. The misty soft effect was produce by my lense or plastic window fogging up?

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