Chamonix by Snowshoe
Winter Photography Trek
(4 days snowshoeing)
Chamonix by Snowshoe Winter Photography Trek
As the snow falls in winter and summer footpaths disappear, the mountains take on a new, peaceful and beautiful aspect. With the use of snowshoes, this short photography trip to Chamonix in the French Alps allows us to access some of the best winter viewpoints in the region providing a unique winter photography experience.
With a rich history of mountaineering and a backdrop of the highest mountains in the Alps, Chamonix is the perfect base for this exciting trip. We spend the week snowshoeing around different areas of the Valley in order to give us ever changing perspectives of the magnificent high mountain scenery.
From huge tumbling glaciers to snow and ice shrouded mountain peaks, Chamonix is a snowshoer’s and photographer’s delight. We include a night snowshoe walk providing us with an opportunity to capture some stunning sunset and night images.
This is a trip that every photographer should make at least once in their lifetime.
Day 1: Join in Chamonix, France
Our trip starts in Chamonix. We’ll meet at our hotel in the afternoon with a trip briefing and introductions. You will have the rest of the evening to explore the many shops, bars and restaurants at your leisure.
Day 2: La Flegere & Charousse
After breakfast we make a short journey to Les Praz de Chamonix, a small village nestled in the Valley, offering neck-craning and breathtaking views of Les Drus and the surrounding peaks. There is a great photographic opportunity of capturing a pretty little Church with a fantastic high mountain backdrop, made even more photogenic with a covering of fresh snow. We have the choice of a 2 hour walking ascent or a 5 minute Cable car ride up to the top of the hill at La Flegere and will go with the majority decision. Once at the top we follow a beautiful and peaceful snowshoe trail through Spruce. Pine and Larch forests, offering magnificent views through the trees across the Chamonix Valley to the Mer de Glace, Mont Blanc, Aiguille Verte, Aiguilles des Chamonix and beyond. In the afternoon we have the choice of descending to Chamonix on foot or taking the Cable car down. If time allows we have the option of heading down the valley to the village of Les Chavants where we can snowshoe a short distance to the beautiful old chalets at Charousse. This idyllic spot feels lost in time with twelve old stone and larchwood chalets nestled in a clearing in the forest. These authentic and rustic alpine huts are no longer inhabited but are fascinating to look around and photograph. The huts are surrounded by beech and pine trees and is especially beautiful with a covering of fresh snow. From Charousse we have views of the Mont Blanc Massif on one side and the towering limestone crags of the Fiz on the other. We have the option of staying here until sunset for beautiful evening photography and possible night photography.
Day 3: Le Buet & Berard Valley
After an early breakfast we transfer to the head of the Valley at the Col des Montets and descend to the tiny hamlet of Le Buet. From here we put on our snowshoes and follow the river along the pretty Berard Valley through beautiful forests. The Berard river may be frozen, but the boulders loaded high with snow and a backdrop of rocky summits, makes for some wonderful winter photography. We continue to the summer hamlet of Sur Le Rocher, a perfect picnic spot, where views of the Aiguille Verte can be glimpsed through the trees. We continue to the less frequented Tre les Eaux valley where we emerge from the trees at another hamlet of very old and traditional alpine chalets and huts. Today’s itinerary involves a relatively short distance but provides a wonderful opportunity to linger among the trees, at the river’s edge or on the sunny balcony of a traditional alpine chalet whilst taking in the delights of winter in the alps.
Day 4: Mont Truc
After breakfast we transfer out of Chamonix and into the Montjoie Valley near Saint Gervais Les Bains half an hour’s drive away. Our objective today is to ascend the easy summit of Mont Truc for unforgettable high mountain views. Sightings of Chamois and Ibex are common and we are treated to stunning views of impressive glaciers on the West face of the Domes de Miage and Aiguille de Bionnassay. Today’s journey is a snowshoe walk to savour, with excellent photographic highlights.
Day 5: Chalets Loriaz
After breakfast we head back up the valley to just beyond the hamlet of Le Buet. From here we slowly ascend through the forest towards the Chalets de Loriaz. On leaving the tree line the terrain opens up into the wide open Loriaz summer cattle grazing pastures. In winter these are transformed into rolling snowfields offering the most stunning views across the valley. We are treated to impressive views of the north faces of the Argentiere peaks and other mountains of the massif, especially the Aiguille Verte and Aiguille du Chardonet. The Chalets de Loriaz, a summer mountain refuge, are sometimes partially buried in snow in winter but make for an excellent picnic and photography stop before returning to the valley.
Day 6: Trip ends
Our trip ends today after breakfast. Depending on your travel arrangements and flight times there are several excellent photographic options available. A trip to the top of the Aiguille du Midi Cable car offers some of the best and most easily accessible and safe high mountain panoramas available. The Cable car takes you up to an altitude of over 3800m in around 20 minutes and the views from the various observation decks are stunning. This option is not included in this itinerary but your leader may accompany you depending on their travel arrangements.
This trip involves Adventure Travel in a mountainous region. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather, trail conditions and the health of participants can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Chamonix offers many options and variations to the snowshoe treks indicated above. In certain cases local weather, snow and avalanche conditions may also require us to revise our plans. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
What’s not included:
We use clean and comfortable 3 or 4 star hotels for this tour. Most (though not all) have Wi-Fi availability. Hotel accommodation is provided on a twin share, single-sex basis. If you book as a couple you will be sharing the same hotel room. If you book as an individual you will be paired with someone of the same gender. Single supplement accommodation is available if you would prefer to have your own room. There is an additional cost for this which will be confirmed on request.
This itinerary is based on a Bed and Breakfast basis. A continental breakfast is usually served at most hotels. Lunches are not provided but we usually have the option of stopping on route to buy a packed lunch or one may be available to purchase from the hotel. Due to the small nature of our groups we can usually make a bakery run in the morning to pick up filled rolls/snacks or pastries, depending on everyone’s preference. You are free to eat at one of the many Chamonix restaurants in the evening or at the hotel.
We try and cater for vegetarian diets where possible and can assist with medically recommended diets (allergies and intolerances). Please discuss your dietary requirements with us well in advance so we can determine whether we can cater to such requirements. Please note that meal options are likely to be limited in very remote locations or may be more unavailable. There may be times when those with very specific requirements may need to provide their own food. We are unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free trip so strongly encourage that travellers with life-threatening or severe allergies take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. Passengers must travel with all necessary medications for food allergies and be capable of self administering these medications.
No specific vaccinations are required for France. We advise that you consult your doctor or a Travel Medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are adequately vaccinated. Good websites to check are: fitfortravel.nhs.uk, travelhealthpro.org.uk and nomadtravel.co.uk
We advise taking some simple precautions in order to reduce the chances of becoming ill or picking up stomach upsets whilst on the trip. We encourage participants to keep their hands clean whilst on the trek with the use of hand sanitising gels. All hotels have Western style flushing toilets. We carry a comprehensive first aid kit on the trek.
We have graded our Chamonix by snowshoe Trek as easy to moderate. Although not at particularly high altitudes this trek does contain some more strenuous days than others especially towards the end of the trip. Trails are predominantly undulating with the possibility of ascending by Cable car on some of the itineraries. This trek is possible to achieve with a moderate level of fitness. Previous snowshoeing experience is not necessary and is easily learnt. We will teach you all of the techniques necessary to enjoy your journey on snowshoes. Participants should be comfortable with walking around 4 – 6 hours per day. In order to maximise your enjoyment and potential success on this trek you should be in sound physical condition. If in doubt of your ability we highly recommend checking with your doctor before undertaking this trek.
This is a ‘Land Only’ package meaning you are responsible for arranging your own international fights and your trip will begin at our accommodation in Chamonix. You will be responsible for arranging transport to and from our hotel but this can easily be arranged. The easiest way to get to Chamonix is to fly into Geneva then take an airport transfer straight into Chamonix. These cost approximately €30 – €35 each way and depart regularly. We can assist in arranging this.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not book your flights until the trip has been confirmed by Dreamtreks Photography.
Most nationalities, including UK citizens, don’t require a visa for entry into France. Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left on it from the date of entry. You should check the entry requirements with your nearest Embassy.
It is a condition of booking that you have adequate travel Insurance which covers rescue, repatriation and medical expenses. We advise that you take out adequate insurance as soon as your booking has been confirmed. We will require a copy of your insurance prior to departure.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must ensure your travel insurance covers you for snowshoeing up around 2500m (Some travel insurance policies may exclude this option). We also advise that you have adequate insurance cover for your camera equipment as most travel insurance policies impose single item limits. We can advise of a few suitable travel insurance policies to consider.
Winter is a great season for visiting the Alps. A covering of snow transforms the landscape offering some wonderful photographic opportunities. Temperatures in the Valley easily drop below 0 degrees with colder temperatures experienced the higher we go. During sunny days temperatures can increase significantly and it can be very pleasant in the sun. Winter storms and bad weather are possible at any time but settled clear and calm conditions can also remain for weeks at a time. All weather conditions offer many different photographic opportunities and we tailor the itinerary to suit the weather and snow conditions at the time. As we are travelling in a mountainous environment it is never possible to predict the weather conditions as they can change suddenly. You should be suitably prepared and equipped to deal with any weather conditions beyond those indicated above.
Snowshoing activities do come with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.
This trip involves Adventure Travel in mountainous regions. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather, snow, avalanche, trail conditions and the health of participants, alterations to flight schedules, infrastructure and operational factors can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
In order to ensure that you are fully prepared for your trip we suggest bringing the following essential items with you. Ideally your equipment and trekking clothing (especially walking boots) should be well worn in and familiar to you before you travel.
We will be staying in a hotel in the Chamonix Valley so you will be able to leave your belongings that you don’t need on the trail each day. You will need to carry your own day pack each day containing your camera equipment, extra layers, waterproofs and water.
International flight baggage weight allowances will vary depending on airline but we will need to be mindful of how much equipment and weight we can carry in our day packs each day. Any spare equipment, lenses, laptops etc. that we don’t need during the day can be left in our hotel room which we can access each evening on arrival at our hotel.
As photographers we appreciate that equipment weight limits are always a consideration both on flights and what we are physically able to carry. As it can sometimes be difficult to stick to these weight limits we do employ a few tricks of the trade. Wearing trekking boots and bulky down jackets on the flight saves space and weight as well as carrying your camera around your neck and perhaps sticking a lens or two into your jacket pockets.
With this type of expedition there is always a trade off in regards to what camera equipment to bring. The more equipment you bring then the heavier it is to carry and the harder and more tiring the snowshoe trekking becomes.
Camera: Cameras are very much a personal choice and is dependent on individual preference, budget, and experience. Regardless of what camera you bring it is important that you are familiar with its controls, layout and menu system. Although carrying a second camera body is usually too bulky and heavy we do suggest bringing a back up compact camera in case of equipment malfunction.
Lenses: As with cameras, these come down to personal choice and there is always a trade-off to be made. As we will be predominantly shooting landscape, travel and perhaps some portrait images many photographers choose one or two zoom lenses. Something around 24-70mm is ideal for an everyday walk around lens. A longer lens e.g. 70-200mm is also nice to have but does come with size and weight issues. Some people like to bring a macro lens for more detailed and close up work.
Backpack & camera bag: You will need to carry a backpack large enough to accommodate both your camera equipment and day to day snowshoeing gear. Your backpack should be comfortable allowing you to carry your equipment over snowy terrain. Backpacks with good, padded shoulder, waist and chest straps will help distribute the weight. Packs should also offer protection from wind, rain and snow. You will also need to consider what bag you’ll put your camera into whilst carrying it in your day pack. A close fitting camera bag is usually best but you may wish to experiment.
Tripod: Although not essential, bringing a tripod does open up the possibilities of night and long exposure photography. An ideal tripod needs to be light enough to carry comfortably but sufficiently robust to be used in windy and snowy conditions. In our opinion it is worth carrying the extra weight as the photographic opportunities are so good.
Filters: As with cameras and lenses, filters are a personal preference. A UV and polarising filter can be useful but bringing too many filters again comes with weight and size issues.
Accessories: Ensure that you have adequate memory cards. There are many photographic opportunities at every turn in the path. Due to the nature of this trek you may wish to bring: a supplementary hard drive and laptop in order to save and review your images each evening; a remote shutter release if you plan to bring a tripod; spare batteries and/or battery charger and cable; lens cloth and small micro fibre towel to clear snowflakes off of the lens; spare lens cap; camera manual.
It is never possible to bring equipment for every eventuality on these treks. It is important to remember that if you bring too much kit, the effort required to carry it can spoil your trekking experience and chances of completing the trek.
On booking you will receive a full kit list in your welcome pack. We are happy to advise and suggest appropriate kit. We will provide all of the necessary snowshoeing equipment you’ll need but you will need to bring the following essential items:
- Trekking day pack and kit bag
- Sturdy walking boots or snow boots
- Warm jacket
- Head Torch
- Trekking clothing
- Personal medication and first aid kit
The Booking Process:
Firstly contact us by email or phone to confirm that you wish to join us on your chosen trip. We will then forward a Booking Form and will require a 10% deposit to reserve your place. Once minimum numbers have been reached and the trip has been confirmed to run we will ask you for a further 40% to fully secure your place.
DO NOT BOOK ANY INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS, INSURANCE OR VISAS UNTIL WE HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THIS TRIP WILL RUN.
We will then forward you a Welcome Pack with a detailed itinerary, kit list and other important information. At this point you will be able to book your International flights, visa and travel insurance. The balance of payment will be required no later than 90 days prior to departure. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions of booking.