Organisation for a possible trip to the Alps during the summer of 2015
The pub, 19/02/15
Duration - range from 1-3 weeks. Maximum durations in a single place: 1 week- Clementine; 2 week- Paul F., Phil; 3 week- Tom H., Becky
When? - all but Joe H. and Josh A. are free in mid-late July. Josh is free August onwards, as is Joe.
Where? - several considerations:
(1) Clementine is based in Morzine and would thus prefer somewhere western.
(2) Tom is based in the Ecrins and would therefore like to stick to the south or west.
(3) Becky would like to avoid Switzerland.
(4) Given the variation in peoples' expected stays, it would seem sensible to make it somewhere that isn't way over east.
(5) Phil, given the choice, would prefer not to be in Chamonix. However, he told me off when I relayed to somebody else that he was dead set against it...
This, it would seem, leaves the Ecrins, the Mont Blanc massif and the Vanoise. Discounting the latter on the basis that there probably isn't sufficient to entertain us in the way we want to be entertained, we are left with Cham and the Ecrins.
The Ecrins has two main valley bases which are a few hours drive away from each other. Whilst it wouldn't be inconceivable to split a trip between the two, it's not realistically going to happen! Ailefroide is the southern base and has better valley rock climbing, better facilities and more to do when the weather isn't so great. It happens to be the best campsite that I know. La Berarde, the northern base, is at the head of a long valley and feels more remote. It's got less by way of rock climbing, and less that is doable straight from the campsite. Also, food-wise it is much less convenient. I love both, but I'd say you'd be likely to get more out of Ailefroide with 2 weeks.
Pros - Wild and relatively unspoilt. No (possibly 1) lifts. Fewer tourists than other more popular areas. More to do in the event of inclement weather. Good valley rock climbing. Cheap.
Cons - Lack of mechanical assistance - walk-ins to huts generally order 3 hours, can be as long as 6. Rock quality is typically less good. Only 1 4000er (baggers beware...). Hard to get to without your own car (partially solved by counterintuitively flying to Marseille).
If not being too tight, then the best campsite is probably that in les Praz - Mer de Glace. Other cheaper bases can be found in the valley, but they are less nice! The Chamonix side is certainly the place to stay - Champex (swiss) and the valleys on the Italian side are all more expensive, less accessible and provide access to less. Moreover, they can be reached for a particular route if need be.
Pros - The Alps' best routes (many would say, particularly >PD+) on the Alps' best rock. Lifts. The easiest of all alpine bases to get to (?).
Cons - More expensive. More people.
What works then? It would seem to make sense for us to stick to the final two weeks of July for anything group-y. The 18th July is a Saturday; the 2nd August a Sunday. If people are constrained by weekends, that sort of duration in either Chamonix or the Ecrins would appear to make sense.
Notes: Lucie Studena: I don't know much yet about summer plans but if I happen to have time, I will join you. Would love to be informed about planning. (I am sorry that I wasn't able to come to the meeting.)