Climbing - Les Gaillands (Chamonix)

This is Chamonix’s most popular crag and climbing school. It is within walking distance of Chamonix centre, the setting is idyllic – a south facing crag with lots of sun and a view over the Mont Blanc, it is beside a lake and a forest with walking paths. It is an ideal place for picnics and chilling out with your family and friends. There is a BBQ area and a small buvette, and Le Vert restaurant, bar and hotel complex is just next-door. The price of such convenience and popularity is that it is often overcrowded, especially in July and August, and you may have to wait to get on a route. The popularity of this crag also means that some of the holds have become quite worn and that the rock in some places is quite crumbly. A helmet is strongly advised.

From Chamonix centre follow the signs to ‘Les Gaillands’ or ‘Les Bossons’. The crag is easily visible just next to the road, opposite the lake.

There are a number of different areas at les Gaillands. The main crag, which is immediately opposite the big lake, is comprised of 3 areas: Petit Gailland which is the furthest to the right as you face the crag; Echelle (ladder) which is the area in the middle; and Grand Gailland which is the left part of the main wall. The entire main crag is not very suitable for top-roping, and descent on foot (by the ladders) is recommended. Grand Gailland has some really nice intermediate level multi-pitch routes.

Our favourite beginners area at les Gaillands is the ‘Vipères’, which is to your left as you look at the main crag. You will see a very small lake, and it is just above that. The area is quite small, and offers 5 routes graded from 3b to 4b, with opportunities for multi-pitch routes once you are confident with your rope work. It is a great place to practice your technique and build confidence.

For intermediate climbers, we recommend the area ‘Forestiers’. From the direction of the main crag, you continue past Vipères, heading up to your right, and you will see some small paths heading through the trees to the area. There are a couple of bench seats under the trees facing the crag. This area has some really nice routes graded from 4c to 6a. Looking at the crag, there are a couple of pitches on the right hand side that are graded 4c. Watch out though – the second (top) pitch above the routes on the far right is a 6a, so you might want to just do the bottom pitch for starters! On the left side as you face the crag, where the ground slopes upwards, there are a couple of nice pitches graded 5b-5c with some little overhangs that are not too difficult, with some nice big holds – great for building your confidence!