Chamonix Envers with Osprey Athlete Joe Stock

Chamonix is the world center for climbing. The Envers Refuge is where climbers and guides go on vacation. It’s a mellow scene, but the rock routes are huge. This year Cathy and I came to Chamonix prepared for the Envers with a double rack, twin ropes and our Osprey Mutant packs. Between weather and work, we squeezed in a day and a half of climbing at the Envers. Lucky us!

The Refuge de l’Envers is perched above the Mer de Glace Glacier, on a buttress of rock that splits seas of granite.

It’s a three-hour approach to the Envers after taking the Montenvers Railway from Chamonix. From the Montenvers we dropped down ladders, cables and moraine to the withering Mer de Glace Glacier. Each year the glacier drops, exposing more teetering moraine. We hiked a mile up the Mer de Glace, then climbed ladders to the Envers Refuge. Typical of the Alps, route finding was a no-brainer.

After the approach, Cathy and I dropped our packs and climbed La Piege. Two hundred meters of 6a+ granite crack climbing just five minutes from the refuge.

The next day we climbed Amazonia, a 370-meter 6a+ on the First Point of the Nantillions. Here’s Cathy leading a polished slab on the second pitch. For us the route was 13 pitches of clean granite climbing. It’s not the orange granite like above the Vallee Blanche on the Midi or Capucin, but it’s still really good.

Cathy near the summit of Amazonia. It took eight quick rappels to get down. We’ll be back for more!

Osprey Packs Athlete Joe Stock is an internationally certified IFMGA mountain guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. He has been climbing and skiing around the world for 25 years with extensive time in the mountains of Alaska, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the North Cascades of Washington and Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Since 1995, Joe has been freelance writing for magazines starting with a feature article in Rock & Ice on climbing the Balfour Face on Mount Tasman in New Zealand. Since then, he’s published numerous articles on adventures and mountain technique in rags such as Climbing, Backcountry, Alaska, Climbing, Trail Runner, Men’s Health and Off Piste.