Valley cascade or ice fall climbing is always a fascinating and popular game in the winter months. If you are keen to try or develop you ice climbing then the alps is the place, with reliable conditions, easy approaches and plenty of routes.
There are quality ice climbing venues all over Europe, La Grave and Argentiere le Bésse in France, Cogne in Italy and Rjukan in Norway. Chamonix is also the place for high quality goulotte climbing in the winter and spring, making use of the excellent lift system to access gullies in the high mountains.
L'Argentière la Bessée - Brianconnais
The Ecrin and Queyras areas are home to some of the best accessible cascade ice fall climbing in France. I first visited this area back in 1999, climbing at Ceillac, Les Orres, Freissinières and Fournel, areas characterised by good quality ice often in larch woodland. Further to the north is the small village of La Grave and it's ice falls lying at the foot of La Meije. An ice climbing paradise...
One of the most frequented ice climbing areas in the Western Alps, Cogne, Valsavarenche, and Val di Rhêmes are popular for a good reason. The routes are varied in length and difficulty, combined with relatively easy access and reliable ice.
Rjukan is another reliable and very accessible ice climbing venue in Norway, an area always popular with British climbers and famous for 'Heavy Water'. With one of the longest ice climbing seasons from December to mid March Rjukan is an obvious choice for an ice climbing holiday. The routes are varied with entry level grades through to grade 7 pillars of steep ice. In recent years there has also been some development of bolted modern mixed routes.