Adventure Vacation Guide 2012: Chamonix, France

There is a stark difference between “adventure destination” and “adventure capital” in that adventure capitals offer some sort of adrenaline rush 365 days a year. A prime example of this never-a-bad-time-to-be-here type of adventure capital poised to be hot in 2012 is the legendary town of Chamonix at the base of France’s Mt. Blanc.

Summer and fall seasons turn Chamonix into one of the world’s most renowned mountaineering and rock-climbing destinations, and the epic treks departing from the Chamonix valley include the eight-day Tour de Mt. Blanc and The Haute Route, which was recently listed as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 treks in the world.

Or, for the best view of anywhere in the valley, the skies of Chamonix are dotted with the colorful confetti of paragliders blissfully hucking themselves off of craggy alpine peaks.

In the winter and spring months, the valley offers some of the best skiing found anywhere in the Alps, with the 2100m (nearly 7,000 ft.) vertical run of Les Grand Montets and the off-piste Vallee Blanche serving as the pinnacles of winter adventure.

After a slow start to the winter season where the resorts were essentially devoid of snow (late-season mountain biking!), the Chamonix Valley was just graced with enough record-shattering snowfall to once again postpone the start of the season due to white-out conditions and avalanche danger.

Plus, with the Euro plummeting against the dollar amidst European debt fears, 2012 is shaping up to be an all-around good year for outdoor adventure in the French Alps.

[flickr image via rachel_thecat]