A equally fine variation on the legendary Pas de Chevre. Serious skiing in a spectacular big mountain environment

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Exposure

Exposure

The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs, etc) but only the consequences of the skier falling.

Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.

Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.

Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Description

This is magnificent run, with incredible views of the Dru and the Nant Blanc Face of the Aiguille Verte, but is very condition dependent.

The key things to bear in mind are the aspect and the exit.

Firstly the aspect- it faces S and SW so will transform quickly in the sun.

The significance of this is that it can be very avalanche prone the first sunny day after fresh snow.

Also if it hasn't snowed for a while it will refreeze each night and you are well advised to time it well, allowing the slope to soften in the sun before you go down.

The exit is low and again sunny, from the lateral moraine down to the Mer de Glace.

This is down a rubbly moraine gulley that needs good snow cover.

Without it you find and completely unstable steep moraine slope with large boulders regularly bouncing down it.

Hence you need to know the state of the exit before you set off down- do not be encouraged by the many tracks on the top slope unless you are certain of the exit.

You are on a glacier so make sure you are equipped, prepared and have practised crevasse rescue, however unlikely you think falling in a crevasse is- it is possible! A minimum would be each person to have harness, axe, crampons, an ice screw, 3 prussiks, several screwgates, a pulley/DMM Revolver karabiner, a couple of slings and 2 30m ropes in the group.

A more modern simple solution substituting for many of the above might be 2 Petzl RAD systems in the group.

If you have any doubts about this ski with an IFMGA Mountain Guide.

From the foot of the iron ladders descending from the Grands Montets lift, cross under the barriers and descend easy glacial slopes, gently convexing down.

You bear slightly down and R to take you into a steeper bowl, usually crossing a windlip to enter it.

The main Pas de Chevre continues out R then back L.

Your line goes down here then back L to enter a completely separate bowl.

This will usually be the steepest part and once in the bowl it is safest to stick skiers' R.

Be sure you are entering the Pas de Chevre variant and not the Rectiligne- it will soon become obvious! After a narrowing it opens up to fantastic open slopes.

You can go straight down and R to rejoin the main Pas de Chevre tracks, or, more logically you cross to the L over a lateral moraine of the receded glacier above, to enter huge wide easy slopes that lead you down to the treeline.

It is important not to go too far straight down once in the trees.

Keep descending and traversing left until you can eventually get to a steepening where, in ideal conditions you can ski, but often a short rappel of 15-20m may be needed.

This is a very difficult point to locate the first time as the tracks go everywhere! Below here you arrive on a moraine shelf where you need to traverse several hundred metres L to arrive at the exit couloir, near a cliff which has an icefall on it early season.

There are a couple of possible couloirs, the bigger of which is further L and faces NW.

From the bottom of the couloir, often rocky, descend onto the Mer de Glace, cross it by a combination of skiing, side stepping and poling to get to the access lift to the Montenvers train, or early season continue down to, then walk up to, the buvette Mottets and the James Bond track down into town.

Grab a beer to celebrate one of true Chamonix classics.