Aiguille du Tacul Northwest Shoulder

Aiguille du Midi

Chamonix

The classic steep ski line of the area, featuring beautifully open and exposed skiing. Whilst not in the realms of true extreme skiing, it is a very serious run for experienced ski mountaineers only.

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
2.8 km
Ascent
265 m
Descent
1.2 km
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
3.3 km
Gradient
46˚
VIEW ON MAP
Aiguille du Tacul Northwest Shoulder Map

Description

Starting from the Aiguille du Midi cable car, exit the lift station and walk down the arête. Ski down the Vallée Blanche, crossing over to the Italian side. Continue skiing down the skier's right side of the Géant Icefall until just above the Salle à Manger.

Transition here to skinning. Be aware of the La Noire serac now overhead, which is sometimes active and has been known on occasion to reach the Salle à Manger, so this is no place to stop for a picnic. Skin up the Périades Glacier towards the Col du Tacul until you reach the steeper slopes below the Col du Tacul.

From here, climb up a 200-meter, 45-degree couloir that is to looker's left side of the Aiguille du Tacul summit.

From the top of the approach couloir ski down an open 40-degree face. Be sure of the snow stability before dropping in since the skiing is above huge cliffs.

At the bottom of this first face, take the west-facing couloir to skier's left side. Ski down this, but exit right two-thirds of the way down before the couloir cliffs out.

Ski into another parallel west-facing couloir, again exiting right before it cliffs out. Ski down a third couloir, which steepens and narrows before a 10-25-meter cliff.

Locate an in-situ anchor in the rocks to the left and make one abseil onto the flat bench below. Ski down from here, trending rightwards and down one of the moraine couloirs. There is a final flat bench before a short but steep moraine wall above the Mer de Glace. In lean snow conditions, it is vital to locate the right exit on this final moraine.

The descent of the Aiguille du Tacul Northwest Shoulder involves tricky route finding and has been the scene of several rescues due to route finding errors.

Difficulty

Extreme

Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May

Features

  • Cliffs

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area