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Austrian Route, Les Courtes

Arve Valley

A mythical line down the true north face of Les Courtes, it has still seen hardly more than a handful of descents.

Ski Touring Extreme

3.7 km
1.1 km
1.1 km
3-4 hrs
Low Point
2.7 km
High Point
3.8 km
Austrian Route, Les Courtes Map

First skied by Chauchefoin in 1977, it wasn't until 1995 that Tardivel, Ballot and Cottignies repeated the line. Roch Malnuit claimed the first and only snowboard descent in 2006. April 2016 brought about exceptional conditions in the Argentiere Basin and the line saw a series of descents in good style by 4-5 team including without an abseil by uber athlete Kilian Jornet. Tardivel asserts that the Austrian route is similar in difficulty to the Nant Blanc face and subsequent skiers have attested to the extremely steep nature of the line agreeing with it's 5.5 grade. With an average angle of 52 degrees for 800 meters, it is sustained and exposed without any letup. There is normally one mandatory abseil near the bottom. With the Grand Montets lift system now closing at the very start of May this line is becoming harder to repeat in the shrinking window for steep skiing before the lift closure. It takes a motivated team to walk up the 4 hours to the Argentiere Basin without having the luxury to scope conditions ahead of time.


From the top of the Grand Montets cable car, ski down the very start of the Point du Vue piste before quickly ducking the rope and heading skier's right. Take the high traverse across the Glacier des Rognons. You can either ski down to the Argentiere Glacier or continue the high traverse all the way across, through very crevassed glacier, to the foot of the N Face of les Droites, before skinning to the foot of the face. Climb the route and ski down the same way.



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

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.


4 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between May and June


  • Cliffs

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area